Lower Your Blood Pressure with Infrared Heat and Yoga
High blood pressure affects nine out of ten Americans at some point during their lives and constitutes a major risk factor in heart disease and stroke. The good news is there are many things we can do to keep our blood pressure in a healthy range. If you are looking for holistic methods to treat high blood pressure, infrared heat and yoga are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, strengthen cardiovascular fitness, burn excess calories, and reduce stress—all of which contribute to overall heart health.
A recent study released by the University of Missouri determined infrared heat to be effective and safe in improving heart function. The study determined that, especially for those with high blood pressure, far-infrared can play a preventative role in heart disease. Just like cardiovascular exercise, infrared heat puts positive stress on the heart, increasing heart rate and volume. By promoting dilation of blood vessels, infrared heat increases surface blood flow without increasing blood pressure.
YAM combines infrared heat with yoga to achieve optimal health benefits. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology indicates that, among people 40 years and older, the ability to touch your toes can be correlated with the risk for heart attack or stroke. Age-related stiffening of the arteries is a key contributor to high blood pressure and the propensity to develop blood clots. The flexibility and increased circulation gained through regular yoga practice has a positive impact on arterial elasticity, which helps keep blood pressure normal.
Dr. Dean Ornish has conducted numerous studies and introduced millions of people to the benefits of yoga in treating high blood pressure and heart disease. Ornish was one of the first medical researchers to identify and emphasize chronic stress as a key contributor to elevated blood pressure. Yoga combines breath with movement to activate the body’s relaxation response. When our autonomic nervous system is in chronic stress mode, our heartbeat becomes less variable. The deep relaxation we experience through yoga practice reduces autonomic nervous stimulation, creating ideal conditions for healthy cardiovascular function.
Recommendations and Contraindications for High Blood Pressure
Certain yoga practices are specifically beneficial for certain health conditions and conversely certain practices should be modified to accommodate certain health conditions. In poses where arms are raised above the head (for instance warrior poses), consider placing your hands on your hips instead. Deep backbends and intense inversions should be approached with caution. Bridge pose and Downward-facing Dog are mild inversions and healthy for those with high blood pressure. Standing and seated forward folds are highly beneficial for lowering blood pressure as are restorative yoga poses and breath-calming pranayama exercises.