Iron is an essential element for blood production. About 70 percent of your body’s iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin plays an important role in transferring oxygen in your blood from the lungs to the tissues.
Generally, the signs of low hemoglobin include dizziness, headache, fatigue, and a feeling of tiredness. Sometimes, it can also be tough to concentrate. And while not many associate yoga with hemoglobin, yoga and pranayama or breathing exercises can indeed help increase the hemoglobin in your blood.1 Did you know most anemic patients are advised to start their yoga sessions with pranayama?
1. Shitali Pranayama
- Sit comfortably cross-legged and with both hands on the knees.
- Stick your tongue out, folding both sides of the tongue like a tube.
- Inhale deeply through the tube made with your tongue.
- After inhalation, close your mouth and exhale through your nostrils.
- This can also be done by clenching your teeth and inhaling if you are unable to roll your tongue.
- This pranayama is not advisable for those having low blood pressure.
- Heart and asthma patients should be careful as holding the breath may cause discomfort.
- Always consult your general practitioner before beginning any yoga session.
2. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your left hand on the left knee. The index finger and the thumb should be gently touching at the tips and the palm should be open.
- Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between your eyebrows. The ring finger and the little finger should be on the left nostril and the thumb on the right nostril. These fingers on the left and right will control the opening and closing of the nostrils.
- Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
- Now, breathe in from the left nostril and press it down with the ring finger and little finger. Remove the thumb from the right nostril and exhale.
- Do not force the breathing; keep the flow gentle and natural.
- Do not apply pressure on the forehead with the fingers.
- Your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation.
3. Kapalbhati Pranayama
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Place your hands on your knees with the palms open.
- Take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, pull your stomach back in towards the spine. Do as much as you comfortably can.
- You may place your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract.
- Take 20 such breaths to complete 1 round of kapalbhati pranayama.
- Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents or a backache due to slip disc. Those who have had an abdominal surgery or are suffering from epilepsy or hernia should avoid this pranayama.
- This pranayama should not be practiced during and shortly after pregnancy. It should be avoided by women during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
- People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this with the guidance of a yoga trainer.
These breathing exercises are followed by the following yogasanas.
4. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Lie down on a mat. Place the hands below the hips and elbows close to the body.
- As you exhale, bend the knees and lift the hips off the floor.
- When you inhale, straighten the legs and place them straight up.
- Hold this position with the support of both your hands. Placing the elbows close to each other will help protect your back and will provide more stability.
- If the entire position is not possible, do as much as you can but make sure the position is stable.
- Exhale and bend the knees toward your chest.
- Next, inhale and with the help of your hands bring the hips down.
- When you come down from the straight position, make sure you don’t come down with a jerk.
- Menstruating and pregnant women are advised not to perform this yogasana.
- It is important to consult a physician if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems, glaucoma, slip disc, spondylosis, neck pain, and/or acute thyroid problems.
5. Viparitakarani (Half Shoulder Stand)
- Lie down on your back.
- Bring your legs together with your feet pointing upward.
- Roll your legs over, lift your buttocks off the floor.
- Place your hands below the buttocks.
- Your weight is focused on your neck, shoulder, and elbows.
- When you want to come back, take your legs over your head and bring your spine down slowly.
- Finally, bring your legs down and relax.
- This asana is a mild inversion, and therefore, it must be avoided during menstruation.
- Those with serious neck and back problems should perform this asana with the help of a yoga instructor.
6. Uttanpadasana (Raised Foot Pose)
- Lie down on your back.
- Keep your legs together and slowly raise the legs up bringing them to an angle of 90° with the ground. If you are not comfortable with this angle, you can also maintain an angle of 60° with the ground.
- All kinds of jerks and movements of the legs should be avoided.
- The toes should be together and stretched upward.
- Continue normal breathing and try to maintain this posture.
- Breathing normally, bring both the legs back down on the floor.
- This can be practiced by raising one leg at a time as well.
- Pregnant women and menstruating women are advised not to perform this pose.
- People suffering from severe backaches and high blood pressure should perform this after consulting your doctor.
- People suffering from any other ailments should consult their general practitioner before performing any yoga pose.
Further, aerobic yoga improves the oxygen delivery capacity of the blood as the blood volume, the number of red blood cells, and oxygen-carrying hemoglobin increase.
These are only a few yogasanas and breathing exercises that can help increase low hemoglobin levels in the blood. Other breathing exercises may also help, including suryabhedana and shitkari. Other yogasanas that may help with the hemoglobin levels include trikonasana, halasana, pawanmuktasana, matsyasana, shavasana, and others.
|↑1||Sinha, Anil. Common Remedies and Cures for the Common Diseases, Volume 1. Page Publishing, 2014.|