Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure (BP), is a common health problem today. Not only does it pose health risks by increasing the risk of conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, but it can also have a negative effect on a person’s overall well-being. Yoga is often recommended to lower high blood pressure, and a study in BMC Public Health found that practicing yoga significantly increases the chances of maintaining normal blood pressure. However, it is important to note that practicing yoga with high blood pressure carries some risks and should be approached with caution.
Is it safe to do yoga with high blood pressure?
Yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress, improve flexibility and improve overall well-being. However, for people with high blood pressure, certain yoga poses can be counterproductive and even potentially harmful. Yoga expert Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar, the founder of Akshar Yoga Research and Development Centre, says: “Certain yoga poses, such as inversions, can temporarily increase blood pressure as it increases blood flow to the head, putting strain on the neck and shoulders. In addition, the breath control involved in yoga can lead to sudden drops in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness. People with hypertension or high blood pressure should therefore practice yoga under the guidance of or after consultation with their doctor.”
9 yoga poses to avoid if you have hypertension or high blood pressure
1. Headstand (Sirsasana)
This inversion position increases blood flow to the head and can increase blood pressure. Persons with hypertension should avoid putting their head below their heart for extended periods of time.
2. Handstand (Adho mukha vrksasana)
Just like a headstand, a handstand is an inversion that can lead to increased blood pressure. It places significant strain on the cardiovascular system and may not be suitable for people with hypertension.
3. Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
While this pose has several health benefits, it can also increase blood pressure as a result of the inversion. If attempted, it should be done under the guidance of an experienced instructor and with modifications.
4. Plow Pose (Halasana)
Plow pose is another inversion that can affect blood pressure. It compresses the neck and throat area, potentially leading to increased pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure should approach this position with caution.
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5. Chakrasana or Wheel Pose (Urdhva dhanurasana)
Wheel pose is a deep backbend that can be quite intense. Therefore, it can cause a spike in blood pressure. People with hypertension should approach this position gradually and with appropriate adjustments.
6. Intense Forward Bends (Paschimottanasana)
Although forward bends are generally considered beneficial for relaxation, intense variations can tax the cardiovascular system. It is advisable for people with high blood pressure to perform these postures with caution and avoid overexertion.
7. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita trikonasana)
This pose involves a wide stance and a deep stretch. For people with hypertension, it is essential to avoid excessive strain and maintain a comfortable range of motion.
8. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
This balancing position requires stability and focus. Persons with high blood pressure should be careful to avoid straining and maintain stable breathing throughout the position.
Also read: Tame your high blood pressure problems with these yoga asanas and Pranayam techniques
9. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
The camel pose can be intense and can increase blood pressure. Modifications, such as using props or reducing the depth of the backbend, can make this pose more accessible to people with hypertension.
Yoga poses for high blood pressure
Incorporate these yoga poses into your daily routine to lower your high blood pressure and promote overall heart health.
- Child’s Pose (Balasana): Being one of the easiest yoga poses, it promotes relaxation and stress reduction.
- Corpse Pose (Savasana): This yoga pose facilitates deep rest, calmness and relaxation.
- Legs-against-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani): In addition to stimulating blood circulation in your body, it also promotes relaxation, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana): It helps calm the nervous system and improve your breathing.
- Pranayama techniques: Pranayama techniques such as Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) and Ujjayi breathing can balance energy levels, promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine, including yoga, if you are a high blood pressure patient.