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How to control your blood pressure with yoga

Here is how yoga can help you beat high blood pressure.

Written by Pavitra Sampath |Updated : March 10, 2015 6:24 PM IST

control blood pressureBlood pressure (BP) is the term for an essential function of the body, in which, as the heart alternately pumps and relaxes, the blood in the arteries exerts a force on their walls. Your blood pressure is measured by the combination of two numbers your systolic pressure (written above) and your diastolic pressure (written below). The systolic number measures your blood pressure while the heart pumps blood, and the diastolic number (which is regarded as more important aspect out of the two muners) represents the blood pressure between two heart beats.

If, for some reason (such as if your blood vessels are not relaxing normally or if there are blockages in your arterioles), your blood pressure is higher than the normal rate it is termed as high blood pressure.

The risks involved

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Though BP normally varies through the day, being higher at work and lowest when a person is sleeping, older persons, and those with undetected or neglected stress levels are at greater risk for high BP. This can also be a risk factor for many chronic diseases like:

  • Heart failure and stroke (especially at the time of waking) and heart attack
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Enlarged heart muscles
  • Kidney damage and endocrine gland malfunction
  • Weakens cardio-vascular system
  • Increases workload of heart and arteries.

Most importantly, hypertension is considered a silent killer because the condition often does not have any noticeable symptoms. Once diagnosed there are a number of medications a person can take in order to help keep their blood pressure under control. But apart from that you can also try alternative and natural methods to keep this condition under control. One such extremely effective method is yoga. Here's why this practice is great to keep your blood pressure in check:

  • Yoga helps create an alpha brain wave state that actually lowers blood pressure.
  • It brings balance to the autonomous nervous system and stabilizes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
  • The practice enhances blood circulation to all parts of the body and oxygenates the blood; enhancing alertness and cognitive skills while reducing stress and tension.
  • It helps make you stronger, more flexible and calms your mind.
  • Yoga also helps resolve problems like shallow breathing and increased heart rate.
  • Being scientific, yoga asanas channel the life-force or prana into all parts of the body, assisting the body to heal itself.
  • It also helps you lose weight and stay healthy.

Some Recommended Yogasanas

Sitting and supine positions that place the spine in a horizontal position, and exert less strain on the heart can be therapeutic. Depending on your condition, the following asanas can be considered:

Cautions to be Exercised

  • Practice yoga asanas only after consulting your healthcare professional, and a qualified yoga therapist; as the asanas that invert the body i.e. where the head is below the body - are to be avoided. Discuss your medication and diet regime with them. And once you have started yoga practice, careful monitoring of medication-levels by your doctor is crucial.
  • Gently close your eyes during yoga, rest a few breaths after each pose, and do not over exert yourself.
  • Follow the recommended inhalation/exhalation pattern for each asana.
  • A few gentle warm up exercises before the asanas, and resting in Shavaasana after the yoga routine, is essential.

Get the best out of your yoga practice: Eat right and exercise

Supplement your yoga practice with these simple, multi-therapeutic lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid salt: Learn to use lemon, low-fat curds, unusual spices and herbs as substitute taste-givers and enhancers. Remember, pickles also contain a lot of salt so give them a miss too. Opt for healthier low-salt chutneys and salads instead.
  • Gorge on vegetables: Vegetables and fruits rich in potassium and magnesium like lady fingers, black beans, pumpkin seeds and spinach can help in lowering BP.
  • Eat natural: Avoid canned, packaged, frozen and restaurant foods.
  • Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Load up on the juices: Try inculcating a taste for herbal and green teas as well as for fruit drinks like pomegranate juice.
  • Keep your doctor in the loop: It is essential that you consult your doctor for the recommended levels of fat/oil you should have. Also, make sure you monitor your weight gain closely and discuss with your doctor the type and level of daily exercise that is best for you.
  • Be calm: Try incorporating meditation, pranayama into your daily life and learn the art of letting go.
  • Try Ayurveda: Ayurveda is an ancient science focused on living a healthy life by adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is a natural alternative to allopathic medicines and is also free from any side-effects. Adopting ayurveda along with yoga can help keep a check on your blood pressure levels and with due time, normalize it for good.

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