Yoga Therapy For High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States and puts them at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are a few ways yoga therapy can be useful for helping manage high blood pressure.
- Yoga can make muscles more pliable which may correlate to less arterial stiffness. A study in the American Journal of Physiology found that a simple sit and reach test in people over 40 could indicate arterial stiffness. So it is a possibility that more flexibility could correlate with less stiffness in the arteries.
- Reduced stress levels and associated hormone levels help lower blood pressure. Numerous studies have found that Yoga reduces cortisol (stress hormone levels). Asana, pranayama, and meditation all have the ability to shift stress levels and tone the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Yoga has been shown not only to reduce blood pressure levels, it also helps to reduce blood glucose, cholesterol, and body weight. These are the major factors for risk of heart attack and strokes.
These results have been noted in yoga studies using various yoga techniques. A qualified Yoga Therapist can individualize a practice for their clients—the key to providing the right kind of yoga to help with specific conditions. (Some yoga poses are contraindicated for high blood pressure for example, some inversions or poses that put pressure on abdomen raising bp.)
To achieve the optimal stress-reducing benefits of yoga, practices should be custom tailored to your personal makeup. In the BDYT model, we assess clients and offer specific asana, breathing, and meditation practices to best address a client’s stressors on all levels in order to bring the system back into balance. For instance, while meditation, in general, is good for reducing blood pressure, a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapist would assign a particular meditation practice that matches the symptoms and Ayurvedic imbalances. In this way, clients achieve greater results than a generalized approach to their condition.
I have seen many clients improve their blood pressure numbers with yoga therapy, as well as, personally reaping the benefits of reducing my own blood pressure with practice. I encourage anyone struggling with this condition to reach out to us or to a well-qualified Yoga Therapist to begin the process of learning how to reduce their blood pressure and take control of their health.
As always, please use yoga therapy in conjunction with western health care. We are stronger together.