7 Yoga Poses to Avoid If You Have High Blood Pressure

Kristin McGee
7 Yoga Poses to Avoid If You Have High Blood Pressure

Yoga has amazing benefits such as increased flexibility, better concentration, less stress, stronger bones and muscles, and much more. But for some people with certain conditions, yoga needs to be practiced with extra safety.

If you are new to yoga and have high blood pressure, there are certain poses you need to avoid.

Yoga and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure affects 1 out of 4 people; and is a condition where the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. For people with high blood pressure, it’s important to never let the head dip below the heart in inverted positions.

It’s also a good idea for those with high blood pressure to avoid rigorous classes and overly hot rooms (such as Bikram-style yoga).

Yoga helps us all learn to listen to our body and link our breath to our movement, but if you're practicing asanas and you have high blood pressure, probably the most important yoga poses to avoid are inversions. This is because when the head is below the heart, there’s an increased risk of stroke.

When the breath gets rapid or held, it’s a good sign that the pose is too challenging or you need to back off.

In general, before starting a practice, always check with your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or any condition. Then proceed with caution and listen to your body and breath. If you feel faint, dizzy, or experience rapid breathing, stop and rest.

Here are some of the yoga poses you should absolutely avoid if you have high blood pressure:

1. Headstand

Headstand

Avoid this because headstand is an inversion (the head is below the heart), and the sudden flow of blood to the head might not be safe for many who have high blood pressure.

2. Forearm Stand

Credit: Kristin McGee Credit: Kristin McGee

Same reason as headstand.

3. Shoulder Stand

Supported Shoulder Stand Image Credit: Julia Lee

Same reason as all inversions.

4. Handstand

Credit: Kaitlin Daddona Credit: Kaitlin Daddona

an inversion and rigorous pose.

5. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Dog

Play it by ear, for some it may be ok; but again the head is below the heart and this should be practiced with caution for those with high blood pressure.

6. Standing Forward Bends

How-To-Do-Standing-Forward-Bend-Pose

the head is below the heart.

7. Backbends

5 Key Actions to Take in Upward Bow or Wheel Pose

Too vigorous and can elevate the heart rate too rapidly.

Additional Tips

Make sure to keep your head lifted when you’re doing seated forward folds. You can still practice lunges, warriors, planks, side triangle, extended angle, eagle, tree, and legs up the wall, which is a good way to practice an easy, safe inversion for the legs.

For people with high blood pressure, I'd also suggest Downward Dog done at a wall with the head and heart in the same line.

For those with high blood pressure, yoga should still be practiced with safety and the calming, meditative, restorative and yin styles of yoga are actually quite beneficial. I don’t want to scare anyone away from developing a yoga practice and if you do have high blood pressure, yoga can help in so many ways.

The pros will definitely outweigh the cons. Check with your physician, find a good basics class or teacher you can rely on to modify, avoid going upside down and you will be fine.