Jun 10, 2017

Control blood pressure the natural way with yoga

Yoga has been proved to be very effective in checking hypertension. The claims of traditional yogis have been minutely scrutinized and validated through research.

I will start with what has been proved and what not. Some prominent findings are:
  • Yoga-asanas have been found to be reducing overall stress.
  • Certain pranayamas have been found to be especially beneficial in bringing blood pressure to normal levels.
  • Some mudras (= finger patterns) have been found to be very effective.
  • When done unscientifically (especially when done very fast), certain asanas and pranayamas have been seen to raise blood pressure but when the same procedures are done correctly, they have been found beneficial in reducing blood pressure.
  • Too much bending asanas and asanas in which head is lowered below heart level must be done carefully, as these might lead to physical and physiological changes not suitable to many. Some of these might lead to unnaturally high blood flow into brain.
  • Bending of neck by unusual degrees might lead to symptoms akin to high BP, and it might actually  hurt some nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
  • All forms of BP, including genetic, has been seen to be calming down with regular practice of specific yoga procedures.
  • Mudras act like acupressure. Interestingly, in this study, just squeezing the middle finger from bottom to tip is found to reduce blood pressure by a good degree. 
  • Yoga does not work like medicine. It does not force the body to block certain biochemical or neuro-chemical reactions or dilate blood vessels temporarily or fool certain organs to behave in a different way. It helps in bringing back the abnormal body-chemistry to normal. So, it is more effective as part of lifestyle change.
  • It is not advisable to immediately stop BP medicine when feeling good. Sometimes the high BP is sticky but joining a yoga class has a placebo effect and people feel good without enough good effect on the system. 
Now, let's come to the yoga exercises that control BP.

Shavasana (= dead-body pose)

This is daddy of all yoga-asanas. You just lie down on a rug, with face up. Relax your body to the extent that you can feel the breath. Your head, arms and legs find their relaxed positions as if you were dead. Take breath naturally. Keep your mind free from worries. If you are unable to stop your mind from thinking, let it think that you are getting healed; healed because God (or whatever you believe to be your supreme benefactor) wishes it that way. Lying in shavasana for 3-5 minutes a day relieves tension and brings the blood pressure back to normal. But it alone may not cure you of high BP if you do not do other yogic exercises and follow a healthy lifestyle.

Anulom-vilom pranayama (taking breath alternatively from the two nostrils, one at a time)

This is a simple pranayama, described here in more details.

Apan Vayu mudra 

To do this mudra, keep your palm straight and open, bend the first finger (= index finger) to that it presses the base of thumb, keep the little finger straight, press the thumb with the other (2nd and 3rd) fingers.

Practise this mudra for a total of about 15 minutes in a day with both hands. This mudra is supposed to be beneficial to the heart in many other ways.