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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/

 

Categories
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: Of the pongal recipes, ven pongal is one of the most popular foods and is healthy too. It has whole grains like legumes and nuts which are heart friendly/heart healthy. So try to include these in your diet. A balanced diet can help keep your heart healthy.

Serves: 3 people

Ingredients to Use for Ven Pongal

For Pressure Cooker:

  • ½ cup rice
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 3 to 3.25 cups water
  • Salt to taste

For Tempering:

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns whole or crushed, you can also add ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 small to medium curry leaves
  • 10 cashews, diced in half
  • 2tbsp ghee
  • 1tbsp Saffola Gold oil

Preparation for Ven Pongal

Moong Dal and Rice

  • In a pan, add moong dal and roast on low flame until you can smell the aroma, without having to brown them. Keep aside in a separate bowl and add rice. Rinse both with water and drain.
  • Take a pressure cooker and add the rice along with the moong dal. Then, mix in the cumin seeds, asafetida (hing), ginger, and salt to taste.
  • Add 3 cups of water and let it sit in the pressure cooker on medium flame for approximately 7 to 8 whistles.
  • Once the pressure settles down, lift the lid to check for consistency. The rice and moong dal should be of a smooth texture. Once done, keep aside with the lid on.

Tempering

  • Take a separate pan in which to heat 2 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp Saffola oil. Add cumin seeds until they pop.
  • Next, add cashews and heat until light golden. Then, sprinkle in black peppercorns and the curry leaves. Mix everything together until the curry leaves are crisp.

Preparing Ven Pongal

  • Finally, to combine everything and make the Ven Pongal, blend the tempered mix along with the pongal mix thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on the pan and let it sit for 5 to 6 minutes to get the most of the flavours and aroma.
  • Serve hot.

Note: Some people also prefer to serve Pongal recipes such as ven Pongal with coconut chutney and sambar, adding to the goodness of the dish.

Lohri Special: Pindi Channe

Nutrient Metre: Consuming chickpeas may help offset the development and progression of several health concerns like cardiovascular, type-2 diabetes, etc. and promote healthier functional outcomes like weight management.

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients to Use for Pindi Chana

  • 1½ cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2 tea bags
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate, dried
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp amchur
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp Saffola Gold Oil
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 green chillies, slit
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Preparation for Pindi Chana

  • In a frying pan, empty the soaked chana and add the tea bags. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and discard the tea bags.
  • Next, to prepare the chana masala, roast the dried pomegranates, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and amchur in a separate pan.
  • Then, heat two tbsp Saffola Gold Oil in the pan, add one portion of the cumin seeds and saute.
  • Add the chopped onions in the mix and saute until they turn golden.
  • To define the main flavour essence, add the red chilli powder, ginger and garlic paste, coriander powder, turmeric powder to taste, cumin powder, and continue to saute.
  • Now, bring back the pan with the boiled chana and mix. Add salt to taste.
  • To pump up the flavours, even more, heat one tbsp Saffola Gold Oil in a pan and add the remaining cumin seeds and tomatoes to the mix. Go on to include some salt and green chillies. Stir everything together.
  • Mash the tomatoes lightly, dilute with some water and cook for two minutes.
  • Empty the chana and its masala from the other pan into this pan and top it up with garam masala.
  • Blend everything together and let it cook for twenty minutes on low heat.
  • Serve hot and indulge in your feast.

Makar Sankranti Special: Til Ladoo

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/