The word 'Yoga' immediately reminds one about the rich ancient culture of India. The word yoga in Sanskrit means "to unite", the amalgamation of body, mind and soul. Meaning yoga is an exercise in moral and mental nurturing that generates good health (arogya), contributes to longevity (chirayu), and the total process results into positive and persistent happiness and peace. It not only affects the conscious self but the subconscious as well. Many people have lot of misconceptions about yoga, lot of people perceive it to be a dangerous practice, a kind of mental and physical acrobatics that is compatible only to a Hindu mind. But yoga is an all-embracing way of life. It is applicable to all people irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, and religion. A person may start practicing at any age and can go on reaping its benefits.
Types of Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga :
Ashtanga Yoga is one of the oldest kinds of yoga. This branch of yoga has been mentioned in the Patanjali, a Sanskrit verse book. This type of yoga has 8 branches, which is why it is called Ashtanga yoga. It includes processes such as yoga positions, postures, breathing, concentration on objects, withdrawal of senses, meditation etc. The main benefit of this kind of yoga is the fact that it is supposed to purify the body and the mind at the same time and it is recommended for those people who are looking for a branch of yoga that would let them become physically and mentally fit as well. The well- known sun salutations or the "Surya Namaskara" form a part of this type of yoga.
Fig.2. Surya Namaskara Step by Step
Hatha Yoga :
Hatha Yoga is all about promoting the spiritual and mental well- being of a person. It consists of asana, that is followed by the six shatkarmas. Both these put together form the physical and mental detox. It also includes Pranayama, bandhas, which are spiritual awakening and energy revealing practices. Hatha yoga is done in combination, by combining all these practices.
Prana refers to the universal life force and ayama means to regulate or lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath. These techniques rely on breathing through the nostrils. The Pranayama helps in spiritual awakening, which would definitely help a person lead a healthier and happier life, mentally and emotionally.
Mantra Yoga :
Mantra Yoga is the type of yoga that is practiced through the chanting of mantras. Thousands of mantras exist and it is believed that the vibrations released by these mantras can really help a person achieve their dreams and even cure diseases.
Bhakti Yoga :
This branch of yoga is based completely on faith and belief. While practicing yoga, it is generally suggested that the person place their faith and belief on some supreme power such as God or any higher consciousness. One of the most important prerequisite for doing this kind of yoga is to be actually interested in it and invested in it.
The biggest benefit of practicing Bhakti Yoga, out of all types of yoga is the fact that this can help cure a person's mental and emotional problems in such a way that their relationships with other people can also be improved.
Jnana Yoga : This kind of yoga is something related to the knowledge and the wisdom derived from practicing yoga. It is the tradition that is used to achieve meditative strength and wisdom as well. In Jnana yoga, a person derives his knowledge and his awareness through meditation. Meditation will help the person introspect and find rational answers to all questions that plague the body and mind.
Kriya Yoga :
This type of yoga focuses on bodily activities or physical activities. It's main intention is also to achieve inner peace and realization, but it does not really do much to calm mental tension or issues. Kriya yoga is a kind of yoga that would help people maintain some amount of physical fitness or even lose weight. There are around 70 kriyas that are a part of this kind of yoga, but only 20 of them are commonly known and practiced by people- for they are the ones that are the easier ones.
Swara Yoga : This is also not a popular kind of yoga, but it is highly important. Swara, in Sanskrit means a sound or a note. Yoga means union. So the combination of Swara and Yoga depicts a cosmic consciousness through which people can learn how to control their breath and thus lead a better life.
Kundalini Yoga :
Kundalini Yoga is one of the most practiced branches of yoga. It deals with the psychic centers in the body or the "chakras" that are in all individuals. There are six such chakras in the body and Kundalini yoga hopes to reach all of them. Kundalini yoga believes that there are no other chakras in the body than the six main ones- the Sahasrara, Ajna, Visuddhi, Anahata, Manipura, Swadishtana and Mooladhara. These are the chakras that connect us to the realms of our mind and heighten our consciousness. The Kundalini yoga concept says that all these chakras can be awakened if there six centres are awakened through Pranayama, bandha, asanas, mudras etc. In fact, it is suggested that people practice this kind of yoga with some other branch of yoga- such as Mantra Yoga or Swara Yoga to get the most benefits.
