Did you know that yoga practice can lower the levels of free fatty acids, cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood stream when combined with pranayama? Since high lipid levels can increase your risk for heart disease, moving AND breathing should form an important component of a preventative maintenance program that includes proper diet, stress reducing lifestyle choices, and mental relaxation techniques.
Not sure of where to start? Give these two exercises a try!
The Breath of Equal Duration: (Sama Vrtti Pranayam)
Find a comfortable seated position. Sit up tall and close your eyes. Slowly begin to modulate the overall length of your breath by inhaling to a slow count of four. Fill your lungs completely, and then exhale to a count of four and empty your lungs all the way. Once this begins to feel comfortable, expand the count to 5:5, 8:8, etc. as appropriate.
At first practice the Breath of Equal Duration for two minutes at a time. Work up to five minute sessions as you become more comfortable with the practice.
The Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhatti Pranayam)
**This breath is contraindicated for expectant mothers.
This exercise consists of quick rounds of exhales taken through the nose. To begin, inhale to your fullest capacity. Exhale half of your air. Once the lungs have emptied halfway, press a quick burst of air out through your nose by pressing your belly muscles quickly downward and inward. To inhale, relax your belly and let your lungs effortlessly fill to the halfway point again. Practice repeating this cycle of active exhales and passive inhales at a slow rate until you get the hang of it. With practice, you can take approximately one exhale per second.
Repeat twenty five to fifty times. Build up to three rounds of fifty repetitions.
*For associated research on this topic, see :The Impact Of Pranayama And Yoga On Lipid Profile In Normal Healthy Volunteers.” JEP online 2006;9(1):1-6
Have a happy practice!