Our hearts work around the clock to maintain a steady flow of oxygen, blood, and hormones through our bodies. No wonder this vital organ requires the utmost care to function smoothly. When it comes to heart health measures, many of us follow daily exercise routines and nutritious diets, but we still face the threat of heart attacks and cardiac arrest over long periods of time. This may be due to pre-existing illness, family history, or poor mental health due to unrelieved stress, depressive tendencies, or anxiety issues. (Also read: Cardiologist talks about the hidden causes of heart attacks during physical activity and how to prevent them)
While screening is important for people with high-risk factors or family history, following a routine that addresses the majority of risk factors is essential to protecting cardiovascular health in general. The ancient practice of yoga is becoming increasingly popular as a holistic approach to health. There are asanas, pranayama techniques, and meditation practices that can help release stress, strengthen vital organs, bones, and muscles, and reverse the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
“Yoga, an ancient practice originating from India, is recognized worldwide as a form of physical exercise as well as a holistic health practice.Yoga involves physical postures (asanas), breathing, dharma (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), which collectively can have a beneficial effect on heart health,” says cardiologist and electrophysiologist Dr. Indranil Basu Ray. say.
“Numerous studies have investigated the effects of yoga on heart health. For example, studies published in high-impact and reputable journals have shown the positive effects of yoga on various cardiovascular risk factors. A systematic review also suggests that yoga may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” say the experts.
Dr. Indranil says yoga has a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help reduce stress and manage blood pressure. Apart from controlling blood sugar levels, yoga also helps reduce bad cholesterol and improve lipid profile.
Learn how yoga promotes heart health:
1. Blood pressure management: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Yoga has been shown to help lower blood pressure due to its calming effect on the nervous system. Yoga improves arterial relaxation and reduces stress levels, both of which are beneficial in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
2. Reduce stress: Chronic stress can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can damage the cardiovascular system over time. Yoga’s emphasis on deep breathing and relaxation reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which may lower your risk of heart disease.
3. Improved lipid profile: Regular yoga practice is associated with improved lipid profiles, including lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol, and increased HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease.
4. Weight management: Obesity is an established risk factor for heart disease, and yoga can be an effective tool for weight management. While not all forms of yoga are strenuous, many styles can help burn calories, and even gentle forms of yoga can reduce stress, improve mindfulness, help control weight, and reduce emotional You may eat less.
5. Anti-inflammatory effect: Inflammation is a key component of heart disease. Yoga may have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, which can be beneficial for heart health. Yoga practice has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, which are associated with cardiovascular disease.
6. Improve physical fitness: Although yoga is often thought of as a low-impact activity, it can improve your physical fitness, including improving your aerobic capacity, strength, flexibility, and balance. Improving your overall fitness can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
7. Improving mental and physical awareness: Yoga increases self-awareness and mindfulness, leading to better choices about diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, which indirectly benefits heart health.
8. Smoking cessation support: Yoga may also support smoking cessation efforts. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, so yoga’s potential role in helping people quit smoking could have significant benefits for heart health.
9. Diabetes Management: Yoga can be used as part of a lifestyle intervention to manage diabetes, which significantly increases the risk of heart disease. By helping with blood sugar control and weight management, yoga can be a useful adjunct to other diabetes treatments.
How to incorporate yoga into your daily life for heart health
To incorporate yoga into your heart health regimen, it’s ideal to find a qualified yoga instructor who can tailor the practice to your individual needs, especially if you have heart disease. It’s important to start with gentle exercises and gradually move to more advanced positions and techniques as your fitness level increases.
While yoga is an effective tool for prevention and management, it complements, not replaces, traditional medicine for heart disease.
Yoga practices for heart health
Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can be very beneficial to improve your heart health. Here are some specific yoga practices and tips from Dr. Indraneel that can help promote cardiovascular health.
Certain asanas and yoga poses are known to help improve heart health by increasing circulation, reducing stress, and improving blood vessel flexibility. Some commonly recommended positions include:
⦁ Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Improves posture and breathing, which are the basis for other asanas.
⦁ Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)): A balancing pose that aids mental focus and circulation.
⦁ SetuBandhasana (Bridge Pose): This asana helps regulate blood pressure.
⦁ Uttanasana (standing forward bend): Calms the nervous system and reduces stress.
⦁ Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): Opens the chest and improves respiratory function.
⦁ Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose): Strengthens circulation and breathing.
⦁ Ardhamatsyendrasana (sitting hemispinal twist): Stimulates the heart and increases flexibility of the spine.
⦁ Pavanamuktasana (wind-relieving pose): It helps release digestive gases, improves metabolism, and indirectly supports heart health.
⦁ Savasana (corpse pose): Known for its deep relaxing effects, it can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
Pranayama, or breathing exercises, can help control your breathing, which can play an important role in stress management and, in turn, heart health.
Effective breathing techniques include:
⦁ AnulomVilom (alternate nostril breathing): It has a calming effect on the nervous system and is known to balance blood pressure.
⦁ Bhramari Pranayama (Be Breath): It has a sedative effect and lowers blood pressure.
⦁ Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath): Its rhythmic pattern strengthens cardiovascular function and helps reduce stress.
⦁ Seetari pranayama (cooling breathing): It can lower blood pressure and calm your mind.
⦁ Dirga pranayama (three-part breathing): Promotes complete oxygen exchange and deeply relaxes the autonomic nervous system.
Meditation and mindfulness practices reduce stress and are associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure.
⦁ Guided meditation: For beginners, guided meditations are easy to follow.
⦁ Mindfulness meditation: Focus on the present moment and reduce stress and anxiety.
⦁ Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and is a relaxation technique that is effective for the mind and body.
⦁ Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): By tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, you can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
⦁ Visualization: Thinking about calming scenes and experiences can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which has cardiovascular benefits.
How beginners should approach yoga for heart health
Please start slowly: If you are a beginner, it is important to start slowly to avoid strain and injury. Start with basic positions and gradually increase the complexity and duration of the exercises.
consistency is key: Regular practice will give you better results. Even short daily sessions are more beneficial than frequent, long sessions.
listen to your body: Listen to your body’s signals while practicing yoga. If your posture or breathing technique causes discomfort, relax your posture or consult your yoga instructor for corrections.
Seek expert guidance: We recommend practicing yoga under the guidance of a qualified instructor, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition.
Combine with other lifestyle changes: Yoga should be part of a broader lifestyle change that includes a balanced diet, regular aerobic exercise, and stress management for optimal heart health.
Avoid high-intensity exercises if inappropriate: Some high-intensity yoga exercises may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with heart conditions. Exercises such as hot yoga and power yoga require caution.
Stay hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you practice yoga, which increases sweating.
Fusion with medical care: The practice of yoga should complement traditional medicine for people with heart disease. Always consult your health care provider before starting a new yoga practice.
“By incorporating these yoga practices and tips into their daily lives, individuals can effectively support heart health.Yoga has significant benefits for cardiovascular health, but traditional Note that it is not a replacement for medical care. It is best to think of yoga as “a complementary approach to a heart-healthy lifestyle,” concludes Dr. Indraneel. .