Kripalu Yoga :
This is the yoga that deals with the consciousness. Of all the branches of yoga, this is the most relaxed one- it is there to make sure that people release all the emotional and spiritual blockages that are stopping them from achieving their goals. As a result of this, the main focus of this kind of yoga is not getting perfect stance or procedure, as in Ashtanga yoga, but it is getting the right kind of emotion. There are three stages in this kind of yoga- learning the postures and your body's limits, holding these postures and developing awareness of one's own self and body and the last stage is a meditative one in which the person learns how to shift from one posture to another fluidly, without disrupting their mental processes or thoughts.
Raja Yoga :
This is yoga that was initiated by the Sage Patanjali. This branch of yoga consists of eight stages, all prescribed by Patanjali. Raja Yoga is a yoga system that deals with the personality and the body. It deals in the practice of pranayama, asanas, yamas (restraint) etc. After the physical fitness of the body is achieved through asanas, this branch of yoga deals with mental and emotional benefits through pratyahara (Sensory withdrawal) and dharana (concentration). This is followed by dhyana (meditation) which finally leads to samadhi (or absorption with the universal conscience). This type of yoga is concerned with mental and physical well-being. It's basis is the fact that humans will be able to achieve spiritual fitness or emotional fitness only after their body is devoid of diseases and has become fit.
These are the traditional kinds of yoga, the ones that have been in existence for a long time now. Of course, these are just the major branches of yoga. There are many other kinds of yoga that people do practice now- yoga that has been developed by new teachers and by western influences as well- such as Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga,Power Yoga etc. But all these new kinds of yoga have been influenced by the traditional kinds of yoga.
It's a total body workout: Working out has now become synonymous with huffing and puffing away at the gym. But that is not necessarily the only way to workout. Yoga gives you all that a gym can but in a peaceful, safe and more holistic way. It stretches out the muscles in your body, gives you rock hard abs, strong arms, toned buttocks, a strong back and legs.
It will help you master breathing properly: When you perform any pose in yoga, you are taught to breathe in and out with a certain pace and manner. This repeated and controlled breathing helps supply a large amount of fresh oxygen to all parts of your body. Moreover deep breathing has been known to help fight off lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
It will calm your mind: Yoga demands that the practitioner concentrate and focus on what their body is telling them to notice their breathing pattern, concentrate on any aches and pains they might feel and calm the mind to simply concentrate on themselves.
It will improve your flexibility: Ever wanted to touch your toes with your fingers without bending your knees? Well, yoga can help with that. The practice of yoga helps the body gently regain its flexibility by stretching out the muscles of various areas without causing any harm to them.
It will help you lose weight: Practicing yoga can actually help promote mindful eating. The study found that due to the breathing techniques followed during the practice of yoga, it strengthens the mind-body connection and helps you deal with emotions that fuel stress eating. Apart from that yoga is a very effective form of exercise that can be performed even by obese people, giving them the chance to lose weight by engaging in a form of exercise that tones the entire body, fuels the metabolic system and helps burn fat leading to weight loss.
It's a great stress buster: Stress is usually thought of as an innocuous condition that can be ignored, but it can actually wreak havoc on your body. Apart from releasing harmful free radicals, it also damages the body's immunity and leaves you tired and irritable. Here's where yoga comes into the picture. Not only does it help calm the mind but also helps beat the ill effects of free radicals and helps build your immunity
It will help beat menstrual pain: Yoga is a very effective tool to help beat the pain and discomfort associated with menstruation. Not only do the poses help ease the pain by stretching out the muscles, but it also helps relieve the cramping one normally experiences. Yoga also helps to calm the mind, reduce irritation and helps the body deal with the fatigue associated with menstruation.
Improve your overall sexual health: Research has found that practicing yoga for 12 weeks continuously can improve all the aspects of sexual health.
It will help you beat migraines: Migraines and headaches are common problems in many people these days. The primary cause of migraine attacks is the lack of oxygen to the brain. Practitioners of yoga say that practising sirsasana or the headstand is known to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, which helps relieve a migraine.
Yoga for Hypertension/Neurological Disorders/Stress/ Tension:
Aana Paan& Sukha Pranayama
Yoga for Respiratory Disorders:
Yoga for Spinal Disorders:
Yoga for Endocrinal Disorders:
SELECTED YOGA ASANAS:
While inhaling, lift both the legs up to 30 degree angle from the ground. Keep the knees straight and breathe normally. While exhaling, bring the legs down. Prevents gas formation and varicose veins, strengthens the muscles of the legs, back and shoulders. Avoid in knee pain, ulcer, lumbar spondylosis, back pain and abdominal surgery.
