By Sanjeev Patel, CYT 500
How can yoga help people with heart conditions? The physical yogic path of Hatha yoga is a holistic, transformational series of movements and a system of mental balancing. Yoga is 5,000 years old and derives from the Sanskrit “yuj” which translates to “unite.” Yoga connects the mind, body, and breath to the whole being, which is why it is called a holistic practice. It combines breathing, positioning of the body, and meditation to connect with one’s spiritual self.
There are many types of yoga. Hatha yoga is a gentle way of calming the mind, breathing, and postures through relaxation and meditation. Easy movements performed at a slow pace will benefit mental and physical health. Asanas are the flowing postures, and pranayama is the easy breathing. Hatha yoga will increase the body’s flexibility and encourage relaxation.
Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death in the United States. Improving cardiovascular health includes many variables, but working the body’s muscles is good for the heart and for controlling blood sugars. The cooling, tranquil breathing of hatha yoga will lead to a lowering of blood pressure and calming of the nervous system. Meditation helps people who have cardiovascular disease.
Therapeutic Yoga and Heart Health
Intensive therapeutic yoga teacher training courses have begun to teach interns more about the practical application of yoga for heart health and other conditions. There is still much research being done on the benefits of yoga, especially as it relates to heart disease. Early indications show that yoga may benefit the heart in several ways.
•Reduce high blood pressure
•Lower cholesterol, triglyceride levels, blood sugar, and stress hormones
•Ease heart palpitations through controlled breathing
•Improve balance, arthritis symptoms, improve breathing
•Enhance cardiac rehabilitation
•Boost immune system
Yoga for Heart Conditions
Reducing the heart rate through the practice of hatha yoga is beneficial for those with hypertension, those who have suffered a stroke, or have heart disease. Hatha yoga consists of controlled postures that gently move from one to another. The breathing is slow and methodical, and the body stretches with each movement. This alone is calming to the nervous system.
More importantly, hatha yoga taps into the mental as well as physical abilities. As a person goes through the movements they should be stilling the mind and focusing on the moment and movement. Peaceful thoughts result in an attitude of stillness and acceptance. Hatha yoga’s ability to reduce stress is a major contributor to its heart heath benefits. Yogic methodology also leads to deeper, more restful sleep which revitalizes the body.
Two different independent studies concluded that people who practice hatha yoga have healthier hearts, and that regular yoga practice lowered levels of cytokine interleukin-6, which is often connected to heart disease. Hari Om Tat Sat
© Copyright 2011 – Sanjeev Patel / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Sanjeev Patel is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.
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