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Yoga To Handle Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, refers to a number of conditions that occur simultaneously and increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. According to the Journal of Diabetes, 32.4% of women had metabolic syndrome in the USA in 2010. This was a considerable increase from 23.7% in 2002.

It is a phrase that describes a pre-diabetic state that includes symptoms such as:

Yoga: as a Tool

Dr. R.P. Agrawal, of the SP Medical College, Bikaner, India, and colleagues evaluated the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation in 101 adults who showed symptoms of metabolic syndrome. In the study, 55 adults received three months of regular yoga including standard stress management yoga poses and a form of transcendental meditation daily. During that time they continued to receive their standard care.  The results show that yoga is anti-aging, lowers blood pressure, and is beneficial for treating metabolic syndrome x. Waist circumference, blood sugar, and triglycerides were significantly lower, and “good” HDL cholesterol levels were higher in the yoga group as compared to controls.

Restorative yoga may also help overweight adults with metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. A study at Department of General Internal Medicine at the University of California San Francisco examined the effects of restorative yoga on 26 under active, overweight adults who exhibited signs of metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess body fat around the midsection. The participants, who attended 15 yoga sessions lasting 90 minutes each a 10-week period, demonstrated reduced blood pressure, a significant increase in energy levels, lower stress levels and an overall improvement in well-being. Study authors concluded that restorative yoga is a “feasible and acceptable intervention” in overweight adults with metabolic syndrome.

 Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, a professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, said it is well known that psychological stress has a profound effect on many biological functions. ”  According to the investigators, the etiology of metabolic syndrome is complex, but psychological stress appears to play a role, possibly through over-activation of stress hormones.

Yoga Asanas for Metabolic Syndrome

Judith Hanson Lasater—who helped design the yoga program used in a study of yoga and  metabolic syndrome at the University of California at San Francisco—recommends the
following poses.

Reclining Twist with a Bolster

Sit on the floor with your right hip close to the end of the bolster. Bend your knees and slide your feet to the left so the outside of your right leg rests on the floor. You can rest your left leg on the right one, or you can open the space between them. Turn to your right and put your hands on the floor, one on either side of the bolster. Gently press your hands into the floor to lengthen the front of your body. Then bend your elbows and lower yourself onto the bolster. Place your arms comfortably on the floor. Stay for a minute and a half. Switch sides.

Elevated Legs-up-the-Wall Pose

Place the long side of a bolster parallel to a wall, leaving 6 to 10 inches between the wall and the bolster. Place a single-fold blanket on the floor at a 90-degree angle to the middle of the long side of the bolster. Sit on one end of the bolster with the length of it behind you and one shoulder near the wall. Roll back and swing your legs up the wall. Your legs should be almost vertical, your pelvis supported by the bolster, and your shoulders and head on the floor. Cover your eyes; stay for up to 15 minutes.

Basic Relaxation

Give yourself enough floor space to spread out. Before you lie down, position a standard-fold blanket for your head and neck to rest on. Begin by sitting on the floor. Now turn to one side and lean on your elbow and forearm as you slide onto your side. Roll onto your back. (Coming into the pose in this way is easier on your back.) Roll the long edge of your blanket slightly to support the curve of the neck. Place two rolled blankets under your knees and cover yourself with a blanket. Your chin should be slightly lower than your forehead. Cover your eyes; stay for 5 to 20 minutes.

Reclining Supported Pose

Place a yoga block on the floor and prop the end of a bolster on it. Add a single-fold blanket on one end to support your head. Next, roll two blankets into one roll and place it nearby. Place two more rolled blankets on either side of the bolster to support each elbow and forearm. Sit in front of the short side of your bolster with your tailbone pressing the bolster. Bend your knees and place the large blanket roll under them. Lean back and rest your torso on the bolster and your head on the single-fold blanket. Make sure your chin is lower than your forehead. Let your legs and feet roll out and the heels rest on the floor. Place your forearms on the blankets at your sides,  palms up. Close your eyes and cover them; stay for at least 10 minutes.

After one feels comfortable with asana practice, they can go further with these suggested asanas:

Sun salutationboat posehalf spinal twist, forward bending, inclined plane, thunderbolt , lotus, shoulder standplough, wind relieving, abdominal crunch, twist, locust,bow, reverse boat, plank, triangle, twisted side-angle pose, squat, and chair pose.

Lastly, finish off with Pranayama repeating it for 1 to 3 for three to ten times, based on your convenience. After Pranayama, sit in the same place, for at least five minutes. During which time, prayer/meditation using mudra for manipura (navel) chakra.

Yoga therapy is one of the preventive methods of the metabolic syndrome. Yoga therapy is proven to help relieve the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It is a total health system for patients with metabolic syndrome.


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