From chronic pain to chronic disease, yoga offers a healthy and natural way to address many common health problems. If you are looking for a new way to tackle one of the following health issues without the use of medications, give these asanas a try. You will quickly discover the healing power of yoga and find an alternative way to cope with these and many other common ailments.
Thyroid problems are on the rise. This is in part due to improved testing, which results in a more accurate diagnosis, and in part due to increased prevalence of triggers which lead to the emergence of thyroid problems. People with thyroid disorders struggle with fatigue, weight gain, muscle pain, tension and mood alterations. These yoga poses stimulate the thyroid gland and help increase blood flow to the area, which can improve thyroid health. (Learn more in Mind-Body Health and Happiness.)
Laying on your back, reach your feet straight up toward the ceiling. Allow your feet to fall behind you, reaching for the ground. It's okay if your feet don’t touch, you will still be getting the benefit. Rest here and breathe.
Begin in plow pose as described above. Move your hands so that they are pushing into your lower back for support. When you’re ready, straighten your legs straight up toward the ceiling. The goal here is to have your legs and torso in one long straight line. To exit the pose, bend your knees, return to plow pose, and gently lower yourself one vertebrae at a time until you’re lying flat on your yoga mat.
Many people do not realize that tension in the neck and upper back is one of the most common culprits of headaches. This type of tension may be from slouching over a desk, poor posture, or a result of anxiety and stress. These asanas work to stretch out the tight muscles in the back and neck and increase blood flow to the brain. (Learn how Relieving Muscle Pain and Tension with Breath can also add to your healing practice.)
Enter into a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Inhale and reach your arms over your head, lengthening your spine toward the ceiling. As you exhale, begin to fold forward from the hips, keeping your back straight and torso long. With your hands, reach for the outside of your feet or use a strap to get there. With each inhale, try to lengthen your spine, and with each exhale, sink deeper into the pose. Hold this for one to three minutes.
This is a modified version of garudasana (eagle pose) that can be done seated or standing and releases tension in the shoulders. From a seated or standing position, hold your arms out straight in front of your body. Cross your left arm under your right and bend your elbows toward your face. Continue twisting the left arm around the right until your hands meet in a prayer position. Breathe here and then switch sides.
Yoga eases digestive problems through breathing techniques, twisting to massage intestinal organs and release toxins, and through targeted stretches for the abdominal muscles. Twists are especially effective at stimulating the digestive system. During a twist, we compress important digestive organs, and the release that follows increases blood flow to the area, thereby aiding digestion.
Begin seated with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left leg in toward your chest and cross it over your right, placing your left foot next to the outer right thigh. Inhale to lengthen your spine and, as you exhale, twist to the left, reaching your left hand behind you and putting your palm on the floor. Your right elbow will hook on the outside of your left knee and you can use this pressure to help you to deepen the stretch. Breathe here and then switch sides.
Everyone experiences anxiety at one point or another. Whether you are a sufferer of chronic anxiety or you find yourself only occasionally stressed, there are many great yoga asanas that can help. Some of the best poses to address anxiety are ones that help you to calm the mind through relaxation and breathing techniques. When people are suffering from anxiety, they are facing an onslaught of negative thoughts and often have trouble calming the mind. (Learn about Restorative Yoga: Relax and Recharge.)
This pose is not only relaxing, allowing you to focus on your breath, but it reduces tension in the neck, back, shoulders and hips. Begin on your hands and knees and bring your toes together so they’re touching. Stretch your hips back, lowering your sit bones until they’re resting on your heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you, then settle in and relax.
Your Future Health
These are just a few examples of the many ways a regular yoga practice can have a powerful effect on overall health and well-being. Practicing yoga can address chronic illness or other health conditions in a variety of ways, whether that's through poses that directly address specific problems, or a regular practice that strengthens both body and mind. Yoga is a great tool to safeguard your health for the future and heal in the present.