The history of yoga dates back as far as 5,000 years ago in ancient India. Today, it is practised by many around the world to help with relaxation, improving flexibility and health. From hatha yoga to astanga, yoga offers numerous benefits for your heart.
A study by Ohio State University found that women who did not practise yoga regularly had 41 per cent higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL -6, a substance that increases inflammation in our body and causes heart disease.
The Indian Institute of Technology also found that yoga increases heart rate variability (HRV). A high HRV indicates a healthy heart. (People who regularly practiced yoga showed a strengthening of parasympathetic control – affecting heart rate.)
Yoga can be beneficial to patients who are recovering from Atrial Fibrillation (AF) too. AF is a heart condition where chaotic beating – sometimes several hundred times per minute – takes place at the two upper chambers of the heart. This irregular rhythm causes the heart to pump less efficiently, which may result in a blood pool or clot in the heart, raising the risk of stroke and heart attack. A study led by the University of Kansas revealed that as little as two one-hour yoga sessions per week can help significantly reduce instances of AF by about 30 to 40 per cent.
According to MindBodyGreen, a health and wellness website, yoga is an activity equivalent to running and cycling. It has been proven to be a lifelong healer for individuals with high blood pressure as well as those who have suffered a mild heart attack along with other types of cardiovascular diseases.
Stress is one of the main contributing factors to a surge in cortisol and blockages in our arteries. Out of 17,415 women – mostly Caucasian health professionals in their 40s and 50s – surveyed by researchers at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, 60 per cent of those who displayed stress and anxiety shared that yoga helped to offer them an immediate calming effect.
The aforementioned are just some of the benefits yoga has for your heart. You may want to consider taking this up as a viable alternative to other strenuous forms of exercise like long distance running if they aren’t your cup of tea. At the end of the day, it’s still your heart that wins!