If you’ve read the articles here about the effects of stress and anger on your blood pressure and heart, consider reducing stress with Yoga-how to rescue your heart.
This integrated approach to movement supports the health of the body and the mind.
Some practitioners and teachers say that movement through various yoga poses makes yoga a moving meditation.
They’re right. And even for people who can’t sit still to meditate, Yoga’s benefits are simple and effective to achieve.
During a yoga session, each of the poses (called “Asanas”) are linked to the breath.
- Movement is guided by the inhales and exhales.
As you take the open poses, where you extend or lengthen your body, you inhale.
When you fold or contract your body, you exhale.
- Some poses build strength and endurance. Others allow your muscles to lengthen and relax.
A complete yoga practice takes your spine in all six directions: forward, up, back, bending (side to side) and twisting to the left and right.
Yoga exercises increase strength and flexibility while having a calming effect on your mind and nervous system.
The physical benefits of yoga include:
- Helping you improve and maintain flexibility
- Building your muscle strength and endurance
- Elevating your heart rate, harmlessly (depending on the style of yoga)
- Keeping your spine supple
- Improving your posture
- Improving your blood circulation
- Maintaining your cartilage and joints
- Lowering/stabilizing your blood pressure
- Improving your functional fitness
- Boosting your heart health
And that’s just to start…as a beginner.
The mental benefits associated with yoga include:
- Improving depression and increasing your levels of Serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for your moods.
- Improving your ability to focus and concentrate
- Alleviating stress, and anxiety
- Decreasing the body’s fight or flight response while increasing the relaxation response
- Building confidence
- Fostering an increased sense of well-being
- Developing mindfulness, which results in better awareness of your body so that you can meet its needs
About Your Blood Pressure:
Your blood pressure reading measures the level of force exerted on the walls of the body’s blood vessels as blood passes through them.
A high blood pressure reading indicates that the heart must work harder to do this.
Blood pressure readings measure two components, the systolic and diastolic readings.
Systolic and diastolic pressure corresponds to the two stages of a heartbeat.
- The reading is most often written out like a fraction, with the systolic reading on the top and the diastolic reading on the bottom.
A blood pressure reading of less than 120/80 falls within the normal range. High blood pressure or hypertension becomes a concern when a reading exceeds this range.
Brand new statistics from the American Heart Association and the American College Of Cardiology lists the newest guidelines for blood pressure management:
- Normal: Less than 120/80
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120.
If a hypertensive crisis is the case, patients will need prompt changes in medication (if no other problems are present), or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to various health problems, including:
- Damage to the heart and coronary arteries that can lead to heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis and aortic dissection.
- Vision loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Fluid in the lungs
- Kidney damage
- Peripheral Artery Disease
How Yoga Reduces Blood Pressure
Stress, obesity, and poor diet adversely affect your blood pressure.
Stress causes a consistent pattern of adrenal stimulation and increased heart rate, essentially causing the body to remain in fight or flight mode.
- The heart works harder when it raises your blood pressure.
An obese person’s heart must multiply its efforts to send oxygenated blood throughout the body.
- A poor diet, especially one high in processed foods, sodium, and fat contributes to hardening of the arteries. (atherosclerosis)
As the arteries narrow, more force is required to move blood through them, which increase the probability of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and possibly heart failure.
Yoga addresses each of these issues and is recommended as a complementary therapy to manage and prevent high blood pressure.
- The physical postures build muscle and bone density, which helps you manage and lose weight.
- They also strengthen your heart by improving your circulation.
- The mindfulness component allows you to build thought patterns, which lend themselves to making mindful choices across the board. This includes building a healthy diet.
- Yoga also lowers your blood pressure. A recent study attributes yoga’s effect on blood pressure to its mindfulness and relaxation components.
According to researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, yoga provides excellent benefits to people seeking to relieve anxiety and overall improvement in their mood.
- Yoga eases the stress and anxiety, which contribute to depression, poor dietary choices, and a sedentary lifestyle.
- Yoga provides an accessible and effective way to prevent and manage high blood pressure.
In this sense, it is a complementary therapy and professional guidance is necessary.
People who have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) need to consult with their doctor and a knowledgeable yoga instructor before beginning a yoga program, as some of the poses may need to be modified, depending on your physical condition or health-related complications.
But don’t count yourself out if you have any other medical conditions you’re concerned about.
Yoga is for everyone. There are multiple modifications to the poses that, when taught by a professional (certified) instructor, can and will help you achieve your goals.