Inhale, raise both the legs up, bend them at the knees, interlock the fingers and hold the shin bone. While exhaling, press the thighs against the abdomen. Raise the head up and touch the knee with the chin. Breathe normally. While exhaling, being the head down and release the hand. Inhale, raise the legs up and while exhaling, bring them down. Repeat. Helps in controlling constipation, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, joints pain and flatulence.
Bend the legs and keep the heels near the hips. Inhale, lift the hips and the spine up. Place the palms on the waist and support the back. Breathe normally. While exhaling, return. Strengthens chest, hips, waist, shoulders and arms. It helps in relieving back pain and respiratory disorders. It is also useful in thyroid problems.
While inhaling, raise the head, spine and legs at the angle of 30 degree, balancing the body on the buttocks. Arms stretched forward, palms facing each other, breathe normally. While exhaling, bring the body down. Maintains the navel in its position and prevents disorders. Helps in reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Improves blood circulation and tones visceral organs.
While inhaling, raise both the legs, buttock and the trunk. Support the hips on the palms. The trunk is held at 45 degree angle to the ground. Breathe normally. To return, lower the legs over the head and bring the toes on the ground. Keep the hands down and then bring the spine and legs down. The asana stimulates thyroid gland. It is useful in varicose veins, piles and menstrual disorders. Effective practice in respiratory disorders.
Lie on your back. Your feet are together and hands relaxed alongside the body. Place the hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other. Breathing in, lift the head and chest up. Keeping the chest elevated, lower the head backward and touch the top of the head to the floor. With the head lightly touching the floor, press the elbows firmly into the ground, placing the weight on the elbow and not on the head. Lift your chest up from in-between the shoulder blades. Press the thighs and legs to the floor. Hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can, taking gentle long breaths in and out. Relax in the posture with every exhalation.
Helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Provides relief from respiratory disorders by encouraging deep breathing. Tones the parathyroid, pituitary and pineal glands
Lie down on the floor on your stomach with your hands folded under the head. Place the palms on your shoulders in a relaxed way and close your eyes. Stretch the legs as far as possible. ...Relax the whole body. ...Relax in this posture for 2 - 5 minutes. Effective for low back pain. Also helps calm down the mind.
Keep the palms beside the chest. While inhaling, raise head and chest up to navel. Keep the elbows folded near the body. Breathe normally. While exhaling, bring the body down. It strengthens the heart, lungs, arms and the spine. Relieves back pain, controls diabetes, asthma and constipation.
Hold both the ankles with the hands. Inhale, life the thhighs and pull the legs back. Raise the head and chest up, tilt the head back. Support the body on the abdomen. Exhale and bring the body down. Strengthens the spinal muscles and make them flexible. Helps in asthma, diabetes, constipation, menstrual irregularities and nervous weakness.
Sit with legs stretched, bend right leg and place the foot under the right hip. Similarly bend left leg and place the foot under the left hip. Sit comfortably in between the heels. The big toes should tough each other. Keep your back erect and both palms on thighs. It improves digestion, hence one must practice after meal. Helpful for people suffering from varicose veins, piles, hyperacidity and ulcer.
Bend the right leg and place it near the left knee. Place the right palm behind on the floor. Keep the left palm on the left knee. Inhale, raise the left arm up and while exhaling hold the right ankle from the outside with the left hand. Twist the waist and move the head toward right side. Breathe normally. Inhale and return. Repeat on the opposite side. Improves the functions of the liver, pancreas, kidneys and intestine. It helps control diabetes, constipation backache and menstrual disorders.
It calms down the mind, keeps the spine erect and improves breathing and digestion
Tones the waist, strengthens the arms and stimulate the nervouse system. Regulr practice improves flexibility and prevents accumulation of fat on the waistline.
It destroys the phlegm, removes diseases of nose and lungs. It is useful for people suffering from obesity, diabetes, constipation, asthma, bronchitis and thyroid problems.
Sit in a comfortable meditative posture. Emphasize on forceful exhalation during the practice. While exhaling, contract the abdomen. The inhalation should be passive. It cleanses the respiratory tract and strengthens the nerves and digestive organs. Recommended for people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, constipation, obesity and diabetes.
Relieves mental tension, insomnia, hypertension and heart problem. Improves memory, massages the brain and the thyroid gland and helps calm down the mind.
Lie down straight on the back. Keep the feet slightly apart. Hands away from the body with palms facing upward. Gently close the eyes and relax the whole body. Concentrate on the breath. Calms down the boy and the mind, controls high blood pressure, anxiety and stress. Beneficial in heart ailments.
