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5 Yoga Asanas for Staying Heart-Healthy

The heart is one of the hardest-working organs in our body. It is an organ that circulates blood and provides it to the rest of the organs. In order to stay fit, it is crucial for us to look after our heart’s health since it the organ responsible for giving us life, quite literally, by pumping blood and supplying oxygen, glucose and other nutrients to the rest of the body. However, due to the fast-paced lifestyle and the stress that accompanies it, dietary choices, and sedentary lifestyles, heart problems have become quite common. Hence, even people in their early twenties and thirties are facing heart problems

The new age problem that all of us are grappling with is stress. Our hectic lifestyles often cause stress and while we may not be able to eliminate it completely, there are things we can do to deal with it better. Stress has a huge impact on our hearts too. 

A great way to de-stress and to improve heart health is by practising Yoga regularly. Yoga and relaxation have been successfully used to check high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Yogic therapy not only reduces high blood pressure, but also reduces serum cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, blood glucose, and body weight.

In order to stay heart-healthy, we have brought you five yoga asanas that are specially recommended to improve your cardiovascular health. 

Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana which is also known as the cobra pose is an asana targeting your chest. This asana opens up your heart and lungs, can strengthen your spine, and relieve stress. This is an excellent asana to relax your muscles and to pump up blood circulation.

For this asana, you need to lie down on your stomach, place your hands close to your chest facing down, look straight and pull your body up from your hips stretching upwards along with your chest. 

Setu Bandhasana

Setu Bandhasana which is also known as the bridge pose facilitates deep breathing and opens and improves blood flow to the chest area

For this pose, you need to lay down on your back, place your arms near your hips and palms down. Bend your knees bringing your heels as close to your sitting bones as possible. Now, place your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Exhale, pressing down through your feet and hands while lifting your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Firm your buttocks and tilt your tailbone up to lengthen your lower back. To deepen the pose, roll your shoulders under and clasp your hands as you press your sternum toward your chin, and broaden your shoulder blades. This will help you release all the tension near your chest, shoulders and lower back. 

Ustrasana

     Ustrasana or camel pose directly targets your lungs by opening up the chest, shoulders and spine. The camel pose also helps in building flexibility and improving blood circulation.

To practise the camel pose,  you need to kneel on the floor or on a yoga mat. If your knees are sensitive, kneel on extra padding. Make sure your knees are hip-width apart and thighs are perpendicular to the floor. The soles of your feet should face upward, toenails touching the floor. Place your palms on your hips and try to keep your outer hips as softly as possible. Breathe deeply and use your hands to lengthen your back pelvis and draw the tailbone towards the pubis. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing your shoulder blades to the back of your ribs. 

Mandukasana

Mandukasana, which is also known as the frog pose, comes with many benefits but one of the most important benefits is improving cardiovascular health. Practising Mandukasana regularly is said to help to reduce the risk of heart-related problems like high blood pressure. 

To do this asana, you need to lie down on the floor or on a yoga mat. The next step is to slowly move the knees out on each side, keeping feet and ankles in the same line as the knees. Later, gently put the elbows and forearms on the floor, with palms flat down. Firmly bring the hips backwards and hold for a maximum of three minutes while focusing on your breathing. Practising Mandukasana allows you to put pressure on your chest and helps in opening up the chest muscles by improving the blood circulation and reducing strain from the blood vessels. This makes your heart stronger.

Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar is one of the most well-known and commonly practised yoga asanas of all time which is actually a series of 12 yoga poses. By practising Surya Namaskar, you can improve your cardiovascular health. 

Practise these yoga asanas regularly to keep yourself heart-healthy. If you have any heart-related troubles, consult your doctor before including any new exercises into your routine. These five asanas specifically focus on your chest and help you strengthen it. 

Yoga is just one of the many new heart-healthy habits that you can begin that can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases in the long run. Want more suggestions on how you can change your lifestyle for the better? Read about more heart-healthy habits that you can start today.

Disclaimer: This publication/ article is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional or certified Yoga Instructor before including any new exercises in their routine. 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.037137 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573539/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21665111/ 

https://juniperpublishers.com/jyp/pdf/JYP.MS.ID.555726.pdf 

https://www.sarvyoga.com/mandukasana-frog-pose-steps-and-benefits/

https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/health-and-wellness/20-postures-healthy-heart

https://biyome.com.au/yoga/asana-manual/bhujangasana/

 

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General

Heart-Healthy Makar Sankranti Festive Recipes To Try Out This Season

It’s the onset of the New Year and with that, we mark the end of winter. This is the time of the year when we welcome a new beginning by bringing in the harvest season. The harvest festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated across the country and it is also popularly known as Pongal in the South, and Lohri up North. This calls for some Makar Sankranti healthy recipes.

The festival is considered an auspicious day dedicated to peace and prosperity, and celebrated by making some delicious dishes for the occasion. Harvest festival food is typically organic, whole foods like cereals, pulses and other such ingredients which are good for your heart.

Here are some special Makar Sankranti recipes for you to make the most of the harvest season by literally reaping the (health) benefits of what has been sowed.

Pongal Special: Ven Pongal

Nutrient Metre: Also known as ‘tilgud’, sesame and jaggery ladoos are one of the most popularly distributed Makar Sankranti dishes. What’s great is that “til” is a heart-healthy ingredient.

Sesame seeds have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties. They also have antioxidant properties and the ability to lower cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The other ingredient, jaggery has beneficial nutritional properties such as antioxidants, which makes it a great substitute for sugar.

Serves: 10 pieces

Ingredients to Use for Til Ladoo

  • ½ cup powdered jaggery or 100 grams grated jaggery
  • ¼ cup coconut, desiccated
  • ⅓ cup white sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder, grounded
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold oil

Preparation for Ingredients

  • In a pan, add white sesame seeds on low flame and roast until they pop and change colour, but don’t let them brown. Make sure to keep stirring. Once done, keep aside.
  • Next, add peanuts to the pan and dry roast on low heat, until they have a crunch with some black markings on them. Keep aside and allow to cool.
  • Add desiccated coconut to the same pan and roast until light or golden brown. Keep aside.
  • To make the ingredients come together, use a grinder to crush the peanuts finely once they have cooled, and mix with the roasted coconuts and sesame seeds.
  • Finally, add cardamom powder to the mix.
  • Blend everything together and keep aside.

Preparation for Jaggery Syrup 

  • To make the jaggery syrup, using the same pan, add the powdered jaggery or grated jaggery along with some water and keep on low flame. Stir until the jaggery and water mix together. Let it simmer on low heat until bubbles start to appear.
  • To know when your syrup is ready, fill up some water in a separate bowl and add a small portion of the jaggery mix from the pan into the water. If the consistency of the jaggery mix is sticky/pasty that allows you to roll it into ladoos, the syrup is ready.

Preparation for Til Ladoo

  • Finally, to prepare the tilgud, turn off the heat and smoothly blend in the mix of sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, crushed peanuts and cardamom powder that we had kept aside.
  • Start to mould the ladoos while the mix is still warm. Covering your hands in a few drops of oil can help with the moulding.
  • Keep aside in an airtight jar at room temperature, and relish this Sankranti-special food.

 

 

No matter which of the names you celebrate the harvest season with, there are a variety of Makar Sankranti healthy recipes for everyone to savour as we celebrate a New Year, a day full of peace, prosperity, and some delicious food!

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29039970/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Nuts-and-seeds

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/1/278/4576571?login=true

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188421/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8314846/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24493081/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127822/