Which yoga poses should you avoid when you have high blood pressure? Here are 15 common poses that are actually a threat to your health than they are beneficial.
If you love yoga and are dealing with high blood pressure, you are not alone. I say this to encourage you.
Yoga is a great way of getting into shape and lowering your blood pressure. However, there are a number of yoga poses you should avoid when struggling with hypertension.
Continue reading this article to find out more.
Benefits of Yoga
There are several amazing benefits of yoga. The practice is therapeutic, and can help reduce stress levels and tension naturally. These two factors are the most significant causes of blood pressure.
If you want to practice yoga, you have to stick to poses that would help to lower your blood pressure. These poses include:
i) Those that don’t get the legs higher than the heart
ii) Those that don’t get the heart more elevated than the head
There are also specific poses that require the body to be inverted or position your head right below the heart. These poses should raise an immediate reg flag for those struggling with hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure.
Why should you avoid certain poses and what is their connection to blood pressure? You’ll have all the answers to your questions by the end of reading this article.
Moreover, there are several modifications of some of these yoga poses. Watch how you feel when practicing the modified yoga poses and stop immediately if you don’t feel too well.
Yoga Poses to Avoid With High Blood Pressure
Some of the yoga poses you’ll read about below are quite contradictory to management of high blood pressure. Nobody would want to practice such poses while dealing with high blood pressure.
However, since I’m not a medical practitioner, consult your doctor before going with the opinions I’ve presented below.
So, which yoga poses should you avoid when you have hypertension? Here is the list.
Headstands typically force the legs above the head, and the heart above the head as well. The pose is not ideal for individuals dealing with high blood pressure.
When suffering from hypertension, you should always be upright to allow blood to flow easily through the veins. If you have to do headstands, be careful and monitor your blood pressure.
The forearm stand is almost similar to the headstand since you have to be on the same position. Being on your forearms tends to elevate the body but not enough to prevent blood pressure since you will still be in an upside-down position.
Sometimes, the forearm stand can be quite a challenging pose. You can somehow become unsteady when trying to hold all the body weight up in the air. The result? A lot of pressure on the body that can, in turn, increase blood pressure level.
Plow and Shoulder Stand Pose
The plow and shoulder stand pose are not recommended if you have hypertension. This is because the pose would require you to be in an inverted position. The posture would instantly put the body in one of the most compromising positions.
When doing shoulder stands, you have to hold yourself upright from lying down. The yoga pose, additionally, forces the legs over the head, leaving the body unsupported when balancing in the air.
The handstand is an extremely rigorous inverted pose. The pose puts the body in an upside-down position and exerts tremendous pressure on the shoulders and the entire upper body. When doing the pose, the legs stay elevated in the air completely.
Keeping the legs elevated is dangerous if you have high blood pressure. Handstands are often rough on the wrists, if you don’t maintain the correct posture. When you want to keep your blood pressure level low, this pose is not recommended.
Downward Facing Dog
When you have hypertension, you should avoid the downward dog position at all cost because of the way the body will be positioned. The pose gets the body in an upside-down position, and the head right below the heart. This pose can be dangerous if you are dealing with high blood pressure.
You can modify the downward dog position by doing it against the wall to keep the entire body at an even length. However, if you are struggling with high blood pressure, it’s highly recommended that you stick to basic yoga poses, which are typically the beginner’s routine. These routines usually don’t include complicated positions.
Another alternative is to practice yoga routines meant for older adults. Check out yoga DVDs for beginners over 50 for different methods that are equally easy-to-do.
Standing Forward Bend
When doing the standing forward bend, the body is usually folded in half, right below the center. If you stand upright and bend the body directly over the heart, in most cases, you’ll be putting yourself in danger. This is because the blood will immediately rush to the head, which is away from the heart.
However, you can modify this pose by sitting down and bending forward. Always keep the head in an upright position as this helps blood flow through the whole body easily.
The backbend puts exception tension on the entire body. Think about it; you bend your whole body backward and need to support all the weight on the hands. Backbends usually put the whole body under intense pressure, especially if you haven’t prepared well for them.
A wheel pose is an advanced backbend pose. The pose takes a lot of strength and also stretches the chest. This makes it quite difficult to breathe, unless you are conversant with the 80/20 breathing technique. It’s, therefore, a risky pose for individuals with high blood pressure.
Instead of doing the wheel pose, you can try the supported bridge pose with a block to achieve similar benefits.
The camel pose isn’t intense like the wheel pose. However, you will need to warm-up thoroughly to comfortably come into the backbend. Moreover, you can also find it quite difficult to breathe properly when in this position.
However, you still can do the half-camel pose with a slight tilt backward on the torso area, and support the lower back using your hands.
The bow pose requires you to lay on your stomach and pull the torso back towards your legs, and lift the legs off the ground. The pose is almost similar to the wheel pose. However, in this case, you are on your stomach and the arms are reaching the back instead of supporting the entire body weight.
