You’ve begun, perhaps, to notice them… Those tiny red and blue veins, close to the surface of your skin, that weave and branch like the webs of a spider. Most often they appear in your legs, or perhaps on your face, but they are not limited to these areas to be sure. Heredity plays a part, and a genetic predisposition to their appearance may be to blame of course, but certain professions that require you to stand for long periods of time may also be contributing factors to spider veins and more specifically their more painful cousin varicose veins. The result of these hereditary factors and workplace complications is that blood flows backwards through leaky valves instead of traveling on toward the heart as it is supposed to do. The result is not only discoloration of the veins, but can also be discomfort in the form of itching, aching, and swelling, and even occasionally the more serious complication of developing blood clots. Given all of these troubling factors, the question, “Is yoga a cure for spider, or varicose veins?” is well worth asking. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Not a Cure, but Still a Good Idea
While doing yoga, or other stretching exercises, will not “cure” you of this problem, engaging in this healthful activity can help to reduce and relieve soreness and swelling associated with these maladies, in addition to providing many other health benefits to the practitioner.
Strengthening Your Core
Strengthening your core is one of the most important things you can do for overall fitness. Other exercises, movements, and activities, are made more effective, when you are operating from a strong core. Having a strong core stabilizes your body when doing other exercises, helps ease back pain, improves your posture, and will help you to feel more confident as you pursue your fitness goals. Your transverse muscles, obliques, lats, abs, and lower back are all enhanced by exercises that strengthen core, and yoga is one of the best at accomplishing this goal. Some great yoga exercises to help strengthen your core are:
- Upward facing two-foot staff pose
- Side Crow Pose
- Bow pose
- Revolved Half Moon Pose
- Locust Pose
Improving circulation and increasing blood flow to your body is one of the ways that Yoga can actually help reduce the pain, swelling, and discomfort associated with spider and varicose veins. Improved circulation can assist in healing, and can provide oxygen to muscles, while removing toxins from the body. Here are several yoga poses that can help improve circulation to your lower extremities:
- Downward Dog
- Yoga Lunge
- Warrior Two
Another way to avoid injury, feel better, and be more relaxed is to improve your flexibility, and there are few exercises that accomplish this better than yoga. Being more flexible makes you feel more mobile, more agile, and gives you confidence in your movements and in your body. Some great exercises to increase flexibility are listed below:
- Reclined Big Toe Pose
- Standing Forward Bend
- Eye of the Needle
- Cobbler’s Pose
- Eagle Pose
Reduce Stress to Feel Better
One of the most important things you can do for your overall health, is to reduce stress, and in so doing, reduce the risk of hypertension. Yoga challenges you to focus on your body in such a way as to quiet your mind, and allow stress to seep out through the stretching of your muscles and the concentration required to achieve and maintain various poses and postures. While yoga is not the only method of exercise that can achieve these results, it is a form of exercise that focuses not only on physical performance, but upon mental focus. This makes it a good choice for many, and one that is growing in popularity.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
This might seem obvious, but its importance to yoga cannot be over stressed. Focusing on, controlling, and deepening your breathing is an elemental aspect of yoga. It isn’t just stretching, or flexibility, or muscle development, it is learning how to breath that provides some of the greatest benefits of this unique form of exercise. According to NPR’s Morning Edition “As it turns out, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it’s been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system—and maybe even the expression of genes.” Breathing is so integral to the appropriate practice of yoga that you cannot really consider your activity yoga at all, if breathing isn’t a primary part of your practice.
So, can yoga help cure spider veins? Well, it certainly won’t hurt! And the other benefits that you derive from the practice may just be so helpful, that you’ll be glad you decided to give it a try whether it helps with those spider veins or not.