by Himanshu Joshi: Are you tired of facing the pressures of your day-to-day worklife?
Do you feel overburdened by the responsibilities and the daily stress of your hectic routine? Keeping in mind the stressful routine faced by you regularly, it becomes an essential factor to keep a check on the blood pressure and keep it under control as this may threaten a stroke or cardiac related issues. And besides medicines, natural therapies such as going for walks , and the practice of pranayama and yoga can help in keeping blood pressure under control.
Causes of high blood pressure
The exact reasons behind the cause of high blood pressure are yet not determined, however there are many common factors that may contribute to it such as :
- Smoking habits of individuals
- Lesser physical exercising/activity
- Increased intake of salt in one’s diet
- Excessive intake of alcohol (above one or two drinks per day)
- Old age
- Genetics that run within the family
- Kidney disease (chronic)
- Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid disorders
High blood pressure – What research states
High blood pressure has a tendency of running in the families with men being more prone to it as compared to women. The age and race too are contributory factors. It is more likely to prevail in blacks than whites in the US. After having crossed the age of 65, the highest tendency of high blood pressure is more prevalent among black women.
How Can Yoga Help in Reducing High Blood Pressure?
If you are wondering how practicing of yoga can help counteract high blood pressure, listed below are the ways through which yoga can help reduce high blood pressure. Read on to know more :
- A daily practice of yoga can help lower the body mass index by and large.
- The stress hormone-cortisol that causes high blood pressure can be reduced through regular yoga and pranayama practice.
- Muscle flexibility is enhanced as yoga practice stretches your body and thereby cuts down the arterial stiffness thereby helping to combat the threat of high blood pressure.
- Yoga has a calming effect on the nerves and helps in normalising abnormal heart rates.
- Problems of insomnia or sleeplessness can also lead to increased blood pressure. Yoga can help control this as well
- Obesity is another common concern that causes high blood pressure . The regular practice of yoga coupled with healthy diet can help control this.
Further listed below are 8 effective yoga poses to reduce blood pressure:
Balasana or the ‘child’s resting’ pose acts as a form of ‘counter asana’ which is ideally to be performed prior or post any asana.
Benefits of Balasana
This pose helps relieves stress by regulating the blood circulation. It also aids in calming down the abdominal muscles and the lower muscles of the back.
- While in a knelt down position, your big toes have to be brought together.
- In a seated position on the heels, your knees have to be separated as wide apart as your hips.
- Now exhale. Lean forward as your head touches the ground.
- Face your palms upward while keeping your arms relaxed.
This represents a part of the hatha yoga poses and is also that of the Ashtanga primary series.
How It Benefits
This pose has calming effects on the mind and thus helps counter stress and anxiety. Besides, it also melts abdominal fat and helps curb obesity.
- Keep both the legs stretched in front and stretch the hands upwards .
- Bend forward as you attempt touching the toes.
- Now while bending further, keep your elbows touching the ground beside your knees while touching knees to the nose or to the forehead, throughout as you hold your toes .
Sukhasana or “easy pose’
A meditative asana or posture, Sukhasana can be performed at any time.
Benefits of Sukhasana
Sukhasana has calming properties to relax the mind and lower stress levels. On account of its stress reducing action, this in turn helps to reduce high blood pressure.
- Use your yoga mat or a carpet or cushion to sit on the ground while keeping your legs in a stretched out manner.
- Now your left leg has to be folded as you tug it within your thigh on the right.
- Now again while folding your right leg , tug your right leg within your thigh on the left.
- Now place your hands on your knees and use the Jnana mudra or Chin mudra during this posture when using it for meditation.
- Sit in an erect position with a straight spine.
- Now keep the entire body relaxed while breathing normally.
- Keep this position maintained as far as you are comfortable.
Similar to Sukhasana, this is also a posture that is meditative.
Benefits of Badhakonasana
The pose is beneficial in case of relieving fatigue which is responsible for high levels of stress and blood pressure. The posture helps to open the knees , groin and hip which aid in maintaining the meditative pose.
- Sit and straighten your legs
- Inhale. While bringing both heels in the direction of the pelvis, keep your feet joined.
- Now with the help of your thumb and second finger, hold your big toes of your feet while pushing your heel ahead in the direction of the pelvis.
- Straighten up the spine.
This pose forms part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga
Benefits of Janusirsasana
This pose helps cut down the fat in your belly and hips and hence treats obesity – the factor causing high blood pressure.
- In a seated position, keep your legs extended straight ahead of you.
- Keep the left leg folded such that your foot is touching your thigh on the right.
- Now while bending forward , touch the foot with both hands.
- Now with the help of your forehead , touch your knee of your right leg which is outstretched. Now exhale .
- Now after taking a gap of a few seconds, breathe in and then raise the head.
