My name is Debbie Lash, I am a LA trained yoga teacher and health coach. I’m passionate about helping people take control of their health and happiness in order to live their best life.
Our heart is an amazing machine. It rarely misses a beat, which is impressive considering it delivers, on average, around 2 billion beats by the time we are 70. This core action keeps us alive by pumping blood around our 100,000-mile long network of veins.
The chances are that at least one person you know has high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, and that they are probably taking medication to keep it under control. And nowadays it’s quite clear that there is no age limit for having heart difficulties, highlighted by the rise in under 30’s falling prey to cardiac problems.
So what is hypertension, or high blood pressure? It is a chronic disease that occurs when the pressure exerted on the walls of arteries is persistently elevated, which increases the risk of having a stroke, a heart attack or getting kidney disease. Symptoms to watch out for are fatigue, nosebleeds, ringing in the ears, dizziness, bursts of anger and headaches, but these are not generally experienced until blood pressure is dangerously high. It is often referred to as the silent killer’as many people have no symptoms at all.
So what causes it? Elevated blood pressure can arise from one of these three main factors: A) bad diet B) sedentary behavior i.e. lack of exercise, and C) a high-stress lifestyle. Put all three together and you should have a check up right now!
So what can you do about it? Consulting your doctor and seeking medical advice is where you start but there are also many other lifestyle changes you can implement. They are obvious and simple:
- Make better food choices by loading up on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid red meat, salt (sodium), and foods and drinks that contain added sugars.
- Stop Smoking. Aside from providing numerous other health benefits, quitting smoking can help your blood pressure return to normal.
- Drink less alcohol. Alcoholcan raise your blood pressure, even if you’re healthy.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight your heart has to work so much harder.
- Move your body. As little as 30-60 minutes exercise every day will make a huge difference.
- Introduce breath work (Pranayama) to your daily routine. Studies have proven that conscious breathing quickly lowers blood pressure. Anywhere between 5 -15 mins per day will help.
- And of course, try Yoga! Yoga reduces stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.
YOGA POSES TO COMBAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Obviously some postures have more benefits than others for lowering blood pressure. Just adopt the ones you enjoy the most. We are looking at incorporating a gentle practice, think Yin or Restorative Yoga.
I often start my classes and privates with breath work seated but you can also do this lying down if it feels better in your body. I find its helpful to sit on a block or bolster to enable you to find a comfortable position. Pranayama fast tracks you from being in the thinking mind and drops you into the feeling mind, where you begin the process of linking your thoughts to your breath. It also works as a form of meditation that will instantly help lower elevated blood pressure.
SUPPORTED HERO POSE / VIRASANA
Stretches the thigh muscles (quadriceps)
Helps maintain knee and ankle flexibility
Relieves menopausal symptoms
Improves digestion and relieves gases
Forward folds where the head is supported, which can be on a block, a blanket, a bolster or even a chair, have a cooling & calming effect on the whole body. They also help to quiet the mind as your focus turns inward.
SUPPORTED DOWNWARD DOG / ADHO MUKHA SHVANASANA
Releases trapped stress in the neck and shoulders
Relieves anxiety and stress
Lengthens hamstrings and strengthens spine, wrists, shoulders, legs & feet
SUPPORTED HEAD TO KNEE POSE / JANU SIRSANANA
Calms nervous system
Stretches lower back, spine, hamstring, neck and shoulders
Reduces menstrual cycle pain and sciatic pain
Stimulates kidneys and opens hip
SUPPORTED RECLINING HERO POSE / SUPTA VIRASANA
Hip opener, stretches front body, thighs, chest, lungs, chest, feet, abdominal muscles, genital nerves and sex organs
Stimulates digestion, respiratory system
Reduces stress, anxiety and sciatica pain
SUPPORTED INVERTED LAKE POSE / VIPARITA KARANI
Other Benefits: (this pose can also be done at the wall to give you more support if you need it)
Relieve edema (fluid pooling) or congestion in the legs
Stimulates and balances the adrenal glands and kidneys
Passively opens the chest, stretches the cardiac muscle, and helps venous blood return to the heart
Reverses the effect of gravity on the entire body
Calms the nervous system
CORPSE POSE / SHAVASANA
Encourages the relaxation response, which is characterized by quieter, deeper breathing and increased cellar oxygen consumption
Can relieve migraine headaches
Allows you to fully let go
Remember yoga is a practice that can be started anytime and anywhere, and at any stage of your life. You don’t need to be flexible, you just need to be willing and have patience, and the yoga will take care of the rest.
If this article resonates with you and you are now considering an online yoga sequence to help lower elevated blood pressure then check out my YouTube channel ‘Debbie Lash Yoga’. And once there you will also find a library of other classes to peruse.
Other ways to contact me:
Website – DebbieLash.com
Instagram – DebbieLashYoga
Facebook – Debbie Lash Yoga
Otherwise you’ll find me teaching at Earth Yoga in Santa Catalina and Portals, please join me and let’s flow together. Check their website for my schedule and book online to reserve your spot!
Photography by Emma Tabone