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Relief for Varicose Veins through Yoga

Yoga therapy not only brings relief to sufferers of varicose veins condition but also aids in correcting and restoring damaged veins to their former condition. By regular practice of Yogasana and Pranayama it is possible to save oneself from such irreparable situation and it is possible to arrest further deterioration. Many patients have reported great improvement in their condition with regular and consistent practice of Yogasanas. This is especially true of early cases where damage is not yet severe. 

Extreme cases require medical consultation & therapy because the great danger is the collection of blood in one spot resulting in clotting of blood. Blood clotting can occur in any part of the vein and the clot can move with the circulation of the blood. It can clot in the leg but it can also clot in the vein pertaining to heart or lungs as well as brain. Under such circumstances emergent proper medical treatment has to be taken and no Yogic exercise should be undertaken unless the doctor advises.

THE NETWORK OF VEINS

There are two systems of leg veins - the superficial veins and the deep veins. The superficial veins lie closest to the skin and the deep veins lie within the muscles of the leg and the thigh. The superficial system enters the deep system in two places - in the groin and behind the knee. In addition there are a number of perforating veins along the leg and thigh which interconnect the two systems. Varicose veins develop where the two systems are connected to each other.

HOW DO VARICOSE VEINS DEVELOP

Blood is pumped from the heart to the legs through arteries. The pumping action is established as the muscles of the thighs and calves contract while walking. These repeated contractions squeeze and milk the blood upwards along the veins towards the heart. The entire process of sending blood back to the heart is called the venous pump. Once it has supplied oxygen and nutrients to the legs, blood returns to the heart through the veins. To complete this process, blood must flow upwards against gravity. Healthy veins return blood to the heart and lungs so it can be re-oxygenated. A system of valves makes this happen by allowing the blood to flow in only one direction, up. When valves fail or leak, gravity causes blood to flow backwards and pool inside the vein and the vein swells. This causes a varicose vein in the superficial veins in the legs. They often look blue, bulging and twisted.

CAUSES

A hereditary tendency, excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, repeated delivery as well as very quick deliveries, miscarriages, menopause time, dietary deficiencies, loss of skin elasticity due to aging, prolonged standing or sitting, constipation, constrictive clothing, wearing high-heeled shoes, lack of exercise, obesity and repeated heavy lifting are probable causes.

SYMPTOMS

Aching, heavy legs, ankle swelling, itching, burning, cramping, restlessness, throbbing and a brownish-blue shiny skin discoloration around the veins.

YOGA THERAPY

Asanas which allow the stagnant pooled blood to drain back to the heart, permitting damaged veins to resume more normal dimensions and facilitating valvular competence are the :-
Ardhapawan-Muktasana, Pawana-Muktasana, Naukasana, Urdhvamukh- Paschimottanasana, Chakrasana, Sarvangasana, Shirshasana, Vajrasana, Janushirasana, Paschimottanasana, Shashankasana, Tadasana, Pada- Hastasana, Suryanamaskara and Shavasana.

Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand) is considered to be the most effective Yogasana in the treatment of varicose veins. While doing this Asana, try to remain in the posture for at least 3 minutes. It increases the circulation of blood and also reduces the pressure of the blood that has got collected in the veins. Remember to rest in Shavasana after any inverted posture. If you find difficulty in performing this Asana, try the following technique:







TECHNIQUE

• Lie flat on the floor, resting your legs in an inverted position on a chair or straight up against a wall.
• Breathe deeply through your nose using the belly breath.
• While inhaling, let the abdomen rise to its limit and at exhalation let it fall completely.
• Keep watch on each breath with closed eyes.
• The deep breathing creates a pull in your chest cavity that also draws blood from the legs to the heart.
• Fresh blood then enters your legs, easing the pain.
• Do this pose twice daily for about ten minutes, the discomfort will start diminishing.

Beside the above Asanas below are a few simple exercises which can be done by anybody and are helpful in this condition. They are:

• Sit with your legs extended on the ground. Feet together, inhale and gently press the toes downwards for a period of counting 10, release while exhaling. Now press backwards towards the body for a period of counting 10, release while exhaling. Repeat 7-10 times.

