Yoga is an ancient technique that focuses on breathing, meditation, and the body. Practicing yoga instills a deeper awareness of your emotions, mind, and physical well-being, which allows you to be more in tune with your mind, body, and spirit. Those who choose to perform yoga for heart health reasons get the added benefits of improved cardiovascular health along with increased lung capacity, and better respiratory function as a result. It’s a great way to naturally decrease inflammation, build muscle, and boost blood circulation.
Four Key Ways Yoga Helps Your Heart
Not only is yoga a good way to stay in shape, it can do much more for you than simply tone your muscles. Here’s how it can literally improve the health of your heart.
1. Improves blood pressure.
Long-term blood pressure can potentially damage the walls of blood vessels and weaken the heart, which may cause plaque build-up and possibly narrow and/or block arteries. This condition is the leading cause of stroke and heart attack.
While a lack of exercise and poor diet are key players in contributing to high blood pressure, there’s also the element of stress. Yoga practice is a great way to help in treating high blood pressure due to its ability to diminish the body’s reaction to ongoing stress.
2. Encourages physical activity.
People who are primarily physically inactive are literally twice as likely to develop heart disease as opposed to those who regularly exercise according to health experts. Yoga enhances flexibility and strength, which greatly improves cardiovascular health.
Studies show that individuals who perform yoga have a much higher tendency to stick to an exercise routine. A recent case study enrolled a group of people who were previously inactive into yoga classes twice a week for a total of 10 weeks and discovered that just by taking the classes the participants increased their likelihood of continuing other physical activities as well.
3. Decreases stress.
When you encounter a certain stressful situation, your brain floods your system with adrenaline in helping you choose to either flee the imminent threat or fight it. This rush of adrenaline causes an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. While your body’s natural response to stress is to protect you, it can also tax your cardiovascular system if you’re constantly stressed out. Based on the findings of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, individuals who are more prone to stress suffer a greater risk for heart disease over their less stressed counterparts.
4. Counteracts inflammation.
Inflammation is a result of your body responding to harmful situations or injury as well as stress. However, it’s also the culprit of most pathologies, such as heart disease. Therefore, learning to effectively relax by performing yoga may help to diminish stress-related inflammation in the body.
Is Yoga Safe for Everyone?
In general, yoga is safe for virtually anyone. But, there are a few situations where it may pose somewhat of a risk in certain individuals. In such cases, it may be necessary to scale back some of the poses or at least find a temporary alternative.
If you’re dealing with any of the following situations or conditions, consult your health care practitioner prior to practicing yoga for heart health.
– Severe osteoporosis
– Balance issues
– Artificial joints
– Some eye conditions, such as glaucoma
– Unregulated high blood pressure
– Severe osteoporosis
You can still practice yoga despite these conditions by taking some key precautions, like eliminating certain stretches or poses. No matter where you are in terms of your general health, it’s important to start out gently and slowly at first.