How Yoga Can Keep Your Heart Healthy

yoga for heart health

Yoga can help prevent cardiovascular diseases. This is according to a review of yoga and cardiovascular disease published in the European Journal of preventive cardiology. In fact, the review claims that the benefits of yoga are similar to those of conventional exercises such as jogging and walking.

Yoga Could Eliminate Heart Disease Risk Factors

In a 2010 study, researchers at Harvard found that people who regularly took part in any form of yoga boasted better heart health and were at a lower risk of developing heart disease compared to people who did not perform yoga regularly. In fact, the study participants were able to lower their blood pressure, harmful cholesterol levels and shed five pounds on average.

Strengthens the Nervous System

According to Dr. Timothy McCall, an internal medicine doctor based in San Francisco, it is important to have a nervous system that reacts to stress and relaxes in the absence of a stressor. Unfortunately, most people fail to relax after eliminating the stressor. Their systems remain tense and running on overdrive. Unfortunately, people who are regularly overstressed are more prone to heart disease, the stroke foundation explains.

yoga for nervous system

According to Dr. McCall, people who are stressed tend to engage in unhealthy behavior such as smoking, over eating and physical inactivity, which tends to increase an individual’s blood pressure and in turn risks damage to the heart. Yoga is a meditation and relaxation technique that helps keep the body calm, relaxed and working as it should. It thus reduces your chances of engaging in behavior that may be risky to your health.

It is also a form of exercise, which allows you to be active thus reducing blood pressure. The benefit of yoga to the heart emerges from its ability to reduce stress and improve physical fitness, says the founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness program, at Montefire Medical center, Robert Ostefield.

Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

A recent study published in the Medicine Science in Sports and Exercises (link to study found here) reveals that yoga promotes cardiovascular fitness and improves the quality of life. For this reason, yoga is particularly beneficial to patients who have suffered or are at a high risk of suffering heart failure. The study involved 40 patients with heart failure. Over the course of eight weeks, the patients participated in 16 yoga sessions as part of their treatment regimen. Physicians observed notable improvements in the patients after the eight weeks including improved flexibility, better quality of life scores and reduced heart inflammation compared to patients with the same heart failure conditions who did not engage in yoga.

Yoga Could Correct Irregular Heart Beat

Afib is a condition characterized by abnormal heart rhythm. Because of the irregular beating of the heart, this condition is responsible for stroke and other major heart conditions. According a journal published by the American college of Cardiology in 2013, the Afib experiences reported by patients dropped by almost half among patients who engaged in regular yoga sessions. These patients also had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates than they had at the beginning of the session.

The Heart Benefits of Social Interaction

For some people, yoga may be a way of strengthening the heart after a heart attack or stroke. According to psychologists, people who have gone through such experiences often feel isolated and lonely, which can cause them to develop depression. For this reason, the value social interaction for such people cannot be quantified.

Yoga for social interactions

Moreover, psychologists agree that such individuals need to socialize in order to feel safe. Social interactions also go a long way in relaxing the mind, which has an impact on the heart as well. Overall, participating in a yoga class can help patients recuperating from heart disease to recover fully, as well as improve their general well being.

Conclusion – Is Yoga For You?

Yoga allows your body to relax, thereby preventing unhealthy behavior that can cause heart disease. Such behavior includes binge eating and smoking, and physical inactivity. Deep breathing and mind calming meditation techniques allow the body and the mind to balance resulting in calm nerves and less stress. If you have underlying heart problems, yoga may prove to be beneficial not only for your heart, but also for your overall wellbeing.