• In the same way the whole part of the leg including sole is to be pressed in front as well as pulled backwards; Feet apart slightly about 6 to 8 inches, inhale and press the soles forwards slowly for a period of counting 10 and release while exhaling. Now press backwards towards the body for a period of counting 10, release while exhaling. Repeat this process 7-10 times.

• Feet together, rotate them slowly clockwise 7-10 times with the breath and slowly anti clockwise 7-10 times. Inhale while pressing the feet forward. Exhale while pressing the feet backwards. Do not raise the heels while rotating.

• Bend the right leg, place the right arm under the right thigh and hold the right wrist with the left hand. Raise the right leg up to an angle of 90 degree and move the leg clockwise 7-10 times and then anti clockwise 7-10 times. Repeat this process with left leg also.

• Make L shape of the hands (fingers together, thumbs apart) and keep them just behind the hips; palms down. Lean back & support yourself on the forearms. You can first take support from right hand, thereafter on the left hand. In this position, shoulder and head will remain lifted up. Lift the whole body, which is situated under the navel. Now bend both the legs from knees, raise them up off the floor and start cycling with natural breathing. Do 7 times clockwise and 7 times anti clockwise. Cycling is especially beneficial for the veins and muscles of the thighs. (If you can’t sit in this position then just lie down on the back and do it).

PRANAYAMAS

Bhramari Pranayama and Omkar recitation help get relief from pain. One should do these as much as possible every day.

SOME MORE SUGGESTIONS

• Keep the legs elevated as much as possible, to drain the pooled blood from the veins. If you work at a desk, support the legs horizontally rather than down in the usual position.

• Avoid crossing your legs while sitting since it cuts off blood flow and increases pressure in leg veins.

• Avoid standing unnecessarily for long periods of time. If this is not possible, then keep the muscle pump actively working and moving the blood by walking around or flexing and contracting the leg muscles as much as possible.

• Walking is beneficial as the movements of leg muscles help push the blood upwards. It results in creating muscle pressure and relax¬ation of the muscles, thereby the blood circulation and control is well maintained. One should also remember that anything in excess is bad. It is good to walk long distances but those whose body is not efficient and very fit should avoid very long walks as this could also lead to this problem of varicose veins.

• There is a special way of walking which will bring relief. The heel is brought to the ground first with each step, and then the calf muscles are consciously used to lift the heel of the back foot as it comes forward, increasing the 'spring' in the step.

• Don't wear heels taller than an inch. When you wear high heels, you don't utilize your calf muscles enough while walking and these muscles are responsible for pumping blood back to the heart from ankles.

• Sleeping with feet raised slightly above the level of the heart helps the blood flow away from ankles. Keep a pillow under the feet instead of under the head. One may lie down on the ground, raise the legs and support them on a cot or sofa; this way the advantages of Uttanpadasana can be ob¬tained.

• During pregnancy, rest frequently because your growing uterus is putting added pressure on the veins in your lower body, blood flow can become strained causing larger and swollen veins in your legs, vulva and rectum. Increasing hormones also relax the walls of your veins as well as the ligaments and joints in your body. The less you exert your body, the less pressure you will put on your veins.

• During pregnancy, lying on the side will aid venous return by shifting the pressure off the inferior vena cava in the abdomen. Alternatively, the pregnant woman can relax lying fiat on the back with the feet against the wall or on a support.

• Use of elastic stockings prevents further deterioration but this is not an instrument for cure of the disease. During the day the stockings can be released periodically, the leg elevated and massaged and then the stockings reapplied. At the end of the day the stockings is removed.

• Massage of the legs is very effective in bringing relief from the ache of varicose veins. It is most pleasant and relaxing in the evening when the limbs are tired. The movement should be towards the heart, squeezing and milking the tissues of blood.


By adopting simple measures regularly such as these, much relief can be gained.


Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti