According to both the American Heart Association and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, practicing yoga benefits your heart. Remarkably, traditional yoga asana (like those of Kripalu and Iyengar styles of yoga) includes slow or moderate movements, so they are not part of the vigorous 150 minutes of aerobic exercise recommended by the American Heart Association. How, then, might yoga help heart health?
Yoga lowers your blood pressure—often immediately. It also increases your lung capacity, makes respiration throughout your body more efficient by boosting circulation. These improvements are multiplied when asanas (physical postures) are combined with pranayama (breathing techniques). Yoga has also been shown to aid patients who have already suffered a major cardiac event, because it prevents or lessens emotional stress and depression that often result from heart attacks, surgery, and the like. It appears that the benefits of yoga are achieved largely through its effect upon the nervous system, especially through regulating hormonal functions and reducing inflammation. Additionally, yoga might reduce artery blockages, and has shown to decrease chest pain for those with heart disease symptoms.
In addition to the physical poses and breathing exercises, it is also crucial to stay for Savasana (the pose of final relaxation) at the end of your yoga class, even though it seems you are “not doing anything.” This pose is part of the integrative and meditative practice for your body and mind, and, according to Harvard Medical School, such a well-rounded yoga routine contributes to heart benefits. If you are new to yoga, it might be time to give it a try for your happy, healthy heart.
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