This is the sixth article of a series of articles on how to practise yoga in consultation with Ayurvedic and Yoga consultant Dr. Pushpika Attanayake.
This week’s discussion is on yoga postures that could be used to effectively control hypertension.
Hypertension is a common condition that will catch up with most people as they age. Commonly referred to as blood pressure, this is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries. When this is too high, it raises the heart’s workload and can cause serious damage to the arteries.
Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. “Raised blood pressure is an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and chronic kidney disease. This is defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher,” Dr Attanayake says.
She also says that according to research, 90 to 95 percent of all cases of high blood pressure are characterized as essential hypertension, which means that it’s an independent condition that is not triggered by another disease condition.
Effect of yoga
“Yoga helps reduce stress while addressing underlying causes for this increase in blood pressure. It also creates tranquility and inner peace,” says Dr Attanayake. “Yoga practice has a pacifying effect, it helps balancing body energies and conscious breathing which helps focus.
“Stress can increase one’s blood pressure, but there’s no evidence that it causes high blood pressure as an ongoing condition.
“However, stress may affect risk factors for heart disease, so it may have an indirect connection to hypertension. Stress may lead to other unhealthy habits, such as a poor diet, alcohol use, or smoking, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease”, adds Dr. Attanayake.
Being overweight places a strain on the heart and increases your risk of high blood pressure. That is why diets to lower blood pressure are also designed to control calories. They typically call for cutting fatty foods and added sugars while increasing fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fibre.
“Even losing 10 pounds can make a difference in controlling high blood pressure. Yoga lowers blood pressure naturally by inducing deep relaxation in the body, which is associated with reduced nervous system activity and a feeling of well-being as well as by weight reduction”, Dr. Attanayake contends.
While doing these poses, make sure that you are not agitated or uncomfortable. If you feel flushed, hot, or dizzy while practising, come out of the pose and rest in balasana (child’s pose) until you feel normal again.”
Adho Mukha Svanasana
1. Begin this pose on your hands and knees
2. Press the weight of your body evenly through the hands, as you straighten your arms and lift up through the inner edges of the arms.
3. Straighten the legs and lift your pelvis up.
4. Separate your feet wider apart. Your legs should be positioned wider than your hip-width.
5. Hold the pose for a few minutes.
6. When you come down, separate and bend your knees, sit on your heels and release your head to the floor in balasana.
1. Kneel on the floor.
2. Sit back on your heels.
3. Lengthen our spine and bend forward resting your forehead on the floor.
4. Rest your arms on either side of your body.
5. Relax in this pose for some time.
1. Sit on the floor, extending both your legs straight in front of you.
2. Feet should be hip-width apart.
3. Extend forward and hold the outer edges of your feet with your hands.
4. Lengthen your abdomen and rest your forehead on the legs.
5. Hold for two minutes and then return to sitting position.
6. Relax in balasana.
After the yoga session, relax in Svanasana for 15 minutes.