Friday, May 22, 2009

How to Lower Bad Cholesterol with Yoga?

Cholesterol has become a much-feared word these days, and most people are trying to lower high cholesterol. Diets and exercises to reduce cholesterol are galore. But before you start on an exercise and diet program, it is essential to understand the function of cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a substance which is made naturally by our body, and is processed from the food that we eat. It has a waxy texture and is feared because it gets deposited on the walls of the arteries. This makes the passage of the arteries thinner, reducing the free flow of blood. In extreme cases, the arteries, which supply blood to the heart, become totally blocked, and this leads to a heart attack. In some cases, the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the brain get blocked, leading to a stroke.

But two essential things must be remembered. Firstly, the body needs some amount of cholesterol to function properly. The problems arise only when you consume too much of it in your food.

Secondly, all cholesterol is not harmful. While one is definitely the ‘bad’ kind, which affects us in a negative way, there is also ‘good cholesterol’, which actually plays an important role by clearing out the bad kind from the walls of the arteries. The ‘bad cholesterol’ is known as Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), while the ‘good’ one is known as High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).

How to lower high cholesterol?

Proper diet and exercise can easily lower cholesterol. When you are looking for a good cholesterol lowering exercise, keep yoga in mind. Yoga postures have been found to be extremely effective as an exercise to lower cholesterol.

Yoga for Cholesterol

Yoga is very helpful in helping you lower your bad cholesterol, and control it thereafter. Its action is two-fold. Firstly, yoga provides exercise, which helps to reduce the level of cholesterol. Bad cholesterol builds up if you have excess fat in your body, and this in turn happens due to a faulty lifestyle and when you do not get sufficient physical activity. So by providing exercise and a good lifestyle, yoga teaches you how to lower bad cholesterol.

Lack of bad cholesterol is also associated with a rise in stress levels in the body. High stress levels trigger certain glands and hormones, which lead to the production of greater levels of cholesterol. Yoga and pranayama reduce stress levels. They calm the mind and encourage production of good hormones, which in turn leads to reduction of cholesterol.

The following poses are helpful in controlling in this regard:
  • Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
  • Peacock Pose (Mayurasana)
  • Plough Pose (Halasana)
  • Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
  • Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
  • Hero Pose (Virasana)
  • Boat Pose (Navasana)
Along with this, you must also do the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) and Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma), Bellows (Bhastrika) and Shining Skull (Kapalbhati).

Diet control is also necessary. Reduce your intake of fatty products and increase your intake of fiber-rich foods.