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Saturday, October 29, 2016
Is Hot Yoga Safe for High Blood Pressure?
By Sangeetha Saran
Hot yoga has become a popular option in gyms and fitness centers around the world. It’s based on the idea of creating a warm, moist environment to imitate the climate of India. Since its introduction to the United States around 1970, Bikram’s heated style has morphed into other various forms of hot yoga. Class structures can vary, but a heated yoga class basically involves a room that’s heated to around 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity.
Many hot yoga followers continue to practice hot yoga because of the benefits it provides. Muscles can easily stretch when body heat rises to such levels, providing a way for students to push even deeper into stretches. With temperatures topping the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark, the body also begins to sweat out all of its toxins. Yoga enthusiasts who practice in heated classes find it a positive way to release stress and find clarity within the mind.
As with any type of yoga class, there is always a small amount of risk of injury involved. Some believe hot classes encourage injury or strain to the joints; tendons or muscles due to over-extension or pushing too far while muscles are so loose and warm. Those with high blood pressure might be concerned that hot yoga will put too much strain on the heart, causing blood pressure to rise even higher.
Actually, hot yoga should be able to help reduce high blood pressure over time, but it’s important for practitioners to speak with their doctor before beginning any kind of asana practice. If a student is taking a high blood pressure prescription, it should be noted that lower potassium levels may occur with some of these medications. Lower potassium levels can cause a stroke.
If you have high blood pressure, and have your doctor’s permission, you should be able to safely practice asanas in heated classes, but it is important to be aware of your body the entire time. Pay attention to how you feel. If you begin to feel short of breath, lightheaded or nauseous, those are signs to stop immediately.
Most heated classes are composed of a series of 26 postures. Some Yoga instructors recommend avoiding a few of those until your blood pressure returns to normal levels. The poses to avoid include the backward bend portion of Half Moon pose, Balancing Stick, Standing Bow Pulling, Cobra, the third portion of Locust, Full Locust and Camel. All other asanas can safely be performed with slow, steady breathing or alternate nostril breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths will help arteries return to their normal size, allowing blood to flow easily throughout the body.