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Managing High Blood Pressure with Yoga Therapy

Did you know that Hypertension is a fairly common problem in Singapore? Based on the Health Hub SG, it is estimated that slightly less than 1 in 4 Singapore residents aged 30 to 69 years have hypertension. As you age, the chances of getting Hypertension increases and more than 1 in 2 people in the 60 to 69 years age group have hypertension.

One natural and safe method to control hypertension can be through Yoga Therapy practices!

Yoga can be a very beneficial therapy for controlling and lowering high blood pressure naturally. This gentle and soothing practice helps calm both mind and body and reduces stress. By practising the right techniques, Yoga can help to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and repair, and turn off the sympathetic nervous system, used for the fight-or-flight stress response.

Before we get started on the practice together with Krishna, let’s dive a bit deeper into this topic.

 

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure also known as Hypertension is the condition in where blood is pumped around the body at too high a pressure.

Our blood pressure does not stay consistent throughout the day. For most people, it is the lowest when asleep and increases as you become more active. Not only so, but our blood pressure also fluctuates accordingly to our mood too (when we are feeling excited, nervous, stress and many more).

 

Learning How To Read Your Blood Pressure!

Our Blood Pressure (BP) is normally displayed by two numbers. Let’s say your reading is 120/80, the systolic BP is 120mmHg and the diastolic BP is 80mmHg.

  • What is Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure?

Systolic Pressure: It is the blood pressure in the arteries that results when your heart contracts or beats, pushing blood out.

Diastolic Pressure: It is the fall in blood pressure in arteries when your heart relaxes between beats. Diastolic blood pressure can increase with age as a result of stiffening arteries.

  • What is my Blood Pressure telling me?

A healthy blood pressure reading should be lower than 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic (see blood pressure chart below), and may vary from 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg in a healthy young woman. A blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher indicates high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Reading Chart (Source: Harvard Health Publishing)

 

Causes of High Blood Pressure

There are two types of high blood pressure.

Primary hypertension

For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years. A combination of factors may play a role. These factors include:

  • Genes: Some people are genetically predisposed to hypertension and it can be due to gene mutations or genetic abnormalities that run in the family.
  • Physical changes: If something in your body changes, you may begin experiencing issues throughout your body. High blood pressure may be one of those issues. For example, it’s thought that changes in your kidney function due to ageing may upset the body’s natural balance of salts and fluid. This change may cause your body’s blood pressure to increase.
  • Environment: Our lifestyle choices can play a huge part in our health and that includes our risk of hypertension. Unhealthy habits such as overdrinking, lack of exercise and a poor diet increase our risk of hypertension as well.
Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that developed from other medical conditions. Secondary hypertension can be caused by conditions that affect your kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.

 

Who Is More Likely to Develop High Blood Pressure?

  • As you age, the risk of high blood pressure increases
  • If you have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Being physically inactive
  • Smoking
  • Too much salt in your diet
  • Too little potassium in your diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress
  • Certain chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea

 

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is often called the silent killer. This is because, even when severe, it may not give rise to any symptoms until complications such as a stroke or heart attack sets in. For some who have High Blood Pressure, you may experience headaches or giddiness when the symptoms are severe. However, these symptoms are not only specific to High Blood Pressure.

 

Complications Arising From High Blood Pressure

Hypertension increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). If left untreated it can cause:

  • Heart Failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Peripheral artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels of the limbs)
  • Kidney failure

 

Yoga Therapy Practices For High Blood Pressure

If you are looking to keep your High Blood Pressure in a healthy range, you can try out this Yoga Therapy practice at home together with Krishna.

In general, before starting a practice, always check with your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or any condition. Then proceed with caution and listen to your body and breath. If you feel faint, dizzy, or experience rapid breathing, stop and rest. Please note that these practices DO NOT replace any medication you are taking for Hypertension.

 

yoga for hypertension

Tree Pose

Benefits: This asana helps to calm down the mind and brings the balance in body and mind so it reduces the stress and helps in high blood pressure.

