From mitigating stress to strengthening the body, yoga has a profound impact on health. If you have high blood pressure — or if you’re just stressed out — yoga might help support you by bringing those blood pressure levels down.
What causes high blood pressure?
As the heart pumps blood through the body, the force of that blood against vessel walls is your blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, indicates that the heart is working harder than it should to move blood through the body. It can contribute to hardened arteries, kidney disease, stroke or even heart failure.
Blood pressure is caused by many different risk factors, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Consuming too much salt
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Drinking more than one to two alcoholic drinks per day
- Older age
- A family history of high blood pressure
- Adrenal disorders
- Thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
Below are our favorite yoga poses for reducing your blood pressure. They’re sure to help you calm down almost instantly.
Who doesn’t love a pose with the word “easy” in it? This meditative pose helps calm the mind and the body. All you have to do is sit on your mat, cross your legs so the shins are crossed, and the knees are wide. The arches of the feet should meet your calves. Place your hands on your knees and keep your back straight. Breathe naturally and enjoy the pose for as long as you like.
This pose is beneficial to the back, but can also help relieve constipation and bring calmness to the nervous system. To practice child’s pose, sit on your heels. Bend forward and rest your knees on the mat. Bending even more toward the floor, place your forehead on the floor and rest your torso on your knees. Extend your arms forward on the mat, with palms facing up or down. Hold this pose for up to 10 breaths before gently folding back up.
Hero pose helps open the chest, which in turn increases the blood flow throughout the body. This can help normalize your blood pressure. Sit on your knees so that they are together, and the lower legs and outer thighs meet one another. Place your hands on your thighs, sit up straight, keep your abs tight, and gaze gently toward the tip of your nose. Next, place your hands on the mat behind your toes, with your fingers pointing forward. Gently bend your back so that your shoulders tilt back and your gaze comes up to the ceiling. Hold this pose for up to ten breaths before relaxing.
Sometimes referred to as butterfly pose, this asana is perfect for pregnant women, and for those who want to improve blood circulation throughout the body. To practice the pose, sit on your mat with your legs extended forward. Gently draw your feet toward your body so that the soles of the feet meet each other and the knees are wide. Sit up straight as you spread your toes and rotate the tops of the feet toward the ground. Use your hands to open your feet and your elbows to gently stretch your hips. Adjust your feet position — moving them further from the body if needed — to ensure you practice this pose without pain. Hold for up to 10 breaths before gently coming out of the pose.
Legs up the wall
Legs up the wall is so simple that yogis of all levels can do it properly. Simply sit next to the wall, with one shoulder and hip touching it. Rotate down onto your back and raise your legs up the wall so that they’re nearly parallel to it. Lay on your back and let your arms rest beside your body. This pose helps with conditions like insomnia, migraines, and digestive issues. It’s also known for reducing anxiety and helping to lower blood pressure levels.
Lie on your back with your arms gently at your sides and your legs extended. Breathe in, tense the whole body for a moment, and then release the breath with a “haaa” sound. Repeat once more and then lie in this position for as long as it is comfortable. Notice how the earth holds you and use this time for meditation if you like. Corpse pose helps you ground and de-stress, which in turn can help drop your blood pressure.
Avoid these poses if you have high blood pressure
Some poses are designed to be energizing and can be dangerous if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Specifically, avoid poses that place you in a position so that your head is lower than your heart:
- Forearm stand
- Shoulder stand
- Downward facing dog
- Standing forward bends
Additionally, if you practice yoga for its blood pressure-lowering benefits, steer clear of vigorous or hot yoga classes like Bikram. Instead, choose restorative yoga classes and always communicate with your yoga teacher about your health condition. They can offer modifications that will keep you safe.
Do you see your favorite yoga pose on this list?
— Megan Winkler