Yoga to relieve hypertension
Aimee Christine Hughes, ND
Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can help high blood pressure or hypertension, as well as moderating heart rate and encouraging good circulation.
Studies have shown that regular yoga practice moderates heart rate, encourages good circulation, calms the mind, lowers blood pressure, and helps the body–and mind–find peace and stillness.
Certain asanas (poses) have a cooling or calming effect on the body that help to slow metabolism and reduce hypertension. Postures requiring prolonged breathing patterns can actually lower the body’s temperature. Passive poses (inverted ones, especially) help foster a state of relaxation, absolutely necessary for increased health and longevity.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Tune into your breath, becoming aware of the steady flow through your nostrils. Whenever your mind wanders, simply bring your awareness back to the breath.
Begin with five minutes daily of this meditation practice; then gradually lengthen for as long as you have time for.
The breath is your mind’s stillness anchor. By gradually retraining your mind to become still and focused on something you choose, such as your breath, you release tension from the surface mind, facilitating physical and mental ease.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your legs actively against the floor through your heels.
Press through your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of your sternum toward the ceiling to sit up tall.
Inhale, and keeping the front of the torso long, lean forward from the hip joints. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis.
If possible, grasp the sides of your feet with your hands, arms straight. If this isn't possible, loop a strap around your feet, holding the strap firmly.
If you are holding your feet, bend your elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor. If holding the strap, lighten your grip and move your hands forward along the strap.
With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front of your torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend.
Stay in the pose for one to three minutes.
To come up, lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift up the torso, pulling your tailbone down and into your pelvis.
Position yourself near a wall, and curl up into a ball, feet facing the wall.
Roll onto your back while straightening your legs up the wall. Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place.
Release the weight of your belly and hips deeply into your torso, toward the back of the pelvis. Close your eyes softly.
Move slightly away from the wall if you feel a strain in your legs or back. Breathe gently and deeply here for five to 10 minutes.
Pose of the Moon
(also known as pose of the child)
Kneeling on the ground, inhale slowly, while raising your arms. As you exhale, bend forward and let your belly rest on your thighs, arms out in front of you. If you need to, open your thighs enough to create a space for your torso. Work toward laying your forehead on the ground.
Stay here, breathing deeply for as long as is comfortable, up to 20 minutes. To come out of the pose, inhale while lifting your arms and slowly straightening your spine.
While lying on your back, reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor. Rock slightly from side to side and broaden the back, ribs, and shoulder blades away from the spine.
Release the arms to the floor, palms up, angled evenly away from the body. Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades. Rest the backs of your hands on the floor.
Close your eyes softly. Relax the muscles in your face, softening the skin of the forehead, especially around the bridge of the nose between the eyebrows.
Stay in the pose for five to 15 minutes.