Two gentle yoga poses that are tough on cholesterol
When you think of high cholesterol, you probably think prescription drug ads, bacon double cheeseburgers, and grandpa, but not the person staring at you in the mirror. But the fact remains that nearly 1 in 10 young women has unhealthy cholesterol levels. Scary, huh? What’s causing the fatty waxy gunk to clog up so many arteries? Our sedentary lifestyle and dependency on processed foods play a big role. Smoking, high blood pressure, tension, genetics, and diabetes also shoulder some of the blame.
Yoga can make a small dent in cholesterol levels by easing stress and helping you lead a healthier lifestyle (and if feeling less tense helps you eat better, that can help too). If you’re overweight, mat time may get you started shedding pounds, Bell adds. Start out slowly with a gentle practice, especially if you have been inactive. Flow in and out of poses, keeping a slow, steady breath throughout, inhaling for one count, exhaling for two. This kind of breathing has been shown to help quiet the nervous system, Bell notes. Try his two top pose picks for melting stress and boosting heart health. And if you like what you feel, check under Sequences and Workouts for more yoga ideas.
Half moon stretch, modified
When the nervous system is quiet and your body has a chance to go into a "rest and digest" response, then your digestive system is likely to process food more efficiently. That means you’re better able to keep the nutrients you need and flush out the fatty stuff you don’t. That’s why stress-reducing poses, such as this one, are great for people with high cholesterol. Begin in mountain pose (tadasana). On an inhale, bring your arms straight overhead and interlace your fingers. Gently reach your upper body toward the right and come into a side bend (so your body looks like a half moon). Hold this position for three breaths. Come back to center. Repeat on the opposite side. Repeat on both sides five times.
Seated twist (ardha masyendrasana)
Yogis believe twisting poses, like this one, are especially good for aiding food digestion. While no studies have proven this works, it may be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels. Begin by sitting in staff pose (dandasana). On an inhale, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the floor, scooting your heel back toward your right sit bone. Slightly rotate your left leg inward. On an exhale, rotate your torso toward the right, wrapping your left arm around the outside of your right thigh. Press your left arm into your thigh as your right hip grounds down. Place your right hand behind you, pointing your fingertips away from your body. With each inhale, lengthen your spin and with each exhale twist slightly farther. Hold this pose for about 1 minute. On an exhale, release the twist and come back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Resource from: http://health.msn.com/