Hypertension or high blood pressure greatly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Did you know that these are, respectively, the 5th and 1st leading causes of death in the United States of America? However, yoga poses to reduce high blood pressure can prove immensely beneficial for the same.
Fact: Approximately one in every three Americans has hypertension or high blood pressure.
Yoga Poses to reduce blood pressure
The below-mentioned asanas to reduce hypertension are therapeutic and gentle for individuals with high BP.
Tip – Do the following yoga poses to reduce blood pressure on an exercise or yoga mat (a nonslip surface).
1. Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose
This yoga for hypertension stimulates circulation and acts as a hip opener.
Muscles worked – The lower back.
Muscles stretched – Hips (gracilis and adductors), inner thighs, and neck.
- Sit on the mat and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you, bend your knees as if you are ‘butterflying' your legs.
- Bring your heels close to your pelvis, grab hold of your toes to gently help this motion.
- Sit up tall on your sitting bones as you inhale.
Tip – Do not tuck your pelvis here as it can crunch your lower spine.
- Press your knees to the ground as you exhale.
- Start bending at your hips and take your ribs towards your legs. This should be done gently while keeping your spine straight.
In case you are flexible, you can also use your elbows and forearms to press on your knees.
- Release any tension in your neck by dropping your chin, when you lower down as far as you can comfortably go without letting your spine start to curve.
This yoga pose to reduce hypertension offers strength to your glutes, abdominals, and hamstrings. While strengthening the core, this asana to reduce blood pressure can help relieve lower back and hip aches.
Tip – People with high BP should avoid bigger backbends.
This yoga pose to reduce blood pressure offers many advantages of deeper backbends, without causing issues for individuals with this condition.
Muscles worked – Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus.
Muscles stretched – Hip flexors and lower back.
- Lie back on the mat, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Your feet and legs should be parallel and hip-width apart.
- Rock your pelvis as you inhale so your lower back is pressed against the floor and your stomach pulls in, and lift your hips as you press into your feet.
- You can even press your arms and hands into the floor to help you support and balance the movement.
Remember that the primary work should come from your abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings.
Tip – Keep your shoulder blades in contact with the ground at all times for providing pressure on your neck.
- Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths with your hips diagonally from the chest. Raise your hips (as high as the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals can support this movement without arching the lower back) for avoiding strain in your lower back.
- Roll the spine gently onto the floor as you exhale (1 vertebra at a single time), from your upper back down.
Takeaway Tip- Ensure that your spine is neutral while resting and preparing for the next bridge.
What’s the number? – Ten times with ten even, slow breaths.
3. Janu Sirsasana or Head-to-knee forward bend
The head-to-knee forward bend is a therapeutic asana to reduce hypertension. It calms the brain and improves digestion, stretching the groin, back of the legs, shoulders, and spine. This is a beneficial yoga pose to reduce high blood pressure, even if you are not super flexible like some individuals who can place their foreheads on their legs.
Muscles stretched – Latissimus dorsi, spinal extensors, hamstrings, and calf muscles (gastrocnemius).
- Sit up on your mat, stretch your right leg out in front of you and pull your left foot into the juncture between your groin and your right leg.
- Press your left hand into the crease of your groin and thigh and your right hand into the floor as you sit up in a straight position and inhale. Extend your spine, turn your torso slightly, so that your right thigh is lined up with your belly button.
- Start holding forward from your groin as you exhale. Hold onto both ends by using a towel or strap around your foot.
Do this – Try reaching out for your foot or your shin as you bend, ONLY IF it does not compromise your spine's bend.
- As you ease forward, bend your elbows out to the side.
- Take a pause when you have comfortably reached a stretch of your back, calves, and hamstrings. Feel your spine lengthen by inhaling and deepen the stretch by easing yourself forward again and exhaling.
What’s the number? Hold this for three more even, deep breaths. Sit upright gently, switch your legs, and repeat on the other side.
4. Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-the-Wall
Viparita Karani is a calming and passive inversion yoga pose to reduce hypertension. This is a safe yoga pose to reduce high blood pressure because your head and heart are on the floor level.
Tip – Check with the doctor before adding this yoga for hypertension to your daily routine.
Muscles stretched – Hips and hamstrings.
- Your mat should be placed perpendicular to a wall that is on the floor level. You should sit parallel to the wall on the mat, lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Using your upper tailbone and lower back as your pivot point, pick up your feet and swing your torso gently so it is perpendicular to the wall.
- Extend your legs up the wall once you are comfortable.
Tip – Place a folded blanket or cushion under the lower back if it feels better.
- Rest the arms next to you, palms up and hang the hips heavy into your mat.
Beyond these yoga poses to reduce high blood pressure, the below-mentioned tips can also help lower your blood pressure. These include –
- Quitting smoking if you smoke.
- Exercising regularly.
- Reducing stress.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Eating a healthy diet.
Takeaway Tip- Talk with your doctor and check with your yoga instructor to ensure the specific asanas to reduce blood pressure are entirely safe for you.