08 July, 2011
Bikram Yoga & Hypertension
While exercise is often recommended to reduce high blood pressure, not all exercises cause the same response during the activity. If you currently have hypertension, you may need to use modifications when participating in Bikram yoga. The high temperature of a Bikram yoga room allows you to feel a deeper yoga stretch, but may also cause a rise in your blood pressure.
Bikram yoga consists of a series of 26 yoga poses that are said to align your body from the inside out. This alignment allows for smooth blood flow, strong muscles and reduced stress. You practice Bikram yoga in a room that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat warms your muscles and increases your flexibility during the workout.
High Blood Pressure
During heated yoga practice, your heart rate rises in response to the heat. This may cause an elevation in blood pressure. Also, the heat of the room and saunalike atmosphere increase your sweat rate and water loss. Your blood pressure fluctuates in response to water, and when you are dehydrated, your blood pressure increases. Speak with your doctor regarding the benefits of Bikram yoga for reducing your blood pressure over the long term. While practicing, drink plenty of water to replenish your lost fluids.
If your blood pressure is stable when controlled by medication, your body should be able to practice the 26 Bikram yoga poses. Always speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. "Yoga Journal" cautions to gradually build up your comfort with inverted poses that position your heart above your head. This body position can increase your blood pressure. An example of an inversion is the separate-leg-stretching pose in which your legs are straight and positioned far apart as you bend forward from the waist to bring your head toward the floor.
Modifying Bikram yoga routines changes the sequence of the workout, but it may help you avoid an increase in your blood pressure. Instead of bringing your head to the floor in the separate leg stretch, fold halfway to the floor, keeping your head and hips in alignment. This will allow you to receive the stretch in your legs without compromising your blood pressure. Use this same guideline for the standing-head-to-knee pose, in which you fold forward over one straight leg and keep your head in line with your hips. Use a block on the floor to support your hands and keep your head elevated.
- Getty Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images