A Little Downward Facing Dog May Lower BP

Yoga exercises done at home were found to lower blood pressure in adults with hypertension

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) For people with hypertension (high blood pressure), taking medication is often an important part of lowering blood pressure. And according to new research, doing some yoga exercises could help too.

A recent study found that home-based yoga practice was found to lower blood pressure in a group of adults who were diagnosed with hypertension.

Surprisingly, the researchers found no significant reduction in blood pressure for study participants who attended yoga classes with a yoga instructor.

"Add some yoga exercises to your exercise regimen."

This study was led by Moa Wolff of the Center for Primary Health Care Research in the Department of Clinical Sciences in Malmö at Lund University in Sweden. The research team examined the effects of two yoga interventions on blood pressure and quality of life for patients who were diagnosed with hypertension.

Wolff and colleagues analyzed data from 83 patients at a primary health care center in Sweden who were between the ages of 20 and 80 years and who had been diagnosed previously with hypertension. Specifically, patients included in the study had a systolic blood pressure of 120-160 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 80-110 mm Hg.

Systolic blood pressure is a measure of blood pressure when the heart beats, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of blood pressure in between heartbeats.

The 83 study participants were split into three groups: 28 were in the yoga class group with access to a yoga instructor, 28 were in the yoga at home group with no yoga instructor access, and 27 were in the no yoga (control) group. The yoga interventions lasted for 12 weeks.

For the yoga class group, participants were split into smaller groups and met once a week for one hour with the instructor. Participants were also encouraged to practice yoga at home for 30 minutes each day using instructional CDs and manuals.

For the home-based yoga group, participants attended a doctor’s appointment, where they were given instructions for two yoga exercises to perform at home for a total of 15 minutes.

Blood pressure measurements were taken at the beginning and end of the study. Quality of life was measured using a shorter version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life-100 survey.

Several factors were taken into account that could have influenced blood pressure including: age, body mass index (a measure of height and weight), gender and medications.

The researchers found that the yoga class group showed no improvements in blood pressure or quality of life compared to the control group.

The home-based yoga group, however, had a 4.4 mm Hg reduction in diastolic blood pressure when compared to the control group. The home-based yoga group also reported significant improvements in quality of life compared to the control group.

As the authors of this study noted, about 26 percent of adults worldwide have hypertension. Having hypertension can increase a person’s risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

These authors concluded that performing simple yoga exercises may be a beneficial addition to blood pressure reduction programs.

This study was published on December 7 in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders.

The researchers reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
December 9, 2013
Last Updated:
March 12, 2015