It’s well known that a healthy heart comes from heart pumping cardiovascular activity. On the other hand, yoga is recognized for relaxation and flexibility. The history of yoga goes back to ancient India where people practiced it to increase tranquility and spiritual insight.
Although yoga does not count as moderate intense exercise, it’s proved to benefit heart health as much as aerobics.
How can this be? As part of an overall healthy lifestyle, yoga teaches some very valuable lessons in lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate, and boost circulation and muscle tone.
Breathing – The deep abdominal breathing taught in yoga is particularly good for the cardiovascular system. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange. This is the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.
Stretching – Yoga slowly stretches the body into a variety of poses. When you hold a stretch, you bring greater blood flow (and with it oxygen and nutrients) to the joints and articulators of the body. This action is vital to ensure healthiness for the cells, tissues, muscles, organs, and nerves of the body. In addition, your organs receive a massage which helps with proper digestive function. Finally, the deep stretching stimulates glands and organs to help give you quick energy.
Calming – The calming benefits of yoga are well-documented. During and after a yoga class, you experience these benefits right away. Your blood pressure will likely be lower, you’ll be relaxed and you’ll feel better. This is important for all of us, but particularly, those who have already faced cardiac arrest, a heart attack or heart event. According to one heart expert, Dr. M. Mala Cunningham:
“The acute emotional stress of such an event certainly has a significant and adverse effect on the heart …. That’s where yoga can be a tremendous benefit to manage the stress.”
“Yoga is designed to bring about increased physical, mental and emotional well-being.” “Hand in hand with leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, it really is possible for a yoga-based model to help prevent or reverse heart disease. It may not completely reverse it, but you will definitely see benefits.”
Other Heart and Yoga Research Facts
- Yoga supports healthy heart rate – published by International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics
- Yoga transcendental meditation may lower high blood pressure – according to the American Journal of Hypertension, 2005.
- Yoga can reduce episodes of irregular heart rhythm, which is a leading cause of stroke – presented by the American College of Cardiology
Reference: American Heart Association, heart.org