Many people suffer from hypertension, and asanas performed during yoga are a good way to help allieviate the symptoms of it. There are some specific asanas that are particularly effective at helping to manage hypertension.
Otherwise known as high blood pressure, hypertension is a condition shared by many people around the world. If you and your doctor are looking for ways to control hypertension in addtion to conventional treatments, diet modifications and additional exercises such as walking and yoga may help.
Hypertension and Asanas: What May Help
If you have your doctor's permission to practice yoga, you can start out with some of the easier yoga poses and work your way up to a full yoga practice. The good news is that some of the most basic positions in yoga are the ones that are most effective at reducing hypertension.
The word asana refers to static positions, or postures, which are yoga poses to be held for a few minutes at a time. Asanas range from easy postures such as Corpse Pose to very advanced poses, such as headstands or other inverted poses.
Asanas to Lower Blood Pressure
Many people find that the following asanas are helpful for lowering blood pressure. They are listed in order of difficulty, starting with the easiest.
- Savasana, or Corpse Pose: This pose is done by lying on your back on the floor. Separate your legs so that there's a small space between them, and place your arms at your sides at a comfortable distance from your body. Open your hands, palms up, close your eyes, and try to relax every muscle in your body. Breathe. Stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes, paying attention to your breath.
- Sukhasana, or Easy Pose: This is the seated pose similar to Lotus Pose. Sit in a cross-legged position with your feet tucked in under your lower legs. Place the hands on the knees, palms up. Close your eyes and make contact with the floor through your tailbone, imagining a straight line from your head down your spine. Relax, but keep your spine energized - don't slouch. Hold the pose for a few minutes.
- Makarasana, or Crocodile Pose: This is another pose that is done lying on the floor. It is different from Savasana in that you lie on your stomach instead of your back, with your head resting on your hands or your forearms. When you raise up slightly, take care not to put strain on the lower back. There are many variations of this pose, based on your level of fitness. See the picture at the top of this page for a demonstration of Makarasana.
- Forward Bends: If you're a little more fit, this hypertension and asanas combination is a good one. There are types of many forward bends, and all are helpful for managing blood pressure. One variation of a forward bend is to stand with your legs spread wide, feet pointing straight ahead. Then, bend forward from the waist. Use props to support your hands at whatever height is a comfortable forward bend for you. Do not hold this pose as long as you would the previous three, especially if your head is below your heart. Pay special attention; if you start to feel light-headed, lie down immediately. Look at this example of a Wide-Legged Forward Bend.
Added Benefit of Breath
When practicing Corpse Pose, or other simple yoga poses, it's very important to pay attention to your breathing. The proper breathing technique - slow, deep, both in and out through the nose - will do wonders for helping to control your blood pressure.
Hypertension and asanas can also come together in the practice of combining pranayama with asana. Pranayama is a breathing technique of yoga which can be practiced on its own as well. While combining pranayama with asanas can be difficult if you are practicing flow yoga, such as Vinyasa, using pranayama with simple yoga postures is very manageable, and important for reaping the full benefits of each pose.