Yoga and Your Heart

The leading cause of death for both men and women in United States according to American Heart Association is Coronary Heart Disease, which causes approximately 1.5 million heart attacks each year. Recently, research has shown that yoga and meditation have been known to reduce blood pressure, regulate heart rhythm, improve the elasticity of the arteries, lower pulse rate and increases the heart's stroke volume. In short, practicing this ancient art of body/mind wellness is good for the heart.The factor that contributes heavily to heart disease is stress.

Situations which are highly stressful, increase the heart rate and blood pressure. The stress hormones get released during a stressful situation; extended or recurrent exposure of these hormones can injure the heart and the blood vessels. Yoga promotes a relaxed state of mind and body and is also widely known for playing a vital role in reduction of stress hormones, decreasing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.The way a person breathes strongly influences the heart rhythm through the inner connections in the central nervous system. Pranayama, which is the yogic name for breathing exercises, encourages taking slow, deep breaths and reciting yogic mantras verbally. Due to this method of taking slow, deep breaths the heart rate slows down and more oxygen enters the blood.

This in turn induces a calm and well being throughout the mind and body. The chances of having a heart attacks and strokes gets greatly reduced because of this slow steady breath rhythm.Heart Disease can be controlled and prevented by using specific types of Yogic Asanas (Postures). The Chest can be opened up to improve respiration and functioning of the heart by using the upper back- bending postures.

The side bending yogic postures has been shown to help remove the physical and energetic blockages in the heart and chest. In order to promote the functioning of the heart, compression of the heart and lungs a good posture is required and spine lengthening yogic poses provides just that.The preferred yogic asana for relaxation is called the Savasana (Corpse Pose). In order to perform this asana a person lies down quietly on a flat surface on his/her back with the arms by his/her side for 10 to 15 minutes. The concentration is placed on the flow of the breath. This practice promotes tranquility and rest, which is healing to the heart.

This yogic posture has been known to reduce the blood pressure within a matter of weeks. Using inversions can increase the blood circulation.Research has shown that a person performing yoga and meditation at least three times a week has been shown to reduce their blood pressure, pulse and their overall risk of heart disease. Meditation is well known for its ability to provide tranquility to the mind and decrease the level of stress.

Meditation also reduces emotions like anxiety, hostility and depression, which are harmful to the heart. The practice of daily meditation has been shown in the studies to reduce the blood pressure and also the amount of fatty deposits in the arteries.While Practicing yoga a person is automatically led to choose a healthier lifestyle, which involves reducing or avoiding alcohol, foods rich in cholesterol and fat, refined sugar and caffeine.

While heart disease can be averted or controlled by above-mentioned yogic postures, if all of them are performed together a potent therapeutic synergy is created on the heart. It has been shown by the famous Dr. Dean Ornish's heart-healthy lifestyle studies that not only can heart disease be prevented or controlled but also it can reversed through a healthier diet, meditation and yoga.

.Michael Russell.

Your Independent guide to Yoga.

By: Michael Russell

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