  1. Begin by standing 2 inches feet apart.
  2. Pick a focal point and while you exhale bend the right leg and place the foot on the inside of the left thigh.
  3. For those who are unable to bring the foot to the inside of the left thigh, place it on the inside of your left calf. (Do not place it on the knee section.
  4. Inhale and extend the arms up and bring the palms together.
  5. In this position continue deep breathing pulling in the tummy muscles and expanding the spine upwards with every exhalation.
  6. Stay here for 30 to 45 seconds.
  7. Slowly exhaling bring the arms down and then the right foot down to rest.
  8. Continue this with the other foot.

 

yoga for hypertension

Eagle Pose

Benefits: This asana helps to calm down the mind and brings the balance in body and mind so it reduces the stress and helps in high blood pressure.

  1. Begin standing in Mountain Pose.
  2. Next, bend your knees. Place the balance on your right foot and cross your left thigh over your right.
  3. Fix your gaze at a point in front of you and hook the top of your left foot behind your right calf. If you are unable to hook your foot, cross the leg over the top of the standing leg and rest the toes gently on the floor.
  4. Proceed to bring your arms straight in front of your body and drop your left arm under your right.
  5. Bend your elbows, and then raise your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Wrap your arms and hands, and press your palms together.
  6. Lift your elbows and reach your fingertips toward the ceiling. Keep your shoulder blades pressing down your back, toward your waist
  7. Square your hips and chest to the front wall. Draw your belly in and up.
  8. Gaze at the tips of your thumbs.
  9. Hold the pose for 30 to 45 seconds,  and continue to focus on your breath and keep the gaze fixed and soft.
  10. Repeat on the opposite side.

 

yoga for hypertension

Camel Pose

Benefits: It helps in opening the chest and creates more space for the lungs and heart. And releases the excess pressure from the heart.

  1. Begin on your knees with your legs and feet hip-width distance.
  2. Proceed to bring hands behind you at your hips.
  3. Engage your core and press your hips and thighs forward.
  4. Lift your chest and reach back touching your heels with your hands.
  5. Gaze behind you and stay with it for 30 to 45 seconds.
  6. Slowly bring your hands back to your glutes and then exhale lift your torso up.
  7. For those who are unable to touch heels, leave your hands on your glutes.

 

yoga for hypertension

Mountain Pose (in sitting position)

Benefits: It gives a peaceful and calming effect on the mind. While sitting in padmasana by raising hands over the head, with the gravity the blood can flow down and releases the pressure from the heart.

  1. Begin in a lotus pose or simply cross your legs.
  2. Keep your hands at the side and on the mat.
  3. As you Inhale, take your hands up and join the palms together.
  4. Close your eyes and hold the pose for a while.
  5. Then exhale and bring the arms back down.

 

yoga for hypertension

Hands In & Out Breathing 

Benefits: All these pranayamas help in calming down the mind, soothing the nervous system, reduces the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system so it helps in reducing the height blood pressure.

  1. Lengthening the arms in the front so that the palms are facing each other.
  2. Inhale and take the hands out. Spreading the hands out and expanding the chest as much as you can.
  3. Exhale and bring it back to the centre. Make sure you synchronise hand movement to the breathing.
  4. Bringing the hands out and back in counts as 1 round. Repeat this for 5 rounds.
  5. In the last round try to hold the pose for some time before coming back.

 

yoga for hypertension

Chandra Anuloma (Left Nostril Breathing)

Benefits: All these pranayamas help in calming down the mind, soothing the nervous system, reduces the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system so it helps in reducing the height blood pressure.

  1. Form the Nasika Mudra with your right hand.
  2. Close the right nostril with the tip of your thumb.
  3. Inhale and exhale slowly through the left nostril only, ensure that the right nostril is closed at all times during the practice.
  4. One cycle of inhalation and exhalation forms one round.
  5. You can do this for 9,11 or 21 rounds.

 

yoga for hypertension

Nadi Shuddhi ( Alternate Nostrils Breathing) 

Benefits: All these pranayamas help in calming down the mind, soothing the nervous system, reduces the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system so it helps in reducing the height blood pressure.