- With your other leg , repeat the same.
Virasana or ‘hero’ pose
This pose is an easy one and shares a similarity with vajrasana, though slightly different.
Benefits of Virasana
This pose regulates blood circulation throughout the body and thus controls the blood pressure.
- Kneel down and extend the spine.
- With knees kept together, and the feet apart, rest your back on the floor.
- While taking in deep breaths , exhale , with your hands kept rested on the thighs.
Setubandhasana or ‘bridge’ pose
This pose should be practiced with caution.
Benefits of setubandhasana
This pose aids in weight loss as it stretches the stomach and stimulates the thyroid glands. Besides, it also helps soothe the nerves and is effective in the treatment of insomnia, stress, fatigue and depression which again are the various other causes of high blood pressure.
- Lying on the back, stretch out your legs and firmly place your palms on the floor
- Next, bend the knees. Keeping the soles of the feet pressed and the upper arms onto the floor, push up the hips.
- Now keep your chest pushed slowly in the direction of your chin.
- If you cannot hold on to that position for a longer duration, keep your hands clasped from behind though keeping it firmly placed on the floor.
Ardhahalasana or ‘half plough’ pose
Benefits of Ardhahalasana
This pose is beneficial in reducing belly fat and strengthening the core muscles. Besides,it also aids in the reduction of the overall weight of the body and enhances the blood circulation.
- In a lying down position on your back, straighten your legs as in shavasana.
- Keeping both legs joined, keep the palms placed firmly while facing the floor.
- Slowly inhale . Take the legs up as you keep the knees straight and with the legs in a perpendicular position to the floor.
- Keep your breath on hold and for a while remain in this position.
- Continue exhaling.
- Put the legs down
- Now stay relaxed for a while
- Now repeat
- Cautionary Tips for High Blood Pressure
Though yoga a form of stress buster, is commonly practiced as a measure to control blood pressure, those suffering from hypertension may face some threats from a few of the poses. Hence some cautionary measures need to be undertaken by such patients while they practice yoga or pranayama.
Those suffering from hypertension must avoid poses that have head inversions such as such as shirshasana (The Headstand pose) or adho mukha vrikshasana (The Handstand pose), because performing such poses require the head to be in a level which is lower than that of heart. Performing this can result in the rush of blood to the head, that causes pressure that could give rise to brain strokes.
Patients having hypertension must practice yoga under the guidance of an expert. The exercises under yoga to counteract high blood pressure, must be performed at a slow pace in a gentle manner. Avoid pranayama exercises such as kapalbhati and bhastrika as these create heat in the body and raise the level of blood pressure .
The practice of pranayama and yoga are meant to bring a ‘feel good factor’ within the practitioner. In case the practitioner happens to face any health related issues soon after the beginning of a yoga session, the practice should be stopped and a physician must be consulted. Remember, yoga is a practice meant to help in healing health disorders rather than aggravating the same. So practice yoga, but do it with caution and care to ensure yoga as a safe practice.
The importance of practicing yoga under expert guidance
To avail the expert guidance for the practice of these various yoga poses, it is best to enrol for a yoga teacher training program conducted by Yoga Alliance affiliated yoga schools. Such schools are located worldwide and you may chose to travel to one of your favourite destinations to accomplish this purpose. Among some of the exotic locations across the globe are Bali (Indonesia), Thailand, Cambodia and a popular favourite – India. Being the birthplace of yoga, India has innumerable yoga schools that believe in the authentic system of yogic education such as Himalayan Yoga Association (HYA) in Rishikesh- the land of Rishis (saints).
To obtain the best of yogic education and to learn the yoga poses in an effective manner, it is essential to take the guided instructions of a certified mentor who will ensure that whatever you are learning and practicing in Yoga , is correct. Master your asanas and strenghthen as well as clarify your theoretical concepts under the tutelage of learned gurus under the exclusive ambience and ashram-like environment of Himalayan Yoga Association – the number 1 yoga school in Rishikesh. The yoga school in rishikesh conducts yoga teacher training courses as well as yoga retreats. For those who do not want to delve deep and yet get a feel of yoga as a means of rejuvenation and refreshment of the mind , body and soul, yoga retreats are the best way to venture into a short yogic journey. And for others wanting to step up their skills and know-how of the yogic wisdom, and gain a professional edge over the subject as a yoga teacher, a yoga teacher training is the ideal path to chose. And while choosing this path, to ensure that you are in the right track, choose the right yoga school which is recognised by Yoga Alliance. The Yoga Alliance sets the standard guidelines which are to be followed by yoga schools in the conduct of their courses on yoga teacher training so as to make the system an authentic one. So come to India to join the authentic yoga education program and get enlightened and rejuvenated in your mind, body and soul.
“He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything.“ – Arabian proverb