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Hypertension and Yoga
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Hypertension and Yoga

Introduction

Hypertension, or what is commonly known as High Blood Pressure, refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries. This occurs when the pressure in the system gets high enough to cause trouble in the system. Blood pressure is abnormally high when it reached 140/90, however, a person should take several readings to diagnose Hypertension.

This high pressure may also cause damage to other systems, that is why it is also associated with other diseases like stroke, heart attack, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and may also lead to death. There are basically two types of High Blood Pressure: primary or essential and secondary.

Primary Hypertension patients usually do not experience any specific symptoms and are most commonly caused by stress and strain. Other causes include emotional disturbance, heredity, race, climatic condition, obesity, smoking and alcohol intake.

On the other hand, Secondary Hypertension may be attributed to kidney infection, malfunctioning of the Endocrine Gland, arterial problems like arteriosclerosis, and even pregnancy.

Hypertension may be without any noticeable symptoms and if not detected at its early stage may cause arterial cardiac and renal damage. It is also known as the silent killer since it is often diagnosed when it has already reached a fixed stage. However, people with Hypertension will most likely experience some mild and pounding headache, giddiness, hazy vision, ringing in the ears, and disturbed kidney functioning. If this continues, it may lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or paralysis.

Lifestyle management, such as Yoga lifestyle, offers best help in treating and preventing Hypertension. Yoga practice unites the mind and body activities, it also offers stress management techniques which proved essential in managing Hypertension.

Observed Effects of Yoga on Blood Pressure

  1. Regular practice of Yoga reduces blood pressure to the tune of 10 to 15 mm / Hg (observed facts, good evidence exists to support this observation)
  2. Yoga can reduce weight loss which in turn reduces blood pressure.
  3. Regular Yoga performers are less likely to suffer from Hypertension than their age and sex matched counterparts. This result has been studied and proven at our center.
  4. The night ‘dip’ of blood pressure a phenomenon seen in normal people and which can be absent in some hypertensive is usually restored as observed at our center.
  5. A casual Shavasana and Omkar chanting each can reduce the B.P. by about 10 – 15 mm / Hg even in an untrained person who may not practice Yoga regularly.

Probable mechanism achieved by practicing yoga which relieves Hypertension could be as follows:

  1. Blood pressure increases by the sustained activation of ‘Flight & Fight’ response of the body. Yoga effectively switches off the response and brings adrenaline levels down, thus reducing blood pressure. This postulate can be backed by good amounts of evidences.
  2. The chronic stress induced sustained muscular contraction reduces lumen diameter of blood vessels in the muscles. It in turn increases blood pressure (just as compressing a water pipe increases force of water flow). Stretching of muscles and relaxing the same as done in Yogic exercise reverts this effect.
  3. Sustained muscular contraction sends hostile signals to the brain, alerting it to impending danger. This does secrete stress hormones and neurotransmitters associated with stress and high B.P. This possibly reverted by constant practice of Yoga.
  4. Platelet agreeability and stickiness of blood increases inappropriately, tend to produce a ‘hypercoagulable’ state of blood, and increase blood pressure in turn. It is proven during preliminary studies, that regular practice of Yoga reduces Platelet aggregation.
  5. Certain postures in Yoga do offer controlled pressure on kidneys and the adrenals thereby possibly regulating blood supply to these vital organs which mainly regulate B.P. through secretions of rennin, angiotensin, adrenalin etc.
  6. Regular Yoga may reduce stress hormone ‘aldosterone’ which is a potent vasoconstrictor (which contracts blood vessels thus increasing B.P.). Preliminary evidences have noted this fact.
  7. Preliminary studies also point out to the fact that regular Yoga practice may reduce ‘Vasopressin’ another stress hormone secreted by pituitary gland in the brain. Vasopressin increases B.P. by vascular contraction.
  8. The medulla oblongata in the brain has the respiratory center and the vasomotor centre (which regulates the B.P.) side to side. Fast breathing in stressful situations tends to overspill the electric signals over vasomotor centre thus increasing B.P. Yoga and Pranayama in turn regulate breathing and hence may reduce the signal overspill from respiratory center, thus reducing B.P.

Yoga Poses for Hypertension

The following are the poses a person may follow to help in managing Hypertension:

 

  • Easy Pose: This Yoga Pose straightens the spine, slow the metabolism, relaxes the body and still the mind. It also prepares the body for the different asanas.
  • Shoulder Stretch: It loosens the shoulders and restores lost movement to the whole upper body.
  • Standing Spread Leg Forward Bend Pose
  • Cat Pose: It coordinates movement and breath and increases the flexibility of the spine, back and the pelvis. It also helps in increasing blood circulation towards the kidneys which helps in cleansing the wastes increasing the blood supply.
  • Half Spinal Twist: This Yoga Pose laterally twists and tones the spinal nerves, the ligaments, tones the abdominal muscles and refreshes the lungs
  • Wind Relieving Pose: This pose removes excess gas from the stomach, the intestines and the lungs. It also tones and stretches the lower back. When a person perform the Rocking Wind Relieving Pose, he also removes the stiffness of the spine, back muscles and ligaments.
  • Double Leg Raise Pose: This pose strengthens abdominal and lower back muscles. It is also used to trim the waist and thighs.
  • Anuloma Viloma Breathing Technique: The technique should be practiced for three to ten minutes to restore and equalize the flow of prana in the body.

Remember

YOGA IS NOT THE SOLE TREATMENT FOR HYPERTENSION, THUS SEEK THE DOCTOR'S SUPERVISION BEFORE a person START PRACTICING..

 

 
  
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