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Can Yoga Asanas Lower Triglycerides

by
author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Can Yoga Asanas Lower Triglycerides
Yoga can be part of an overall plan to lower triglycerides. Photo Credit Michael Blann/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Having a high level of triglycerides increases the risk of heart disease and having a heart attack or stroke. Bringing triglyceride levels down means making healthy lifestyle choices, such as getting regular exercise, eating healthy, losing excess weight and managing stress. For some patients, medication is also required to prevent complications. Yoga and the physical postures, or asanas, it teaches can also play a role in lowering triglyceride levels. However, high triglyceride levels can be a serious problem, so it is always best to speak with a health-care provider about the best treatment approach based on personal health.

Identification

Triglycerides are a form of fat that circulates in the bloodstream. They are created when more calories are eaten then the body needs right away. The excess calories are converted to triglycerides and taken to fat cells to be stored, states the American Heart Association. When the body needs them for energy, hormones signal the fat cells to release them. However, if the level of triglycerides in the body gets too high, plaque can build up along the blood vessel walls. This causes the blood vessels to become hard and narrow, which restricts blood flow. When blood flow is restricted, blood pressure can rise and the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases. To prevent complications, triglyceride levels should be kept below 150 mg/dL. The main treatment for high triglyceride levels is lifestyle changes.

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Weight Loss

Since high triglyceride levels or hypertriglyceridemia is caused by consuming too many calories, the first step is to lose excess weight through cutting back on calories consumed and exercising to burn calories off. Since 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories, to lose 1 pound per week it would be necessary to create a daily deficit of 500 calories. Aerobic exercise such as biking, walking and swimming burn the highest amount of calories, however, a vigorous yoga class can help as well. According to the American Council on Exercise, a slow gentle Hatha yoga class will not burn off a significant amount of calories but a more vigorous vinyasa, flow or power yoga class can burn up to 344 calories during a 50 minute practice. If on each day you also eliminated about 150 calories from your diet, it would be possible to lose 1 pound per week.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a collection of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke when they are all present at the same time. Risk factors include a waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women, blood pressure that is 130/85 mm Hg or higher, a triglyceride level above 150 mg/dl, a fasting blood glucose level greater than 100 mg/dl and a high density lipoprotein or HDL level of less than 40 mg/dl for men or 50 mg/dl for women. Having just three or more of these factors raises the risk of disease. While the exact link is not well understood, a regular yoga practice may increase insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels, including triglycerides, by as much as 19 to 25 percent. It also can reduce your percentage of body fat, reports an article on the Yoga Journal website.

Stress

Too much stress may not directly cause high triglyceride levels, but it can lead to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors that do raise triglyceride levels. A regular yoga practice can lower stress levels, which may in turn lead to quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, choosing healthier foods and curbing binge eating. If overeating is contributing to high triglyceride levels, it is important to identify the underlying behaviors or emotions that trigger it. Instead of using food to deal with anxiety, boredom or other emotions, try a few deep breaths, a gentle yoga practice or a meditation technique to calm the body and mind. Since there are many forms of yoga and meditation, it is important to try several classes and techniques to find the right fit.

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References

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