How does yoga control cholesterol levels?

Yoga is an alternate approach to restoring cholesterol level in the body.

It is said that high cholesterol is harmful to the body, but contrary to this popular view, it is also highly essential for the body’s functioning and maintenance. It is known to aid in the building the structure of cell membranes, make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones, and help your metabolism work efficiently, for example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D, according to online medical reports.

However, there is a reason doctors say that anything in excess is harmful, therefore, excess cholesterol is also harmful and can cause cardiac complications, among other problems.

Aniket Ukey, a yoga and fitness consultant based in Kigali, says that cholesterol is formed in the body because of the food we eat. For instance, junk food, deep fried food and meat products mainly contribute to the cholesterol banks in the body.

He adds that consumption of such cholesterol-rich foods causes a number of problems, including obesity. In alliance with yoga, controlling the cholesterol problem can be a great deal.

Researchers reported in the Indian Heart Journal that a three-month yoga programme helped reduce total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein-LDL cholesterol. It also improved HDL cholesterol levels in diabetics.

According to Very Well Health, studies have shown that practicing yoga can have many health benefits, such as aiding in the management of insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and osteoarthritis (a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down).

Recently, some clinical studies suggested that yoga can also help reduce levels of cholesterol (and another blood fat, triglycerides).

Healthline states that yoga can help lower stress levels. Yoga involves deep breathing, which can help with relaxation. Reducing stress may help with heart health, and helps promote healthy digestion through twisting postures.

But the results can vary from person-to-person. Your medical history, for example, may affect how beneficial yoga is for you.

Yoga postures to lower your cholesterol levels

Kapalbhati Pranayam (Bellows breath)

This yoga exercise involves a breathing technique that will help clear your mind and give you a natural and immediate boost of energy. The use of powerful breathing helps balance the dispel toxins and increases the metabolic rate to reduce weight. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestive tract functioning, Ukey states.

Child’s pose

Healthline states that this move helps reduce stress and allows for deep relaxation. Start in a kneeling position, sitting back towards your feet.

Separate your knees as wide as your hips and lay your torso down between your thighs. Keep your arms resting alongside your torso, palms facing up. Or extend the arms out in front with your palms down against the mat. Inhale and exhale freely. Hold for 30 seconds to three minutes.

Chakrasana (Bridge pose)

He says that with this pose, the abdominal organs are massaged and help soothe constipation. It also improves the functioning of the liver, thus, helps get rid of excess fat and cholesterol.

Shalabhasana (Locust)

With this pose, Ukey says that it assists to strengthen the back shoulders and arms and stretches the belly while stimulating the abdominal organs to help improve digestion.

Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)

A yoga pose which requires balancing the whole body on the shoulders to help influence the functioning of all parts of the body. The pose is highly beneficial in nurturing mental and physical health, he adds.

Legs up the wall pose

Healthline notes that this pose helps with blood flow to the heart. It may also help reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help with a variety of other health conditions.

Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)

Ukey carries on that this pose stimulates the liver and kidneys, lessens obesity and gets rid of excess fat from the abdominal region.

Experts advise that yoga is an alternate approach to restoring cholesterol level in the body and should not be taken as an alternative to medicine. It is highly recommended that you consult your doctor before giving up any current medication that you may be on.

Other alternatives

According to Asana Andiappan College of Yoga and Research Centre, various changes to lifestyle are recommended for those with high cholesterol levels in order to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. For instance, eat a heart-healthy diet.

Six super foods have been identified to actively lower cholesterol levels:

“Soya foods – soya milk, soya desserts, soya meat alternatives, soya nuts, edamame beans and tofu; nuts, oats and barley, which provide soluble fibre beta glucan; plant sterols or stanols which are found in a wide range of foods; fruits and vegetables; and foods rich in unsaturated fats such as canola and vegetable oils.”

Also, use low-fat toppings and sauces, and avoid foods high in saturated fat. In addition to fruit and vegetables, eat fibre-rich whole grains. Do regular exercise, including meditation, avoid smoking, and keep a healthy weight.

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