Yoga is much more than a mental and physical recharge; it’s a way to integrate your body and keep everything functioning properly… including your kidneys
Why did you start practicing yoga? Was it for the workout? The community? The mental reset and recharge? For me, it was all of the above.
Yoga is a holistic practice meant to improve your physical and mental health. Yoga provides space and guidance for meditation with poses that stretch and strengthen your muscles, and exercises that detoxify your mind and body.
What many don’t know, however, is just how much yoga supports the health of your internal organs, like your kidneys.
The main job of kidneys is to filter your blood, remove waste and toxins from the body, and regulate water fluid levels. Blood is sent to the kidneys through the renal artery. After it is cleansed, the waste is removed from the body through urine and the blood is returned to the bloodstream.
Healthy blood means healthy kidneys, and healthy kidneys mean healthy blood. If the kidneys are damaged and cannot effectively filter waste products out of the blood, it will likely lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) which can impact every part of your daily life.
You can help protect your kidneys and promote healthy renal function by leading a holistic lifestyle that includes a yoga practice.
Here are 5 ways yoga can benefit your kidneys:
1. Reduce Blood Pressure
Like many first-time yogis, I walked into my first yoga class for the stress benefits. If performed correctly, yoga asanas can increase relaxation and blood flow throughout the body. Incorporating yoga into your regular regimen can help relieve stress and eliminate tension that is carried in your muscle groups which can also help to lower your blood pressure. This ensures that your kidneys are not working overtime to filter your blood and release hormones that keep your blood pressure under control.
2. Reduce Creatinine Levels
Creatinine is a waste product that muscles release into the blood stream. Studies suggest that overworking your muscles through aggressive workouts and intense exercise contributes to a rise in creatinine levels, making it harder for your kidneys to filter it out, which could lead to a build-up of waste that damages the kidneys. The early stages of kidney damage often go undetected. High creatinine level symptoms include nausea, chest pain, muscle cramps and vomiting, among others. Since yoga is less strenuous on your muscles than say, lifting weights, it helps keep your creatinine levels in check while still giving you a full-body workout. This is great news for people like me, who don’t exactly love the gym!
3. Eliminate Toxins
Yoga promotes clean blood by helping to detox your system. Certain yoga poses are designed to stimulate and contract organs like the kidneys, by pushing fluids through the body’s natural detox path. While the medical research does not explicitly prove that any one pose is best for kidney health, yoga is still believed to prompt healthy blood flow and renal function. The controlled breathing incorporated in yoga practices can also help promote cleansing as the lungs remove gases and chemicals when you exhale.
4. Improve Blood Flow
Certain yoga poses can help your blood flow more easily through your body. Yoga asanas, when performed correctly, not only feel great, they also keep your blood moving without putting too much strain on your muscles. The cobra pose, for example, stretches the abdominal muscles and engages the back muscles to promote blood flow around the kidney area. The boat pose also engages the abdominal muscles and stretches the back, as does the seated twist pose.
5. Lower Sodium Levels
While it’s not for everyone, certain practices, like hot yoga, can help your body rid itself of excess sodium in the form of sweat. Although you need a level of sodium to function, those with chronic kidney disease should be cautious of how much they allow into their system. Sodium helps maintain the right amount of fluids you have internally, but when your kidneys are damaged, they can’t filter the excess fluids and sodium properly, leading to more build-up and higher blood pressure. When you sweat during hot yoga, you may be helping your body eliminate some of the sodium that your kidneys can’t filter on their own.
If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease or experience high blood pressure or high blood sugar, consider incorporating yoga into your regular routine. The benefits are undeniable, from decreased stress to healthier kidneys. Even if you’re just attracted to the idea of a routine that promotes positive energy and a clean lifestyle, yoga is a great place to start.
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