56. Yoga (64 non-drug ways to lower Blood pressure)

I actually haven’t found a scientific study that shows that yoga lowers blood pressure. However, like Tai Chi, Yoga is actually a wonderful exercise program … and Yoga probably does lower blood pressure. The slow breathing of yoga is probably the element of yoga that most important from blood pressure perspective.

In item #11, I talked about my experience with Tai Chi, and how it is a surprisingly good workout. In contrast, I’ve found that Yoga is harder on the body. I tend to injure myself more, and have hurting muscles more the next day. So if you do try yoga, go slow, and don’t force anything. Just go as far as you can with gentleness. If you have instructor, chose one that takes the long term view, and doesn’t push you to do what you cannot. Despite these drawbacks, the yoga focus on breathing, stretching, and flexibility are in my opinion good builders of health.

There is a fair amount of discussion on use of Yoga inversions and its potential benefit for blood pressure control. Although I haven’t found it easy to do a lot of “upside down stuff” in the house, what I have done seems to have a way of stimulating the body that is healthy. There is something youthful about turning yourself upside down and pretending you are a child again. The peaceful concept of unity of body and mind of Yoga, have the potential to create deep states of relaxation. Not only does this relaxation help increase flexibility, and various exercises build strength and flexibility.

Like Tai Chi, yoga has ability to help us create better balance, and to maintain better muscle tone. Yoga positions fall in six classes: 1) sitting postures 2) standing postures, 3) supine postures, 4) prone postures, 5) inverted postures, 6) balancing postures. Some yoga folks suggest a simple routine, going through a few sitting postures, then standing, supine (face up) , prone (face down), inverted, and various balancing postures, and then backward again through these to sitting postures. Since yoga has a lot of stretching exercises, one key to remember is to slowly gently stretch, there should be no bouncing into the stretch, or forcing into the stretch. As we get older we tend to lose flexibility, it harder to get down to tie your shoes and so on.

A little yoga, goes a long way to making us feel like teenagers again, with ability to scramble up and down, bend and turn without pain or injury. 10 minutes a day is probably a reasonable commitment. Given a choice, I would choose Tai Chi over Yoga, but the two do make a very complimentary program.



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