Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to a study published in The Lancet journal, deaths due to cardiovascular diseases have almost doubled in India between 1990 and 2016 from 1.3 million to 2.8 million. This indicates that a shift towards unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits, rising stress levels and lack of physical activity are some things that can be blamed for the same.
“On the positive side, there is a lot one can do to prevent it. Yoga offers one of the best preventive mechanisms when it comes to lifestyles diseases. Daily practice of a few asanas and breathing exercises can go a long way in maintaining the health of your heart and preventing a cardiac problem. Yoga asanas are not only an excellent preventive measure but have curative benefits too,” says Mahabir Singh Rawat, senior yoga teacher, Jindal Naturecure Institute.
“Yoga has a combination of asanas and breathing techniques that have a positive effect on the respiratory system and the heart. Regular practice of yoga helps in improving lung capacity and heart rate, lower cholesterol levels, and better blood circulation,” he adds.
The following poses, when practiced in sequence, can help keep heart ailments at bay:
Stand straight. Keep the feet together and hands in front of the thigh. While inhaling raise the arm over the head, and bend backward from the upper back. Keep the legs and arms straight and lookup. This practice stretches the arms, chest, and abdomen and improves cardiorespiratory function.
Stand straight and let your arms hang to the side. Bend the right knee and place your right foot on the left thigh. Ensure that the sole of your right foot is placed flat against the thigh. Balance yourself, inhale, and raise both the arms over the head, bringing them together in the ‘namaste’ mudra. Focus your attention on a distant object to help maintain the balance. Make sure your spine is erect. Your body should be taut and flexible. Inhale deeply, and with every exhalation, release the tension in your body. Gently lower your hands and release your right leg. Now repeat the same pose on the other side. This pose helps develop a firm posture, broadens your shoulders and opens up your heart.
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Lie down on your stomach with your hands to the side, and make sure that your toes touch one another. Gently move your hands towards the front until they are at shoulder level. Turn your palms down and place them on the floor. Take a deep breath and gently raise your trunk and head. Ensure that your arms are bent at the elbows at this point. Tilt your neck back while making sure your shoulder is firm and away from your ears. Press your feet, thighs and hips to the floor. Stay in the position for about 15 to 20 seconds while you breathe normally. To release, bring your hands back to the side and place your head on the ground.
Make sure you practice these poses under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor till you master them. If you are suffering from a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you get a note from your primary physician explaining the condition to your yoga teacher.