Yoga has become extremely popular within the last few decades as a form of both physical and mental exercise. Whether you opt for gentle yoga and meditation, focus on alignment with Iyengar yoga, or a little bit more flow with Vinyasa, ultimately you want to center your body and create balance between strength and flexibility. Countless yoga poses, or asanas, bring a wide variety of benefits to each yoga practitioner. That being said, yoga has a positive effect on one of the most common chronic conditions in the US – varicose veins.
Varicose veins develop in your legs for various reasons, but in all cases they are related to non-functioning vein valves. You need your vein valves healthy because they allow blood to flow from the legs toward the heart against gravity, preventing venous reflux (reverse flow). If the valves are damaged or the vein wall is too weak, the blood pools in the legs, which results in formation of varicose veins or their enlargement. Varicose veins typically get worse over time and can also lead to more serious conditions such as leg ulcers.
If you can already see a large, twisting vein on the very surface of your skin, even yoga won’t magically save you. There are various asanas, though, which can be very helpful when fighting chronic venous insufficiency – improper blood circulation due to poorly functioning valves. In general, anything that will bring your feet higher than your heart is the most beneficial pose for affected valves – that way the blood flows naturally with gravity toward your heart – poses called inversions. Other helpful asanas include stretching and toning of the deepest muscles in your calves and hamstrings, many of which belong to the category of forward bends. For a little bit of movement and to keep your blood flowing, Sun salutations are the best option. The final Savasana should always be performed to calm down and relax after the exercise.
- Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani)
- Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
- Headstand (Sirsasana)
- Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
- Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Sun salutation (Surya Namaskara)
- Corpse pose (Savasana)