When yoga elevates blood pressure and pressure in the eye (glaucoma).
It seems like everybody in the United States over the age of 30 has high blood pressure..well, maybe just ninety-nine per cent of people I know. Some of them are on as many as four meds a day to lower and control that undeniably unforgiving silent killer.
As I mentioned in the “About You” page, one of the reasons for starting a blog was to write about pitfalls I’ve been through that would cause much distress for anyone. This is an example:
Many of us are trying to find ways to keep our blood pressure within normal range with diet, exercise, physical activity, yoga, tai chi, etc.
For a long time I’ve heard and read about the wonderful benefits of yoga and how it can lower blood pressure, so I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this warning.
By the way, when some people heard that I was taking yoga classes, they envisioned me sitting on the floor with my eyes closed, legs folded like a pretzel, palms together and humming a prayer to a foreign god. I let them know that my plan was to gain more strength and energy, improve flexibility and balance, increase stamina, and to aim for relaxation and stress reduction. I assured them that yoga would not short-circuit my faith.
One day our instructor announced that those of us with high blood pressure or glaucoma, should not do the following poses. Well, I assumed she didn’t mean me because I didn’t have glaucoma and my BP was under control, so I did those poses. On the way home I realized I wasn’t feeling “quite right” when usually I felt great after class. I was pretty sure my BP was up. Now I know “they” say we can’t feel when our BP is elevated, however, I can usually feel when mine is either too high or too low. How about you?
At home, sure enough, my blood pressure readings were sky-high. After much research, I discovered that those positions we were warned about are called inversions. They’re a group of yoga poses where the legs or hips are higher than the heart, or the heart is higher than the head,
causing blood pressure to spike, thereby increasing the risk for a stroke or other cardiac event. Those who have glaucoma (an eye condition) must avoid those inversions also because they increase the pressure of the fluid inside the eye which can cause vision loss or even blindness.
Of course there was no need to stop the classes, I just stopped doing those poses.
Lesson learned–know your risks and don’t assume.
Some of this information is part of the “Dumbbells And Diet” post now buried in the archives. Because this warning can prevent a serious outcome for many people, I decided to bring it to the attention of those who didn’t read that post.
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