  1. Sit in any comfortable crossed-leg position with back and neck erect.
  2. Put Chin mudra in the left hand and Nasikagra mudra in the right hand.
  3. Close the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril, then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This makes one round.
  4. Continue this for 5, 10 or 21 rounds.

 

yoga for hypertension

Bhrami Pranayama (Sound Pranayama) (9 rounds)

Benefits: All these pranayamas help in calming down the mind, soothing the nervous system, reduces the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system so it helps in reducing the height blood pressure.

  1. Sit in any comfortable crossed-leg position with back and neck erect.
  2. Keep your tongue to the upper palate and close the lips.
  3. Close your ears with thumbs and cover eyes with remaining fingers.
  4. Inhale deeply and produce the humming bee sound while exhaling from the throat.
  5. Continue this practice for 5, 9, 11 or 21 rounds.

 

Tips on Controlling High Blood Pressure

A healthy lifestyle is great to help keep your blood pressure in check! Other than the Yoga Therapy techniques recommended above, here are some tips you can incorporate in your daily life.

Reduce consumption of alcohol & smoking

Mayo Clinic stated that one drink a day for women and two for men can help lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. But when one overconsumes alcohol that protective effect is actually lost. Overdrinking actually increases your blood pressure and can also cause weight gain. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.

In terms of smoking, Nicotine is the reason for your spike in blood pressure and heart rate. Prolong smoking can narrow your arteries and hardens the walls, making your blood more likely to clot. It stresses your heart and sets you up for a heart attack or stroke.

 

Maintain a balanced diet

A balanced diet is a key in maintaining good health and maintaining healthy blood pressure. Consuming a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure and helo control it at a healthy range. Don’t forget to keep yourself properly hydrated through the day too!

It definitely takes time to change your eating habits, but it is the small steps that count! Helo yourself adhere to a balanced diet by

  • Keeping a food diary
  • Shopping smart when it comes to your groceries, remember to read food labels and go for the healthier option

 

Avoid food with high sodium

If you currently suffering high blood pressure, you may want to know that a reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg!

The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure can vary amongst many. But the ideal amount of sodium intake for adults is 1500mg (or less) per day.

If you are looking to reduce your sodium intake you can try choosing a low-sodium alternative of the foods and beverages you normally buy, consume less processed food (most processed food are high in sodium) and/or slowly reduce the amount of salt you use in your cooking gradually!

 

Monitor your blood pressure regularly

The best way to prevent complications and avoid problems is to catch hypertension early. You can come into your doctor’s office for a blood pressure reading, or your doctor may ask you to purchase a blood pressure cuff and take readings at home.

Keep a log of your blood pressure readings and take it to your regular doctor appointments. This can help your doctor see any possible problems before the condition advances.

 

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.

If you have elevated blood pressure, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

For those who already have hypertension you will want to avoid:

  • Inversions and forward bends
  • Vigorous and dynamic practices

Instead, you can opt for practices such as:

  • Standing balancing asanas
  • Asanas that help with the health of the kidney & liver
  • Light walking
Reduce your stress level

Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure! Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.

Take some time to think about what situations cause you to feel stressed and anxious. For some of us, a huge attribute of stress comes from work, so we recommend that you take a short break whenever you feel like you are overwhelmed. Also, try to ensure that you have work-life balance too!

Pranayama and breathing practices are also a great way to cope with stress and soothe your senses!

 

 

Want to get the in-depth breakdown of the Yoga Therapy practice for  High Blood Pressure? Play the video here!

1. Have any questions regarding Yoga Therapy for High Blood Pressure? 

2. Want more practices to manage High Blood Pressure?

3. Any other practices you will like us to breakdown?

Let us know in the comment section down below!

 

 

 Get more Yoga tips and tricks here:

Want To Learn More About Yoga Therapy? Here’s What Krishna Have To Say!

Relieve Your Stress and Anxiety with These 5 Yin Yoga Poses

Yoga Versus Pilates! What Are The Differences?

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