Yoga to Lower Blood Pressure and Restore Balance

Yoga is potentially so efficacious for high blood pressure as it has been shown in multiple studies to stimulate parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system activity and to down-regulate sympathetic (fight or flight) arousal.

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May 26, 2016
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High blood pressure (hypertension) describes when your blood pressure is regularly higher than recommended healthy levels. People often do not realise that they have high blood pressure as it rarely causes any obvious symptoms. However, it's one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke and is not something, therefore, to be taken lightly.

Stress and the way we respond to it can have a huge impact on our heart rate and blood pressure. This linked article explores how our stress response can up-regulate the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system.. When the sympathetic nervous system is up-regulated in such a way, it increases cortisol and adrenaline in the blood stream. This in turn increases our heart rate and constricts our blood vessels, which, in turn, increases our blood pressure to potentially health-compromising levels.

Yoga is potentially so efficacious for high blood pressure as it has been shown in multiple studies to stimulate parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system activity and to down-regulate sympathetic (fight or flight) arousal. A growing body of research is pointing to yoga's incredible benefits for stress within which the nervous system is strongly implicated alongside decreasing oxidative stress.

Calming yoga practices would appear to be the most beneficial for high blood pressure given their stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Yin or a gentle hatha class are some examples with particularly useful pranayama practices including nadi sodhanan (alternate nostril breathing) and ujjayi ('ocean') breathing.

Go to the profile of Heather Mason

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS

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