yoga teacher trainingBy Gopi Rao

The most common precaution for students in our classes is high blood pressure (HBP).  To mention this precaution before class starts is a wise practice.  During the course of a yoga teacher training this precaution should be analyzed.  When should we be concerned?  Is there a list of priorities concerning HBP.

What a yoga instructor should know about HBP:

1. Unregulated HBP plus an inversions puts a student at risk of a stroke.

2. Students want to do headstands and they don’t see the risk.

3. Does the student have his or her doctor’s blessing?

4. Never play at being a doctor of medicine unless you are one.

5. Yoga teachers should know all the risks.

6. Concerning inversions: There are risks for anyone with HBP.

7. If you teach or have HBP, you should do more research.

Students who suffer from high blood pressure can benefit from gentle yoga practice. Any student can benefit from the release of pressure in the body brought on by regular meditation. While the students must use caution and practice slow motions during practice, there are plenty of poses that can help treat high blood pressure.

The more strain the muscles are under during a yoga class, the higher the corresponding blood pressure will be. So those with high blood pressure should shy away from hot, power, vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga that raise the a student’s heart rate. Kundalini yoga and dynamic pranayama can also affect a person’s blood pressure with the rapid breathing.

Sometimes high blood pressure is caused by malfunctioning kidneys or is paired with diabetes. If that is the case, you can guide the student to poses that massage the kidneys and promote healing. Other students are suffering from heart related problems, while others can not pinpoint a reason for their high blood pressure. Twists and stretching poses are especially effective to cleanse the endocrine system and to aid the heart. If there is no identified cause, the condition is referred to as “hypertension.”


Many times students who are on medication for blood pressure ask if they can or should do inversions including shoulder stands or head stands. While each person is different, currently doctors encourage students taking medication to exercise regularly. If your student feels light headed or has a racing heartbeat, have them to lie in shavasana immediately until the feeling goes away.

A gentler inversion, Downward Facing Dog, does not put as much pressure on the head, and if your student suffers from high pressure that is not yet managed by medication, they should use the pose with caution. Those currently on medication should find the pose to be a comfortable one.

Meditation and Blood Pressure

Mental strain is often linked to higher blood pressure. While medical science can control the physical symptoms, the meditative nature of yoga can treat the mental stresses that remain.

If your student finds even the gentlest poses to be too taxing, assure her that meditation will help her lower the mental aspect that is contributing to her high blood pressure and it will complement the medication she is taking.

By focusing on meditation and twisting poses, a student can successfully use yoga to treat high blood pressure. Yoga provides an ideal way to alleviate the pressure in the mind and body while giving students a safe form of exercises.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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