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Yoga Poses for High Blood Pressure

By Krista Sheehan

There are two different camps with regard to yoga and high blood pressure. One camp is convinced that yoga reduces high blood pressure; and the other agrees that while some practices and poses within yoga can reduce hypertension, you should stay away from inverted poses like Headstand. The safest route to take if you have high blood pressure that's being treated with medication, is to ask your doctor her opinion about inversions. And if you have untreated high blood pressure, never attempt fully inverted poses.

Cat Pose

The Cat pose requires you to coordinate your movement with your breath in a fluid motion. Although the pose may not lessen high blood pressure, it is generally quite safe for patients with hypertension since it does not place stress on the body and keeps the heart elevated. Position yourself on all fours. Align your knees directly underneath your hips, while your hands should rest directly underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers against the ground and flatten your back with your eyes gazing to the ground. Breathe in deeply. On the exhale, tuck your shoulders and tailbone toward the ground while arching your middle back like a cat. Hold the pose for about 10 seconds before returning to neutral position. The Cat pose stretches the spine and releases stress in the abdominals and shoulders.

Stand Spread Leg Forward Fold

Unlike a traditional forward fold, this modified position does not require an extreme bend at the waist. Begin by placing your feet about four feet apart, toes pointing forward. Position your hands in a prayer position, resting gently against your chest. Slowly bend forward at the hip, lowering your torso until it is parallel with the floor. In this position, you should have roughly a 90-degree angle at the waist. Once in position, stretch out the neck slightly to lengthen the back. If you have high blood pressure, do not move past this 90-degree position. When done correctly, the Stand Spread Leg Forward Fold helps stretch the spine and the backs of the legs.

Corpse Pose

The yoga Corpse pose is considered restorative; it is often used at the end of a yoga session for final relaxation. Relaxation exercises can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress and relieve muscle tension. Lie on your back on a cushioned yoga mat with your legs extended. Allow your thighs, knees and feet to fall to the sides. Rest your arms at your sides with your palms facing up. Soften the muscles in your face and close your eyes. Concentrate on relaxing every muscle in your body. Once your body has completely relaxed, focus on quieting your mind. Hold the pose for five to 10 minutes.

Breathing and Relaxation

Some yoga breathing techniques will teach you to breathe fully and evenly. The added benefit to controlled deep breathing is that it can lower your blood pressure. It's not just the breathing itself; it's the fact that deep breathing lessens anxiety and slows your heart rate; all good things when you have high blood pressure. For Alternate Nostril Breath, sit on the floor in a loose cross-legged pose with a straight back. Close off your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through your left nostril. Close off your left nostril with your right pinky and open your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril; and exhale through your right nostril. Release your left nostril; close off your right nostril and inhale through your left. Exhale through your left nostril and then continue alternating in this fashion until you have completed 10 full rounds.

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