Yoga Students with High Blood Pressure

Friday, September 30th, 2011

become a yoga teacherBy Sangeetha Saran

Yoga is great for reducing stress, and this makes it a wonderful practice for individuals with high blood pressure. Teaching yoga students with high blood pressure can be very worthwhile, but these students have a few special needs that should be taken into consideration.

High blood pressure is often accompanied by a hardening of the arteries. The arteries are hardened by a build up of plaque which accumulates over time. As the plaque increases, the arteries become more and more narrow, making it harder for blood to flow properly. In response, the heart must work much harder in order to maintain proper blood circulation throughout the body, and this creates a higher than normal resting blood pressure.

If dislodged, arterial plaque can also completely block other smaller arteries, leading to stroke or aneurysm. In addition, the constant strain of increased blood pressure wears down the delicate cardiovascular tissues long before their time. The challenge for those with high blood pressure is to find an effective exercise regimen that doesn’t inflame or increase these underlying issues in the body.

Because of this, it is best to avoid most inversions when teaching these students. Mild inversions such as Downward Facing Dog are usually fine, but more extreme inversions such as Shoulderstand should be avoided entirely. Inversions encourage a rapid increase in blood flow and pressure to the cranial region, and this could prove dangerous for those with higher blood pressure.

Teaching these yoga students can be made much easier by simply remaining mindful of the heart itself. If the heart is higher than the head or the legs higher than the heart during any given pose, that pose should be avoided entirely.

The teaching style for those with high blood pressure should be calm and relaxed, with a focus on restoration and peace. As long as inversions are avoided, those with high blood pressure can safely participate in all aspects of a typical yoga class. Hip openers and leg stretches are excellent for these students, since they increase overall flexibility and provide a challenge without significantly increasing heart rate. Seated Forward Bend, Easy Pose, Corpse Pose, Reclining Big Toe Pose and Head-to-Knee Forward Bend are just a few examples of poses that are excellent for students with high blood pressure.

Students that are fortunate enough to have a good yoga teacher to work with will reap the benefits of yoga practice, including decreased levels of stress and increased levels of strength and flexibility. This leads to a much higher quality of life overall.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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