By Faye Martins
Once you become a Yoga teacher, every person with a medical condition wants to find an alternative remedy for their problem. Varicose veins can be caused by a variety of problems, but much of what you learned in your initial Yoga instructor training will help.
According to statistics published by the Vascular Disease Foundation, as many as 25 million Americans have varicose veins. These unsightly bulges often appear after pregnancy and are usually a result of weak veins or ineffective valve function. Because veins work against gravity, blood pools in the extremities and puts pressure on the vascular system, creating problems for people who stand for long periods of time.
Physical exercises that squeeze arm and leg muscles help to relieve symptoms, and Yoga poses can bring relief. Inversions, especially, ease pressure on the veins by raising the legs above the heart. As with all exercises and health-related concerns, a doctor’s approval and guidance from an experienced Yoga instructor are crucial for any new practice.
Therapeutic Asanas for Varicose Veins
• Elevated Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is one of the easier inversions and a classic posture for boosting circulation. It also helps to prevent and relieve varicose veins by opening the hips.
• Seated forward bends stretch the hamstrings and relieve pain caused by varicose veins.
• Shoulder stands allow stale blood to flow from the arms and legs back to the heart, reducing strain on the veins. Some instructors recommend this pose as the single most effective posture for relieving discomfort caused by varicose veins.
• Headstands, although contraindicated in some circumstances, are considered to be the most beneficial posture in a Yoga training session. By forcing the blood to return to the heart, headstands help to prevent varicose veins.
• Cow Face Pose stretches the hips, ankles and shoulders, promotes circulation and drains blood and lymph away from the legs and back to the heart.
• Reclining Hero Pose, while not recommended for people with knee problems, relieves tired legs, improves circulation in the lower body and stretches the ankles, knees and hips.
• Corpse Pose is a resting posture that promotes total relaxation and aligns the heart with the rest of the body. It is contraindicated during the third trimester of pregnancy. However, if you need to modify, a prenatal Yoga instructor specialist will be happy to go over all the modifications with you.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
In addition to these specific asanas, the practice of controlled breathing relaxes muscles and calms the autonomic nervous system, reducing vascular pressure and lowering heart rate. Recommended poses and breathing exercises vary depending on individual experience and degree of symptoms. As you should have learned in your foundational yoga teacher training, most of the recommended asanas for varicose veins are inversions which are contraindicated for high blood pressure, stroke recovery, eye problems, and heart conditions.
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