Yoga is the solution to all heart problems. We all practice a few asanas that can reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, Yoga is not the cure for all heart diseases and has its own limitations. Below are few questions often asked from an Interventional Cardiologist on which asanas to avoid:
Q 1: If I have been diagnosed with heart disease. Which are the yoga poses to avoid?
You should avoid poses that makes your heart work rigorously. Try to avoid inverted poses as the heart pumps blood against gravity to supply it to your legs and hands, thereby exerting more pressure. Here a few yoga asanas that you should refrain from:
- Chakrasana (Wheel pose): It is a backend pose that requires immense strength and a synchronized breathing pattern. Practising this pose can put a lot of a pressure on your heart, causing the heart to pump blood faster.
- Halasana (Plough pose): In this type of a pose you lie on your back, lift your legs and put them behind your back. This causes heart to circulate blood to your lower body with pressure as it is acting against gravity.
- Karnapirasana (Ear closing pose): In this asana, the legs are attached to the ground with knees closer to ears. This position is more similar to halasana, as there is more exertion on the heart.
- Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand): When suffering from heart disease, this asana should be completely avoided as it requires standing on your shoulders with pressure completely on the upper body. This makes the heart work harder against gravity for circulation of blood.
- Sirshasana (Head stand): Sirshasana is an inverted position, where the body is held upright with the support of arms and head touching the floor. As the legs are in a horizontal position, the heart exerts pressure to pump blood to the lower body.
- Viparita Karani (Simple inverted pose): In this asana, you lie on your back, lift your legs and hips and support them with your hands. A person who is at a risk of developing heart attack should not practice as this puts a strain on your heart to circulate blood to lower body.
Q 2: Is it safe to do PRANAYAM ?
Below are few generalized precautions before starting pranayama.
- If you have any chronic medical condition, seek advice from your doctor.
- Always breathe through the nose unless specifically asked to do so.
- There should not be any strain during pranayama practice. Lungs are delicate organ; ensure that your breathing is not forced beyond limits.
- Do not make loud sounds during breathing. Keep the breath rhythmic and steady.
- Pranayama should not be practiced immediately after meals. You can do pranayama at least three hours after meals.
- Beginners should not hold breath. When you become comfortable with basics of pranayama, learn to hold breath under the guidance of an expert teacher.
- If you feel tired or discomfort, stop doing pranayama, lie down in shavasana while carrying out normal breathing. Consult your yoga teacher.
- Do not practice pranayama if you are too tired, relax for 10-15 minutes in shavasana before doing pranayama.
- If you do yoga asanas and pranayama, practice yoga asanas before pranayama. After practicing asanas, relax in shavasana before doing pranayama. Do not do any strenuous exercise after pranayama.
- Pranayama should not be practiced in a hurry.
- Do pranayama outdoors or in a well ventilated room.
- Pranayama should not be practiced when the lungs are congested.
People who are suffering from heart disease, high BP or hernia should refrain from practicing "Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayama". If you are practicing Kapalabhati, exhalation must be gentle for the beginners, do not use excessive force. "Shitkari Pranayama" is not meant for people having low blood pressure and it should not be practiced during winters. People with hernia, high BP and stomach surgery should not practice "Agnisar Pranayama".