How Yoga Helps for High Blood Pressure
Written by Meera Watts.
Blood pressure is mainly caused by hypertension. This is the case for 95% of those who suffer from it. It is an independent condition that isn’t caused by other conditions. It affects nine out of ten Americans at one point in their life. Experts still aren’t really certain as to what causes high blood pressure. This is likely because there are several factors and each can overlap the other. There is a lot of knowledge of what the risks are when dealing with blood pressure for long periods of time.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Although they don’t know the exact cellular reasons for an increase in blood pressure, the medical industry has determined how to lower it. Most of the symptoms that come with high blood pressure will subside when blood pressure is lowered. Lifestyle factors that are in the control of every person has a large impact on blood pressure. Yoga has been found to be an excellent way to lower blood pressure. This is because yoga reduces negative effects within the central nervous system. Antioxidants increase and cortisol levels are reduced. Cortisol is the stress hormone that wreaks havoc on all areas of the body when it is overabundant in the body.
Yoga for High Blood Pressure
Studies have found that yoga stretches have an impact on your blood pressure. When you keep your muscles flexible, you help the arteries stay pliable which will naturally lower blood pressure. Those who are 40 years or older can best benefit from maintaining flexibility within the muscles. A sit-and-reach test has been found to assess how flexible the arteries are. Arterial stiffness is like a warning sign that cardiovascular disease could follow. Stretching exercises that can be found in yoga practices help slow down arterial stiffening at any age.
Prevention of Clogging Arteries
Damage to the inner lining of the artery can occur for many reasons. Cholesterol is then produced to help fix the damage. Although it is blamed for many health issues, it is essential for us to have cholesterol levels between 180 mg/dl to 200 mg/dl. The right amount of cholesterol aids in brain functioning, your cell membranes and steroid hormones. Trying to cut out cholesterol from your diet isn’t really going to help lower blood pressure significantly.
Diet and High Blood Pressure
Diet and your blood pressure are important. While you shouldn’t cut out all cholesterol, you should cut down if your daily diet consists of deep fried fatty foods every day. Inflammation puts your whole body at risk. It is also responsible for the development of high blood pressure. Those with high levels of C-reactive protein were twice as likely to develop high blood pressure. This is especially true for women. Inflammation damages blood vessels. While the body repairs that damage, it decreases the diameter of the blood vessels inside. This directly leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Inflammation develops from eating processed food, food high in sugar content, too much omega-6 oils such as sunflower or corn oil. If you’re overweight, this is another source of inflammation because fat cells tell the liver to produce the C-reaction protein (the cause of inflammation in the first place).
To reduce blood pressure, it’s important to avoid the nasty foods and replace it with organic vegetables of all colors. Fruits also. This will reduce inflammation.
Yoga and the Ability to Control What You Eat
You know that you have to make diet changes and they may seem really drastic if you’re used to eating whatever you want. This is where yoga comes in. If you look at a yoga instructor, they are quite happy to eat organic, natural foods and feel more fulfilled by their diet than a bag full of buttery popcorn. The fatty, processed foods don’t actually bring you any joy at all. In fact, if you were conscious about how those foods felt when they hit your stomach, you would probably feel less attached to them.
One of the side effects of yoga is that you slow the mind down. You become more aware and the five senses become more alive. Yoga asks that you breathe intentionally, that you feel your body stretching, and that you move mindfully. This transcends to all aspects of your life. The breath you practice in yoga makes you feel really relaxed. A relaxed state of being allows you to say no to food you usually can’t reject. This is one of the yogic benefits you’ll experience right after your very first class. You’ll feel a change in yourself and want to keep that good feeling going.
High Blood Pressure and Chronic Stress
Stress is a major contributor to high blood pressure. It provokes all the stress hormones and raises your blood pressure. Yoga has been show to lower blood pressure in a natural way by creating deep relaxation in all systems in the body. The sense of well being that you feel when you practice yoga regularly will very quickly lower your blood pressure. If you once overwhelmed by a constant feeling of stress and tension, you will notice a big difference in your life.
Biochemical changes that happen when you do yoga cause blood pressure to lower. Yoga helps to combat obesity, triglycerides, the width of your waist and low HDL.
It’s important to improve your circulation in order to stave off high blood pressure. Poses like Bound Angle Pose, Bridge Pose and Corpse Pose help stretch open the front of the body. Downward Facing Dog helps to stretch out the back of the body. It puts the heart over the head also so blood goes in the opposite direction and the heart gets a rest. Head to knee forward bend helps to stretch out arteries. Legs-Up-On-The-Wall Pose is helpful for relaxing the body and also moving the blood flow from the feet upwards.
Yoga helps stave off diseases and the effects of your daily stress. The body will be more energetic and you will generally feel happier. The chemicals that happiness brings help the body to stay relaxed and the mind to work optimally. Daily yoga practices can offer up these important benefits that help keep your blood pressure balanced:
- Digestion is improved.
- Promotion of better circulation and immunity.
- Enhances neurological and endocrine organ functions.
- Reduces blood pressure if it’s too high
- Reduces anxiety and panic.
- Helps people sleep when they have insomnia.
- Aids in depression.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali). Check out her Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter page.
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