In this post, we take a look at the effects of hypertension on the body and mind, and how to manage them through a well-curated yoga routine, designed to reduce high blood pressure.
Hypertension by numbers in the modern world
The modern world is a stressful place, and the numbers certainly seem to back this up, with a 2018 survey finding that 9 in 10 Indians suffer from stress. These elevated levels of stress and anxiety are not only having an impact on our mental health, but our physical health as well. Stress can significantly raise our blood pressure, leading to hypertension, and consequently, a number of other serious health problems.
Studies on hypertension have thrown up some alarming statistics, with the WHO estimating that of the 1.13 billion people worldwide who suffer from it, fewer than 1 in 5 people have it under control.
One of the biggest challenges when looking for ways to control high blood pressure, is that it may not always display outward symptoms, though there are a few we will look at shortly. All the same, it significantly raises the risk of various health complications in the long term, ranging from coronary artery disease to kidney failure and stroke. This makes it imperative for us to take any measures we can and explore different ways to control high blood pressure, to prevent complications from developing.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
There are certain symptoms people can keep an eye out for, which may indicate that they are in a hypertensive state. These may include the following:
- Frequent painful headaches
- Flushing – i.e, a rush of blood to the face, or other parts of the body, causing them to turn red
- A feeling of dizziness
- Blood in the urine
- Occasional pain in the chest
This wide variation in symptoms means that a system of prevention for high blood pressure is an important thing to have as a part of any wellness routine. Regular, well-regulated exercise to lower blood pressure, particularly yoga, can do wonders to stave off the onset of symptoms, and help you live a much healthier and more comfortable life.
Yoga to Reduce High Blood Pressure: Combating the Symptoms
Along with healthier diets, doctors often prescribe exercise as an effective way to counteract the adverse effects of high blood pressure, as regular physical activity is known to be immensely beneficial to our cardiovascular system. Yoga can prove to be an especially effective mode of prevention for high blood pressure, and useful supplement most treatment plans, and a carefully curated routine of yoga to reduce high blood pressure can provide a number of benefits for people with hypertension, without placing undue physical strain on their bodies.
A lack of balance in diets, coupled with modern sedentary lifestyles can be significant contributing factors to obesity and high levels of stress. Sitting at desk jobs for long periods during the day has shown to not only affect our muscular strength, but its impact can run deeper and play havoc with the circulatory system as well.
Over time, both these factors cause the walls of our arteries to narrow and harden, and over time, this leads to sustained high blood pressure, causing severe damage to the vascular and arterial networks, while also placing tremendous strain on the heart. Studies have shown that yoga to reduce high blood pressure, when structured properly, can help improve the elasticity of the arteries, and thus enhance overall circulation in the body.
Exercise to lower blood pressure overall
Our blood exerts a certain amount of pressure as it circulates within the body. The pressure on the arterial walls is known as “systolic pressure”, and the force exerted between consecutive heartbeats is known as “diastolic pressure”.
As hypertension causes the walls of arteries to narrow and harden, this makes it harder for the blood to flow easily through the arterial chambers. As a result, the heart pumps more vigorously to push the blood through, and this ultimately causes a significant increase in both pressures, and can further lead to a number of different health complications. Encouragingly, in-depth studies have found that yoga can contribute towards measurably reducing them both.
Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to control high blood pressure, and yoga in particular can provide a gentle and and less vigorous alternative to help patients keep their symptoms of blood pressure in check.
Breathing exercises to reduce stress levels
We live in a fast-paced, high-tension world today, and levels of stress among working professionals are higher than ever before. Over a sustained period of time, these high levels of stress contribute majorly to the development of hypertension, and can also become major drivers of a number of other health problems.
Supplementing a routine of yoga to reduce high blood pressure with gentle breathing exercises can go a long way towards helping to combat the effects of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that rhythmic breathing patterns can help to reduce the levels of cortisol – a stress hormone – in the body, which in turn alleviates the symptoms of stress, leading to a drop in blood pressure levels overall.
Moderating the body’s stress responses
Guided meditations can also have a positive effect on blood pressure. Techniques such as visualization train the mind to focus on positive, soothing imagery, and this can help to induce a calmer state of mind. Lower stress levels lead to a drop in the heart rate, and an overall improvement in the moderation of the body’s stress responses.
With the hectic world we live in today, levels of stress and anxiety are very much on the rise. This can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health, by manifesting in illnesses like hypertension which pose a silent, but very real threat. By making physical activities a part of our daily routine, or by adopting a specifically-designed yoga for high blood pressure routine, we can take concrete steps towards lowering our risk of various harmful illnesses, and ensure a healthier and happier life overall.