“The practice is beneficial for heart health and helps lower blood pressure, apart from offering other health benefits”
New Delhi, June 21, 2019:
Studies examining the benefits of yoga have suggested that the practice provides significant benefits for cardiovascular health, including LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. Those who practiced asana-based yoga reduced their LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels by 12.1 mg/dL and systolic blood pressure by 5.2 mm Hg and increased their HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels by 3.2 mg/dL.
On International Yoga Day, there is a need to create awareness on the benefits of yoga for overall health and well-being.
Yoga is a science, which shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic state of mind. It is a combination of Hatha Yoga (asanas or postures), breathing and meditation. Meditation means concentrating on an object and giving preference to that over thoughts. Mindfulness meditation and breathing awareness can shift one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “At the outset, I would like to wish all the readers on International Yoga Day. We must understand the difference between ‘yog’ and ‘yoga’. The word ‘yoga’ comes from a Sanskrit term that means union. It refers to combining the body, mind, and day-to-day challenges of life into a single experience rather than keeping them separate. The word ‘yog’ on the other hand refers to a state of mind that is in the present. It is about being in the ‘now’ and losing oneself in the moment. For instance, when we are with a childhood friend, we are not aware of how time has lapsed. This state can be referred to as the yogic state.”
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The essence of Bhagavad Gita can be summarized in one Shloka (Chapter 2.48) where Krishna says to Arjuna ‘Yogastha Kuru Karmani’, which means ‘concentrate on actions’ (do all actions while remaining in yoga). He further says that one should take success and failure in the same stride (Yogastha= steadfast in yoga, Kuru = perform, karmaani = duties or action).
Concentrating on action means concentrating on the present. While doing the latter, one cannot be in the past or in the future, and the past regrets and future anxieties cannot make one suffer. Once a person is in the present moment, they can only take consciousness-based decisions.
Some tips on doing yoga from HCFI for those with certain health conditions
- Yoga is not included as an aerobic exercise. Fast breathing exercises stimulate the sympathetic system. Slow breathing stimulates the parasympathetic system. Therefore, cardiac clearance needs to be taken for all breathing exercises.
- In three situations in Hatha Yoga (headstand, handstand, shoulder stand), the total body weight is put on head, wrist and shoulder. This requires medical clearance, especially for heart patients.
- When you get up from a sitting position, nine times weight is put on the knees. Hence, patients of osteoarthritis should avoid sitting down, low height beds or chair or Indian toilets. Yoga may prevent osteoarthritis, but once developed, Hatha Yoga practices need to be modified.
- The Lotus position, forward and backward bends need orthopedic clearance in selected patients.
- Forward spine exercises may require orthopedic clearance in selected cases as they may precipitate sciatica, if done incorrectly. Painful and/or difficult yoga postures should be avoided. Patients with cervical disc disease, glaucoma should avoid doing inversion postures (head stand, shoulder stand).
- If pain or paresthesia worsen, stop and consult a doctor.