Yoga is often viewed as a slow, relaxing practice. However, research shows that your cardiovascular health can benefit from yoga exercises.
Whichever form of yoga you choose to follow, it can help with improving flexibility, building strength and relaxing the mind, while also protecting the heart.
Here, we explore the benefits of yoga for your cardiovascular system.
Reducing stress and the risk of heart disease
Yoga, with its unique combination of physical postures and breathing exercises, is a powerful tool for combating stress.
The connection between stress and heart health is well-documented. For example, chronic stress is known to greatly increase the risk of heart disease.
Through deep breathing and mindfulness meditation, yoga helps calm the mind and reduce the body’s stress response. Its deep breathing exercises, such as Pranayama, increase oxygenation and improve blood circulation, which is vital for heart health.
The meditative aspects of the practice can also help lower blood pressure, reducing the strain on the heart.
Weight management and lowering blood pressure
Another way yoga can help boost your cardiovascular health is its role in weight management. While it may not be as intense as other forms of exercise, certain styles of yoga, like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, can be quite dynamic and physically challenging. These forms help burn calories, build muscle, and improve overall fitness.
One study looking at middle-aged and older adults with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease found that after a year of yoga intervention, their systolic blood pressure decreased, as well as their waist-size.
Better sleep and improved mental health
Quality sleep and good mental health are both critical for good heart health. The relaxation techniques taught in yoga, including deep breathing and mental focus, can significantly improve sleep quality by helping to quiet the mind and reduce stress. Consequently, this can also reduce the risk of heart conditions linked to sleep disorders.
Your mental health also benefits greatly from yoga. The practice’s meditative elements as well as focussing on the present can reduce and manage symptoms of anxiety and depression – both of which, if left unmanaged, can lead to unhealthy habits, high blood pressure and even heart disease.
Of course, if you have any cardiovascular health concerns and want to pursue yoga, it is best to consult with a cardiologist first. Dr Konrad Grosser can assess your heart health and determine whether you could benefit from treatments to address any potential issues. He can also make lifestyle recommendations, including yoga if this is suitable.