Yoga and Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that occur together and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These health conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.1 Making healthy lifestyle choices that include eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains; avoiding saturated fat and salt in your diet; maintaining a healthy weight; and not smoking should be implemented in your daily life to help prevent these conditions that cause metabolic syndrome. Physical activity is another important lifestyle factor that can prevent the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, and yoga is an excellent type of physical activity that can help mitigate the risks associated with this dangerous health condition. In fact, research has shown that yoga, when practiced regularly, can help people with metabolic syndrome manage their symptoms, including reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure.2,3

Here are a few simple blood- pressure lowering yoga poses that are perfect after a long, stressful day at work.

Virasana—Hero Pose

This pose can help relax your legs, aid in digestion, and be used for seated meditation.

Start in a kneeling position, with the tops of your feet down on the mat and your knees touching. Stand up on your knees, separating your feet slightly wider than hip distance and pointing your big toes in slightly, with the tops of your feet pressed evenly into the floor. Slowly sit down between your feet, using your hands to move your calf muscles out of the way. If you have bad knees, you can place a thick book or block between your feet so that when you sit, you won’t sit as deeply. Focus on relaxing your shoulders away from your ears and sitting up straight and tall. Rest your hands, palms up or down, on your thighs. Take at least 5 slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your back straight, chest up, and shoulders down.

Baddha Konasana—Bound Angle Pose

This pose helps open and stretch your hips, which is especially important after a long day of sitting behind a desk. It also is a grounding post, so it can help relax your mind and ease tension.

Sit with your bottom flat on your mat. Bring your heels in toward your pelvis, placing the soles of your feet together. Clasp your feet/ toes with interlaced fingers. Focus on relaxing your groin to open your knees, letting them slowly open toward the mat. Stretch up through your spine and make sure to keep your bottom flat on the floor. Hold pose for 3 to 5 minutes, breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Viparita Karani— Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose

This pose doesn’t require a lot of flexibility or strength and can be very relaxing.

Find a comfortable place where you can lie down and put your legs up (If the floor is too uncomfortable, try lying on your bed with your legs up the headboard). Move your hips/ bottom as close to the wall as possible and walk your feet up the wall until your body makes an L shape. You can rest your hands on your belly or stretch them out to your sides… whatever feels the most comfortable. Taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, try to hold the pose for at least 5 minutes while focusing on your breathing.

Savasana— Corpse Pose

Use this pose to relax your body and mind and find inner peace. If done mindfully, this pose can help you release physical tension, as well as lingering negative or stressful thoughts from the day.

Lie on your back with legs straight, resting your arms a few inches from your body with your palms up. Let your feet drop open. Close your eyes (but don’t let yourself fall asleep). Breathe naturally, allowing your body to sink into the ground.

Starting from the soles of your feet and working your way up to the top of your head, focus on releasing and relaxing every part of your body. Relax your face, and invite peaceful serenity into your body and mind. Stay in this pose for at least 5 minutes, mindfully focused on creating a silent, calm mental state. When you are ready to come out of the pose, gently roll onto your side and slowly push yourself
up into a seated position. Take 2 or 3 slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth before slowly standing up. Namasté.

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