Yoga Asanas for Common Ailments
Hitting the yoga mat can help ease, and in some cases, completely eradicate many common health conditions. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, try these yoga postures to help alleviate these problems before turning to or as a complement to your prescription meds (which often make things worse in the long run).
There's definitely something to the "happy yogi." A study from Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital found that people who did one hour of asanas — a sequence of standing, sitting, balancing and lying down — raised their levels of the brain chemical GABA by 27 percent (low levels are linked with depression).
Anytime you’re feeling down, try these asanas:
- Mountain pose (with arms overhead)
- Downward-facing dog
- Child's pose
If there’s one thing I recommend to all my clients for back pain, it’s the cobra series in yoga. They involve lying on the floor and lifting your arms, legs, feet and chest in different sequences. This not only is a great way to create mega strength in your back muscles, but also to counteract the hours spent in a seated position.
If you’ve ever heard of the “sitting disease” then you know what devastating effects sitting for too long can have on the entire back (lower back in particular). We’re mostly standing or sitting and forget the other directions the spine is supposed to move -- back bends, twisting and side-to-side. These asanas should be done everyday to prevent back pain:
- Cobra pose
- Bow pose
- Spinal twist
- Crescent moon (variation of urdhva hastasana)
According to a 2011 study, participants who regularly engaged in yoga practices had fewer PMS symptoms as well as fewer menstrual disorders and cycle irregularities.
With the yoga participants, ‘72 percent of women had less irritability, mood swings, and depression. 57 percent of women had less painful periods. 87 percent showed improvement in severe menstrual flow. 63 percent of women had a reduced need for medical intervention during their periods.’
In another study in 2013, the women that practiced yoga in a study group "showed significant reduction in stress, depression, flow severity, blood pressure, and other common symptoms of PMS."
Use these postures for symptoms associated with PMS:
- Child’s Pose
- Wind Removing Pose
- Seated Twist
This condition is more prevalent in women than men, and the scary thing is most don’t even know they have it. Some of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism are:
- sudden weight gain (often without eating more than usual)
- hair loss
- swelling of the face or throat
- irregular menstrual cycle
Yoga is known to directly balance the endocrine system and can treat hypothyroidism. Here are some great poses to try:
- One-legged Forward Bend
- Fish Pose
- Plow Pose
- Sun Salutation
How to get in to yoga.
The best way to learn yoga and give it a serious shot is to take at least a couple months of classes to start. Not only will you need a skilled teacher to "show you the ropes" and correct your alignment, but it will also help you stay motivated (practicing with other more advanced yogis!).
Search for a well-rated studio or get recommendations from friends for a good instructor. Taking a class is superior to trying to learn yoga at home. There are huge benefits to learning from a certified yoga instructor (as opposed to a DVD).
- You learn how to do the asanas (moves) correctly.
- You connect with a conscious, loving community.
- Going to a class costs money, but most studios have great deals for unlimited classes for a month or year (so worth it!).
A big reason people from all walks of life do yoga is it's a way to get "calm" for about an hour a day. Us urbanites need this escape from the rat race to just be. It will also benefit those around you ... everyone will appreciate the kinder, more peaceful you.