The bow pose would also count as an advanced backbend, considering it’s quite difficult to breathe when you are in this pose. It also requires some decent flexibility levels. It’s advisable to avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure.
Instead of the bow pose, try the locust pose, which is almost similar but not as intense.
The jackknife is an advanced boat pose. The boat pose is safe even for individuals dealing with high blood pressure. However, the jackknife pose involves lifting the legs vertically and bringing the torso closer to the thighs. You will find a lot of trouble breathing in this pose.
Feet Up the Wall
Consult your doctor before practicing on this pose. Although the pose is quite relaxing, the body is often inverted and the legs are at an angle of 90 degrees. Doing the pose can increase your blood pressure.
If you have hypertension, try practicing the supported fish pose version. Placing a block right under the shoulders would make the pose a little intense, and also help to relax the feet instead of pointing them. As a result, you can breathe easily while still getting a great backbend to increase the flexibility to your spine.
Doing the bridge pose without a block is quite risky since it requires a lot of back strength. Besides, it also puts some pressure on the heart .
To do the bridge pose, try placing a block at the tailbone. Doing this will make the pose feel a lot more comfortable. If it doesn’t, adjust it to get all the benefits without straining.
It’s not recommended to do the bow pose, as earlier mentioned. If you have high blood pressure and want to do this pose, don’t hold it for far too long. Instead breathe, relax, and repeat this several times.
How to Use Meditation and Yoga for Hypertension by Baba Ramdev
Baba Ramdev is a well-known Ayurveda and yogi guru in India. One of the popular lessons he offers focuses on permanently curing high blood pressure in less than a month. He recommends using a combination of some yoga techniques and medication as well.
The content is his video is excellent, but the quality isn’t perfect since it was translated into English.
Why Avoid Certain Yoga Poses When You Have High Blood Pressure
Generally, if you have hypertension, avoid inverted yoga poses or those that have the head below the heart. When your body is inverted, blood tends to go towards the head and this increases blood pressure and can lead to a stroke.
Furthermore, blood needs to reach the legs even when you are in an upside-down position. The heart, therefore, would need to work harder pumping blood towards the lower extremities and legs since gravity won’t be helping at that time.
When the body is inverted, the abdominal organs like the intestines, liver, and stomach tend to press on the diaphragm. This makes breathing harder, and the heart to work harder.
You should also avoid advanced backbends such as the wheel pose. Backbends usually require too much strength. Sometimes, when the torso bends backward, it stretches the chest and makes breathing difficult. The pose also strains the heart, and can let insufficient oxygen exchanged with carbon dioxide into the circulatory system.
High blood pressure isn’t a prison sentence. Instead, it’s a stepping stone to bettering yourself. Health issues sometimes arise only to remind us of the essential things in life. Practicing yoga can help to reduce blood pressure. However, there are certain yoga poses you should avoid.
Continue monitoring yourself to find out the poses that you can comfortably do. However, avoid the poses mentioned in this article if you have high blood pressure. This is because of the position of the body during the poses.
In the above poses, the body takes an inverted position, the legs are positioned higher than the heart, and the head lower than the heart. Inverted poses additionally force blood to the head and away from the heart, which should be a significant concern to anyone struggling with hypertension.
Breathing and holding the breath are essential components of yoga. When someone has high blood pressure, their airways should never be blocked or constricted in any way. When you hold your breath, blood pressure tends to increase instantly.
Yoga is an ideal natural remedy for high blood pressure. However, you need to be conversant with the poses you can and can’t do.
Best Yoga Poses for High Blood Pressure
The six yoga poses below have been found to help reduce high blood pressure, as shown in the video below:
The poses include:
- Mountain Pose
- Half Spinal Twist
- Corpse Pose
- Diamond Pose
- Cow Head Pose
- Tree Pose
Many studies indicate a reduction in blood pressure for individuals with hypertension that regularly practice yoga.
Before you start your yoga practice, get an appropriate sports bra that fits perfectly well. For example, if you are full-figured, you should get the best sports bras for large breasts. The bra should be made of breathable fabric, be super comfortable, and supportive. Sports bras come in a range of colors and designs.
Caution When Practicing Yoga With Hypertension
In some situations, you need to be careful when practicing yoga. First, avoid hot or Bikram yoga, due to the high degree of heat involved. The heat creates electrolyte imbalance that could make the heart to overwork.
Secondly, avoid yoga poses that would put you in a position which counteracts with blood pressure levels.
You can practice yoga even if you have hypertension. The benefits of the exercise outweigh the risks. However, remember the inverted positions aren’t safe due to the position of the legs, heart, and head.
High blood pressure requires tender, love, and care, as well. You can visit a yoga therapist to design your yoga sequences.