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Yoga Helps Manage High Blood Pressure

Yoga Helps Manage High Blood Pressure, yoga over 50, yoga in middle age
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BY MARI S. GOLD

If you have high blood pressure, adding a yoga practice to your existing regimen may be very helpful. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, Howard Weintraub, M.D., a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, who was not associated with the study said: “Yoga would be a useful adjunct in the lowering of blood pressure in certain populations.” (

Although the study did not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship, doing yoga two to three times a week was associated with an average drop in blood pressure readings from 133/80 to 130/77.  People who ate a special diet but did not practice yoga did not have as great a decrease in blood pressure.

Yoga Instructor Weighs In

Hollis Lewis, who teaches at several New York City yoga studios including YogaWorks and the New York Health & Racquet Club, feels the study findings have merit.

“Yoga goes far beyond teaching asanas, as the classic postures are known,” he points out. “The practice can also calm the mind and body by encouraging followers to focus on the breath in challenging poses and/or stressful life situations.”

Dr. Weintraub said the study showed that “yoga can have a favorable effect” on hypertension. Even though the overall amount of change was small, he said, “Some large population studies have suggested that changes of this magnitude could have very significant long-term benefits.”

Another Physician Agrees

Dr. David Friedman, chief of Heart Failure Services at the North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital, in Plainview, N.Y. added that  “Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests.”

Yogi Lewis also notes that those who practice yoga may also decide to pay closer attention to their diet. “When one lives a yogic lifestyle, it often follows that the individual gains a greater awareness of what the body needs and does not need in terms of nourishment,” he observes.  “Yogisand involved practitioners—eat and enjoy foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Eating this way helps eliminate unhealthy additives like: sodium that also helps manage blood pressure.”

So, you out there with hypertension:  Anyone for downward dog?

 

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