5 reasons why yoga is good for your heart

With International Yoga Day just around the corner approaching soon, Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, senior Cardiologist at Asian Heart Institute, informs us how yoga can have a positive impact on heart health

Many studies have shown tremendous health benefits of yoga including that of cardiac health.  Yoga is a body-mind activity which helps in flexibility, muscle strengthening, balance, relaxation and concentration. Followings are the cardiac benefits of yoga:

Decreases stress

Stress leads to increase in stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which increase heart rate and blood pressure.  Increased heart rate and blood pressure is detrimental for heart.

Stress is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, hypertension, arrhythmia, heart failure etc. Meditation and deep breathing leads to overall calming down effect, decreases heart rate and blood pressure. That in turn lessens the risk to various heart diseases.

Improves numbers related to heart health

Regular yoga decreases blood cholesterol counts, blood sugar in addition to heart rate and blood pressure. Few forms of yoga are helpful in decreasing abdominal fat and thus waist circumference. All these better numbers translate into better cardiac health.

One study showed that the blood measurements and waist circumference- a marker of heart disease improved in middle aged adults with metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for 3 months.

Improves flexibility, core muscle strength

Yoga is a good form of exercise and burns calories too. It improves flexibility of joints and core muscle strength. This in turn improves one’s capacity of doing aerobic exercises like jogging, running, swimming, cycling etc. Aerobic exercises burn calories significantly and is predominantly responsible for a better general and cardiac health.

Yoga and smoking cessation

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for coronary artery disease and heart attack. Smokers who practice yoga regularly tend to quit smoking. Yoga leading to decreased stress leads to decreased urge to smoke. It is especially true for people who are more likely to smoke due to stress.

Helps in cardiac rehabilitation

People who have faced cardiac conditions such as heart attack, arrhythmia, hypertension, heart failure or people who have undergone a bypass surgery or angioplasty face a lot of emotional and physical stress.

Yoga is an effective way to decrease stress and slowly bring these patients into various cardiac rehabilitation programs. In fact, yoga is also widely practiced during cardiac rehabilitation.

Yoga can be practiced twice or thrice a week for 30 to 45 minutes a day for obtaining a good health and heart benefits.  For patients with cardiac condition, it is ideal to practice yoga under a trainer.