Yoga has been recognized for some time as being effective in reducing high blood pressure, particularly the diastolic (lower) number, which is the most crucial. You can experience the relaxing effects of Yoga by committing to a short daily routine of breathing, exercise, and meditation.
Yoga techniques improve your body’s strength and flexibility, teach you how to relax mentally and physically, and show you how to better manage stress reactions such as muscle tension (most commonly in the face, stomach, neck, shoulders, and breath), rapid heart rate, constricted breathing, and anxiety.
The fastest and most effective way to reduce reaction to stress is to change your breath, and an immediate way to improve your breathing is to improve your posture. In Yoga, you learn to strengthen your back and stomach muscles so that you can sit and stand straighter; this releases pressure on your heart and lungs and allows you to breathe easier.
Yoga breathing exercises teach you how to breathe more deeply and rhythmically; this has many effects, both physical and mental. Your respiratory muscles become stronger, and more oxygen reaches your bloodstream. Regular practice of breathing exercises will give you greater concentration, willpower, and steadiness. You’ll feel calmer, too, as you breathe, because your mind can’t think about upsetting things when it is focused on the breath. You can learn to use the breathing techniques whenever you feel stressed, fatigued, or anxious for immediate relief.
Yoga exercise benefits your entire circulatory system, beginning with the production of blood, which takes place in the marrow of the long bones in the thighs. Improving circulation in the legs with daily Yoga stretching exercises helps to rejuvenate the blood. Yoga exercises stretch the body's major blood vessels, keeping them free-flowing and elastic; Yoga oxygenates the blood and pushes fresh nutrients to all peripheral vessels and capillaries. Improved circulation means that your brain will receive more oxygen, improving alertness, memory, and mood; vital organs receive a steady supply of the nutrients they need for optimal functioning.
Yoga relaxation and meditation training teach you how to relax at will, allowing your body to release muscle tension almost as it occurs. Meditation training shows you how to access your inner source of strength and personal power, creating a support system that builds confidence and self-esteem, helps you learn to enjoy the present-moment, and increases self-awareness.
The choice to practice Yoga will help you control your high blood pressure as it contributes to greater general health and well-being.
Courtesy of the American Yoga Association
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