By Amruta Kulkarni
Yoga students often ask why the headstand is contraindicated for anyone who has high blood pressure. As a Yoga teacher, you realize that gravity has much to do with the flow of blood and fluids throughout the body.
Turning upside down, in the headstand, reverses the blood pressure figures seen in standing in a straight forward fashion. Blood pressure will remain at 120/80 at heart level, at least if you are not under too much stress, but the pressure in the arm will rise to about 140/100 mm Hg because the arm is alongside the head and below the heart instead of level with it.
We can calculate that blood pressure will only be about 40/0 mm HG in the feet, with the diastolic blood pressure dropping to zero, and with the systolic blood pressure of 40 mm Hg barely sufficing to perfuse the capillaries. Even then it is marginal, which is why your feet may tingle if you remain in headstand for too long.
We can calculate that blood pressure at the top of the head increases from 100/60 mm Hg in a standing position to 150/110 mm Hg in the headstand, or even higher if you are not confident of the posture. Due to this, the headstand is contraindicated for anyone who has high blood pressure for the simplest of reasons, the posture can increase blood pressure in the brain to dangerous levels, perhaps well above 150/110 mm Hg.
Conservative medical opinion also recommends that you avoid the headstand even if high blood pressure is brought to a normal level with medication. Medical opinions will differ from one physician to another, but all Yoga teachers should be on the side of extreme caution.
© Copyright 2010 – Amruta Kulkarni / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Amruta Kulkarni is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.
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