Breathe in…breathe out…now relax completely.
We typically think of yoga as a spiritual exercise, something that’s meant to be done to give you better concentration powers and simply stretch your body before the real workout. Or worse, a ‘breathing exercise’ to be pursued when your body is too old and wrinkly to work out at the gym.
You couldn’t be more wrong. This form of exercise has kept our ancestors healthy, wealthy, and going since ancient times.
What if you found out that yoga actually has statistically proven results in fighting diseases? Practising yoga for a year can lead to an improvement in your cholesterol levels. Studies conducted in India, in Delhi and Ahmedabad between February 2018 and 2019, were able to set records of a significant reduction in bad cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol in its participants.[1, 2]
Up to 30% of India’s urban population and 20% of the rural population has been diagnosed with high cholesterol in recent years. This should give you enough motivation to put on those yoga pants, take out that mat, and get going.
Read on to know about some yoga poses that can help you to lower your cholesterol levels:
- Naukasana (Boat Pose): Lie on your back on the mat, with your hands on the sides, and your legs against each other. Breathe in first and exhale slowly as you start raising your legs and arms off the floor. Make sure you lift your torso up along with your hands. Hold the pose for 10-20 seconds and slowly return to your horizontal position.
- Matsyasana (Fish pose): Lie on your back on the mat, with your hands on the sides, and your legs together. Slide your palms below your hips and pull your elbows inwards, closer to each other. Slowly start lifting your head off the ground and stretch your feet outwards. Make sure your body’s weight is on your elbows and not on the head. Hold the pose comfortably for as long as you can, and then slowly come back to your original pose. Keep in mind to breathe gently as you hold the pose.
- Dhanurasana (Bow pose): Lie down on your stomach on the yoga mat, keeping your legs apart at hip-width. Now bend your legs at the knee towards your back and hold your feet or your ankles with your hands. Inhale slowly, and lift your head off the floor. Breathe steadily and hold the pose for 15-20 seconds. Slowly come back to your original pose and breathe out.
- Ushtrasana: For this pose, kneel on the yoga mat with your hands on your hips and feet facing upwards. Leaning back, rest your hands on your feet. Then breathe in and slowly arch your back. Make sure your hands are straight. Hold the pose as long as you are comfortable, and come back to your original position slowly without straining your neck.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): Lie down on the yoga mat on your stomach, with your forehead touching the mat, feet together, and palms underneath the shoulders. As you breathe out, pull your head, neck, and shoulders back along with your entire torso. If you can arch your torso completely, do that by straightening your hands out. Make sure you put equal pressure on both hands and continue to hold the pose for a few seconds. Slowly come back down to your original pose and relax.
Apart from these yoga asanas, you can also try the Surya Namaskar with 10 repetitions. It has numerous health benefits. A study from 2019 in Ahmedabad saw a reduction in total cholesterol levels of the 50 participants from 240 to 198 mg/dL with just one year of regular yoga for 60 minutes a day. Moreover, good cholesterol values also increased from 29 to 62 mg/dL. The participants were all non-athletic and did not do yoga regularly before the study.
It may sound too good to be true. But a simple lifestyle change such as an hour of yoga every day can reduce the amount of medication you need to control your cholesterol levels, along with giving you a longer, healthier life. Consult a trained supervisor to find out how much and which yoga asanas are the best for you. Your daily dose of yoga might even be all that you ever need to control and reduce your high cholesterol.
- Oza DN, Vadasaria N, Patel TA, Verma RJ. Study of therapeutic role of yoga (Hathyoga) on lipid profile in dyslipidemic individuals of Ahmedabad city. Indian J Tradit Know. 2019 Apr;18(2);333-338. Available from: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/47077.
- Mahesh NK, Kumar A, Bhat KG, Verma N. Role of yoga therapy on lipid profile in patients of hypertension and prehypertension. Int J Adv Med. 2018 Apr;5(2). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.18203/2349-3933.ijam20180945.
- Gupta R, Rao RS, Misra A, Sharma SK. Recent trends in epidemiology of dyslipidemias in India. Indian Heart J. 2017;69(3):382–392. doi:10.1016/j.ihj.2017.02.020
- Boat Pose (Navasana) [Internet]. [updated 2018 May 02; cited 2019 Jul 08]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/boat-pose-navasana.
- Yoga – The natural immunity booster [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jul 08]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-natural-immunity-booster.
- How yoga makes menstrual cramps a history! [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jul 08]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/yoga-for-women/yoga-for-menstrual-cramps.