Yoga may benefit heart disease (Harvard Health Beat)

Health Care 22 Comments

Yoga could be a boon for people with high blood pressure, heart failure and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Yoga’s combination of stretching, gentle activity, breathing, and mindfulness may have special benefits for people with cardiovascular disease.

The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit term that means union. It aims to join body, mind, and the day–to–day challenges of life into a unified experience rather than keep them separate. There are different forms of yoga, from the gentle, peaceful hatha yoga to the active “power” form called ashtanga.

Hatha yoga’s path to balancing the mind and the body involves three interconnected threads:
physical postures called “asanas,” controlled breathing, and calming the mind through relaxation and meditation. The three work together.

Getting into the various postures during a yoga session gently exercises the muscles. Anything that works your muscles is good for your heart and blood vessels. Activity also helps muscles become more sensitive to insulin, which is important for controlling blood sugar.

The deep–breathing exercises help slow the breathing rate. Taking fewer but deeper breaths each minute temporarily lowers blood pressure and calms the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for generating stress hormones. The postures and deep breathing offer a kind of physical meditation that focuses and clears the mind. Meditation and the mindfulness of yoga have both been shown to help people with cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that yoga

  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Improves symptoms of heart failure
  • Eases palpitations
  • Enhances cardiac rehabilitation
  • Lowers cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and stress hormones
  • Improves balance, reduce falls, ease arthritis, and improve breathing for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Editor in Chief