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YOGA AND ITS MANY BENEFITS

Yoga is an ancient practice that relies on various postures, meditation, and controlled breathing. It’s considered to be a great way to relieve psychological and physiological stress.

Among many potential benefits, research has shown that yoga can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, evidence suggest that yoga can lower the following:

  • Cholesterol
  • Cortisol (a stress hormone)
  • LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Resting heart rate

As with the many different forms of swimming (backstroke, breaststroke, etc) there are many different types of yoga as well.

In this article, we don’t focus on any particular type of yoga. Instead, we go over yoga’s effect on blood pressure in general.

HOW YOGA AFFECTS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE*

For adults in general. With respect to your blood pressure at rest:

  • Yoga might lower your systolic blood pressure 2.21 to 9.04 mm Hg more than many other forms of exercise.
  • Yoga might lower your diastolic blood pressure 1.21 to 3.63 mm Hg more than many other forms of exercise.

Scientists believe that these estimates are reasonably accurate.

For adults in general. With respect to your average blood pressure over the course of an entire day:

  • Yoga isn’t better, nor worse, than many other types of exercise at lowering your systolic or diastolic blood pressure.

There’s a lack of high quality data on this specific point. As a result, scientists are uncertain about this finding. Better research is necessary.

SUCCESSFUL TREATMENTS USED IN RESEARCH

Yoga may be good for people with hypertension (high blood pressure)

Researchers studied many styles of yoga and included people of all ages and with many medical conditions.

Below, we provide a general example from research that may help some people lower their blood pressure.

Using the outline below, participants lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure by over 13 mm Hg.

  • Practice integrated yoga for 40 minutes a day for 15 days with an instructor. After 15 days of practice with an instructor, continue practicing at home for 40 minutes a day for 3 months.
  • The integrated style of yoga should include shithilikarana vyayamas (loosening practices) and sakti vikasaka (strengthening practices).
  • These should be followed by yoga asanas and relaxation techniques with devotional songs.

Loosening exercises should last a total of 10 minutes and should include the following:

  • Passive rotation of each toe (both directions)
  • Bending of the toes
  • Passive rotation of the ankle (both directions)
  • Bending of the ankle
  • Ankle rotation (both directions)
  • Bending of the knees
  • Rotation of the knees
  • Rotation of the kneecap
  • Half butterfly
  • Full butterfly
  • Hip rotations (internal and external)
  • Finger loosening
  • Wrist loosening
  • Wrist rotation (both directions)
  • Forward and backward bending of the neck

AN ADDITIONAL SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT METHOD

A woman doing yoga

Practice yoga, with a qualified instructor, for 30 to 45 minutes per day. Do so for at least 5 days per week and for at least 8 weeks straight.

People who did so during research lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

The yoga you practice should include pranayama (breathing exercises) and asanas (postures), specifically the following:

  • Ardha-matsyendrasan
  • Bakasan
  • Bhujangasan
  • Darvangasan
  • Double leg raise
  • Halasan
  • Mahat-yoga pranayama
  • Matsyasan
  • Mukh-bhastrika
  • Nadi shuddhi
  • Navasan
  • Noukasan
  • Pashchimottanasan
  • Pavanmuktasan
  • Savitri pranayama
  • Shalabhasan
  • Shavasan
  • Single leg raise
  • Talasan
  • Trikonasan
  • Utkatasan

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

THE BEST STYLES OF YOGA FOR BLOOD PRESSURE

According to research, the following types of yoga might be most effective at lowering your blood pressure:

  • Integrated yoga
  • Ashtanga yoga
  • Hatha yoga
    • This style of yoga might work best when combined with Omkar meditation

AGE

Overall, yoga appears to lower blood pressure in people of all ages. However, it seems most effective at lowering the systolic blood pressure of people aged 60 and over.

On the flipside, yoga may be most effective at lowering the diastolic blood pressure of people younger than 60.

SIDE EFFECTS

None reported. Injuries are possible.

*EVIDENCE

PEOPLE STUDIED

A wide variety of people were studied. Most were about 15 to 83 years old. This included healthy individuals, those with elevated or high blood pressure (hypertension), and those with other medical conditions.

TYPES OF STUDIES

Randomized, controlled, clinical trials with an active control group (commonly another form of exercise). Numerous different types of yoga were studied.

QUALITY OF EVIDENCE

Researchers believe that the overall quality of evidence backing the general benefits above is low to moderate in nature.

REFERENCES

For references, please click here.