What is the first thought that comes into your mind hearing the word ‘cholesterol’? It probably must be the primary reason behind heart attack, stroke, heart blockage or even diabetes! Yes, these are potential red signals of having high cholesterol. But did you know that for the healthy functioning of the body, you actually need cholesterol in your blood. Sounds shocking, doesn’t it? Well, contrary to popular belief not all cholesterol is bad? Yes, there are good and bad types of cholesterol. But before plunging into details, let us first know a bit about cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
For the unversed, cholesterol is actually a non-soluble fatty substance that is produced by the cells within the body. It is essentially required by the body to build membranes and membrane fluids. It is also known to play a pivotal role in the synthesis of Vitamin D and hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. Our blood moves the cholesterol through the body via tiny packages called lipoproteins. There are usually two types of cholesterol, i.e., Low density lipoproteins or LDL and High-density lipoproteins or HDL.
LDL is the oxidized form of cholesterol that mainly clings itself to the artery walls, thereby creating a plaque that can eventually block the arteries resulting in a stroke or heart attack and hence it should be low. And HDL travels around in the bloodstream, gathering up the excess LDL cholesterol and bringing it to the liver to be recycled, hence it should be high.
What Is Hypercholesterolemia?
In this case, the body has high cholesterol levels in the blood. It is a form of hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipids in the blood), hyperlipoproteinemia (high levels of lipoproteins in the blood), and dyslipidemia (any abnormalities of lipid and lipoprotein levels in the blood). It usually happens when the blood has high LDL levels and low HDL levels. Factors like inactivity, poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle usually contributes to high cholesterol levels in the blood.
That being said, to keep a check on the level of LDL, it is important to adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes healthy food habits and regular physical exercise. Although in most cases, doctors might prescribe medications, yet if you want a natural way to keep a check on cholesterol, Yoga is your ultimate solution. This timeless approach has a multitude of health benefits that goes beyond regular stretching and aerobic exercises. Regular practice of yoga asanas coupled with pranayama, meditation and a sensible diet stimulates the endocrine system that helps one lose weight, builds stamina that helps overcome a sedentary lifestyle, massages the abdominal organs that ultimately helps lower LDL and raise HDL levels in the blood.
We bring a set of 5 ultimate yoga poses to balance cholesterol levels naturally.
Incredible Yoga Postures To Prevent High Cholesterol
Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent. Bring the soles close to your buttocks while keeping the feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your shoulders and insure that your fingers are spread open. Point the fingers towards the shoulders. Now, bring your weight up and balance on your limbs. This should help you to rise your entire body off the mat. The head should hang gently, and your neck should stretch out. Hold this pose for at least a minute while taking slow and deep breaths. Slowly, release from the pose by bending the arms and legs while lowering your back to the ground back to Shavasana pose and repeat 2-3 times.
The wheel pose is one of the best poses for lowering blood cholesterol levels effectively. It readily improves the liver functions and helps to flush out cholesterol. This pose also massages the abdominal organs, promotes digestion and prevents constipation.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist)
Sit straight with your legs stretched out and feet together. Bend your right leg and place the heel of your right foot beside your left hip. Now, take the left leg over your right knee. Place your right hand on your left foot and your left hand behind you. Twist the waist, shoulders, and neck to the left and look over the left side shoulder. Hold the position and continue breathing in and out gently. Slowly come back to the original starting position and repeat in the same manner on the other side.
The twisting of the upper side of the body works on the whole spine and opens the sides of the chest when performed on the left and right sides. It also stimulates the heart muscles, removes stiffness from the vertebral column, and normalises the pulse rate. Practising it regularly prevents cholesterol build-up in the blood and reduces the risk of heart attacks, heart blocks, atherosclerosis etc.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder-Stand Pose)
Lie flat on the ground with your legs laid side-by-side and both arms resting on either side of the body. Swing your legs up in such a way so that your legs, buttocks and hip is up in the air and support your body with your elbows attached to the ground. While settling into the pose, ensure that the hold your body properly keeping your legs and spine straight. Hold the pose for 30-40 secs while breathing normally. Slowly bring down your legs back to Shavasana pose and repeat 2-3 times.
Famed as the “Mother of all Poses”, the shoulder stand pose is extremely beneficial in regulating the thyroid hormones which in turn helps in breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the body. This process improves metabolism and reduces the accumulation of cholesterol. Additionally, it also soothes the nerves and calms the mind.
Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Kneel down with your feet close to each other. Sit on your heels with a straight back and neck. Keep your hands in a relaxed position on your thighs while keeping your palms down. Now look forward, keeping your head straight. Sit in that position for at least 30 seconds and take long deep breaths. Relax and repeat 5 times.
An extremely easy pose, vajrasana is the one pose that can be performed right after meals as it effectively massages the digestive organ and readily improves digestion. It also helps in relieving the stress of muscular cramps, and it promotes the circulation of blood that helps in lowering cholesterol.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bent Pose)
Start the pose with your legs stretched out forward. While lifting your arms up, keep your back straight. Exhale and bend forward while keeping your arms horizontal to your legs. Try to hold your big toes with your fingers and keep this position for 30 seconds.
The seated forward bend pose is an extremely immune-boosting pose. It not only improves digestion, and stimulates the liver and kidneys but also helps get rid of fat from the abdominal region. Performing it regularly also increases appetite, reduces obesity, and helps expunging excess cholesterol from the body.