Yoga For Your Heart Health
Yoga improves heart health by increasing blood circulation and blood flow. In addition, practising yoga can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, as well as the heart rate — which can all add up to a lower risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. It is said to expand the chest, improve breathing and lift our overall mood. Gayatri Tagore, a Yoga expert discusses different Asanas and its benefits to improve your heart health.
It helps to maintain a healthy heart. In Sanskrit, “utthita” means extended, “trikona” means three-angle or triangle, and “asana” means pose. If you have neck issues or are uncomfortable with Extended Triangle pose, turn your gaze down to the floor and consciously relax your neck. Then shift your gaze slowly upward if you can. Alternatively, keep your head centred and gaze forward. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhale and step your feet apart about 4 feet wide and keep your feet parallel to each other. Your heels should be in line. Raise your arms and reach out to the sides, palms down. Try to keep your shoulders wide, arms parallel to the floor and torso long and upright. Now, turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right, so the inner part of your right foot faces forward. Remember to keep your heels in line with each other. Then, turn your right thigh outward, so it faces in the direction of your right toes, allowing your hips to shift to the left as you do so. Now, exhale and bend towards the right – hinging at the hips, not the waist. The key is to lengthen your torso: extend through the crown of your head while drawing your hips and tailbone toward your back heel. Lower your right hand to your right shin, ankle, or the floor on either side of the foot. Make sure to keep your legs straight, thigh muscles engaged and front right foot pressed firmly into the ground. At this point, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. Stretch your left arm straight up toward the sky. Gaze up softly at your left hand. Hold this pose for 3 to 6 breaths. Inhale and press your back heel strongly into the floor. Repeat to the left for the same length of time.
Stand in Tadasana. During exhalation, step or lightly jump 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the centre of the kneecap is in line with the centre of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left. Anchor the left heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee, aim the inner knee toward the little toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulder blades firm against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto, the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm; counter this by burrowing your tail bone into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your sticky mat. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Inhale and push both heels strongly onto the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and return to Tadasana.
Sit on the floor with your torso upright and your legs wide. Bend your left knee and snug the heel into your left groin. Then slightly bend your right knee and slide the heel a few inches toward the right buttock. Exhale, lean to the right, and press the back of your right shoulder against the inside of your right knee. Lay your right forearm on the floor inside your right leg, palm facing up. Lengthen the right side of your torso along the inside of the right thigh. Turn your right palm toward the inside edge of the foot and take hold of it, thumb on the top of the foot, fingers on the sole. Remember, the pose is anchored by the femur bone of the left leg. Press the left femur firmly to the floor, as you inhale and slowly extend your right knee. When your knee is straight, twist your torso toward the ceiling. Inhale and keep your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, lean it back slightly, and then, with another inhale, sweep it behind your left ear and take hold of the outside edge of the right foot. Press the elbows away from each other, using them like a crank to help twist the upper torso further. Turn your head to look at the ceiling. Hold for a minute. To reverse the pose, first untwist your torso, and without coming to upright, sweep it to the left midway between the legs. Then inhale and lift to an upright position. Remember not to come up directly from the twisted position. Repeat these steps to the other side for the same length of time.
Ardha Matsyendrasana or Lord of the Fishes Pose
Begin seated with Gomukhasana pose, right knee on top. Keeping the left leg in its current position, place the right foot to the outside of the left knee. Root down with the right big toe mound, while simultaneously descending the right outer hip. Inhale and point the left arm towards the ceiling. Exhale, hook the left elbow to the outside of the right knee, taking the right hand to the floor to the outside of the right hip. Notice how the right knee tends to buckle into the midline; instead, press it to the right to create more resistance for the left elbow to work against. Take your gaze to the right, looking past the right shoulder. Make sure not to rely upon the easy mobility of the neck. Instead, find the movement first in the mid-upper back, so that the rotation in the cervical spine is a continuation of, rather than a substitution for, the rotation in the thoracic. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then release back to center and repeat on the other side.
Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join them. Exhale and bend your knees, the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs, until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels. Keep your shoulder blades firm against the back. The tailbone should be downward towards the floor. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.
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