Research suggests that tobacco use and second-hand smoke are the primary risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. Globally around 10% of cardiovascular deaths are attributed to tobacco use.
Abstinence is the best policy
Alcohol is high in calories and known to increase blood pressure. Talk to your doctor to know more about how much alcohol can be consumed.
Stress can increase blood pressure. Incorporate a daily routine to relax and rejuvenate - try to listen to soothing music, chant, read a book or meditate/practice yoga
It is crucial to maintain ideal weight as being overweight or obese is recognized as an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. To find out your ideal weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) go to this link. A healthy, low fat diet combined with a regular exercise/yoga regime is the key to lose and maintain weight.
Reduce the intake of tea, coffee, colas and chocolate especially later in the day. Lowered caffeine intake is known to induce a better sleep during the night
Blood Pressure management
Maintaining a normal blood pressure of lower than 120/80 is important to lower the risk of further cardiovascular complications. Yoga can help to maintaining normal blood pressure
Blood Glucose management
Normal fasting glucose range is 70-100mg/dL and for diabetics it is 70-130mg/dL. After meals for non-diabetics it should be less than 125mg/dL and for diabetics, it should be less than 180mg/dL.
It is important to eat the right kind of food for a healthy heart, mind and body. For a speedy and long lasting recovery we advise you to combine positive dietary and lifestyle changes with the medical care. Post-surgery, many patients experience poor appetite. To boost your appetite, consume small portions of food - about 7-9 snacks/meals throughout the day. Nausea is another common complaint that could be caused due to medications.Take the prescribed medicines on full stomach. Consult your doctor if nausea persists.
A day's meal comprises of several food items. Generally, all food items can be classified into six major groups (5) as shown in the Healthy Heart pyramid.(6)
Immediate Diet Plan
Include lots of fresh, seasonal, local and if possible organic Fruits and Vegetables in your daily diet.
Add plenty of Whole Grains (whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole beans).
Choose foods high in Good Fat such as olive oil, peanut oil, fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds. If you do not eat fish, talk to your doctor about taking fish supplements.
Instead of whole milk, choose low fat or skim milk.
Include food sources rich in Magnesium and Potassium to increase heart health.
Say NO to all Sugary and Refined foods (cakes, pastries) and do not add any sugar to beverages.
Avoid Unhealthy Fats such as Cholesterol, Saturated and Trans Fat. Stay away from egg yolks, cream, butter, ghee, coconut, deep fried items, whole milk, dalda, vanspati.
No Carbonated, Caffeinated and Alcoholic beverages.
Curb Salt intake, as it can increase blood pressure. Don't add salt while cooking and reduce packaged food consumption.
Refer to DASH diet.(7)
Sample Diet Plan
Below is a sample Diet Plan for a patient who has undergone angioplasty. Make sure to check the correct portion sizes for each food item by going to these links.(8), (9), (10)
Talk to you doctor or dietician about any restrictions on fluid or water intake. Do not add SALT or SUGAR while cooking or as seasoning. For cooking, use only Olive Oil.
- 1 Cup lukewarm water with 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1 Cup Dahlia, porridge made with Skim Milk OR 1 Moong Dal Dosa(Recipe) OR 1 Ragi Dosa (Recipe)
- 1 medium Apple ?OR medium Orange OR 1/2 Cup pomegranate seeds
Early Morning Snack
- 1 Cup boiled Sweet potatoes, sprinkled with lemon juice OR 1 Cup Brown rice Poha with low fat yoghurt
- 1 Cup Coconut water (discardthe "malai")
- 2 dried apricots and 1 whole walnut OR 2 dried figs and 2 almonds (unsalted)
- 1 large bowl of Salad (carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes and onions)
(Dressing is important , use - Olive oil, lemon juice and pepper)
- 1 Whole wheat / Multigrain phulka OR Jowari Roti
- 2 Ragi Biscuits OR 2 Unsweetened Oatmeal Biscuits
- 1/2 Cup Brown rice with 1 Cup Mixed vegetable sambar OR 1 Cup Brown rice Khichadi with 1 small bowl Raita
- 1 Cup cabbage curry OR steamed Cauliflower curry OR Karela curry
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
Late Night Snack
- 1/2 Cup cubed Papaya OR Musk melon
Life Long Instructions
It is never too late to adapt a healthy lifestyle.
Maintain a balanced diet and perform regular physical activity. Eat foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Avoid foods high sodium content. If overweight or obese, loose the extra kilos and maintain a healthy weight. Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol. Check your blood pressure and blood glucose regularly.