This gentle yoga routine can help decrease stress, lower your heart rate and reduce high blood pressure.
Hypertension – also known as high blood pressure – is one of the most prevalent conditions in the US. In 2013, almost 1,000 people per day died of high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. (1)
Stress is one of the main contributing factors to high blood pressure, so it’s no wonder Americans have such a high incidence rate! When we find ourselves in a state of stress, our body turns on the sympathetic nervous system and goes into “fight or flight.” This primal response increases adrenaline and various hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine, spikes blood pressure, and decreases other vital systems like digestion.
Want to train your brain to be happier and healthier?
Click here to receive our FREE 7-Day Meditation Challenge!
How Yoga Can Help
Mind-body therapies like yoga and meditation can help naturally regulate breathing. Gentle physical activity helps practitioners to lose weight, decrease mental stress, increase the release of happy hormones like serotonin and endorphins, and foster feelings of empowerment and control over their situation. (2)
Relaxing yoga poses like forward folds, supported postures, and gentle inversions help to release muscular tension, bringing the body and mind out of the sympathetic state and into the “rest and digest” parasympathetic response.
Practicing Yoga Safely With High Blood Pressure
- Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Stay away from vigorous yoga postures and breathing practices when first starting out. Advanced inversions like a headstand and shoulder stand can be very dangerous for those with high blood pressure since these poses drastically reverse blood flow by taking the heart directly above the head. Heating breathing practices like Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Breath are also dangerous because they increase blood pressure temporarily.
- Start slowly and always listen to your body.
Do these seven restorative yoga poses to decrease your high blood pressure. All you need is a long pillow or bolster, a blanket, and a yoga block.
7 Yoga Stretches That Reduce High Blood Pressure
Easy Pose with Meditative Ujjayi Breathing | 3 min
Sit comfortably as you practice Ujjayi breathing to instantly calm your body and mind. (3)
- To begin, find a comfortable seat on the edge of a yoga block. Cross your legs and place your palms facing down on your thighs.
- Seal your lips and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, right behind your teeth. You should feel a slight constriction in the back of your throat.
- Begin to breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your breathing should feel textured, and your exhales should sound like an ocean wave.
- Close your eyes and continue this slow, deep breathing in and out through your nose for three minutes.
Baddha Konasana | 2 min
This relaxing yoga pose relieves tension in the hips to help unleash pent-up stress and emotion. It is also a very cooling, restorative pose that helps to calm the mind and lower your heart rate.
- Start seated on your mat.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to fall outwards to a butterfly position.
- Inhale to sit up tall and lengthen your spine. Then, take an exhale as you walk your hands forward and fold over your thighs.
- Hold for two minutes, then slowly sit back up on an inhale.
Seated Supported Forward Fold | 3 min
This supported posture helps to quickly calm the body and mind, bringing you into a parasympathetic state.
- Begin seated on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Place your bolster or long pillow lengthwise over your legs. Stack two if your hamstrings are tight.
- Gently fold your torso over the bolster so that your belly and chest are completely supported. Place a block or rolled-up blanket underneath your forehead so that the back of your neck is long. Place your palms on the floor next to your legs.
- Close your eyes and focus on breathing slowly. Hold for 3 minutes.
Supported Child’s Pose | 3 min
This pose helps to foster feelings of safety and security while bringing your mind into a deep relaxation.
- Begin with a long pillow off to one side. Kneel down with your knees out wide to the edges of your mat. Bring your big toes to touch and sit your hips back onto your heels.
- Place the long pillow vertically up and down the mat with one end between your thighs.
- Walk your hands forward to lower your chest and one cheek onto the pillow. Let your forearms rest on the mat and close your eyes.
- Hold for 3 minutes, switching to the other cheek halfway through.
Downward Facing Dog | 5-8 breaths
This pose gently reverses blood flow to help improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
- Start in a push-up position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders. Lift your heels high and firm up your quads and belly. Spread your fingers wide and press down through your knuckles to root down.
- Take an exhale to lift your hips up towards the sky. Keep a slight bend in your knees and press your chest back towards your thighs, making an upside-down V-shape with your body.
- Pull your navel in towards your spine and reach your tailbone up. Keep your back straight and let your heels lower towards the ground. You can always keep a bend in your knees if you need to in order to keep your back straight.
- Hold for 5-8 slow Ujjayi breaths.
Supported Bridge | 2 min
This pose brings the body into a parasympathetic state and also helps to reverse blood flow, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure.
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Keep a block off to one side.
- Reach your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down. Keep your feet hip-width distance and walk them towards your glutes so that your knees are stacked over your ankles.
- Press your palms into the ground as you inhale and lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Grab your block and slide it underneath your sacrum, then lower your hips to rest down onto the block.
- Straighten your legs out down the mat, letting your toes fall out wide. Place your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax for 2 minutes.
Tip: If this feels too intense on your lower back, keep your knees bent with your feet on the ground.
Supported Savasana | 5 min
Savasana – also known as Corpse Pose – allows your body and mind to completely relax and come into a parasympathetic state.
- Begin by placing a half rolled-up blanket at the top of your mat. The unrolled part of the blanket should be at the very top of your mat. Then, sit up on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Slide a block underneath each knee to support your lower back.
- Next, place your hands behind you and lower yourself down onto your back. The rolled up part of the blanket should support your neck and the rest of the blanket should support the back of your head.
- Reach your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, find a natural breath and allow your mind and body to relax. Hold this pose for 5 minutes.
(Your Next Workout: 5 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress)