Yoga for Heart Health - Yoga Practice Blog

Yoga for Heart Health

vinyasa yoga instructor training programBy Faye Martins

Very often, teachers are asked about Yoga for heart health.  Now, we have some medical and scientific research to reference.  According to the American Heart Association, diet and lifestyle are crucial to preventing heart disease, and Yoga shows promise in dealing with both. A way of life that is thousands of years old, while it incorporates body, mind and spirit; Yoga is far more than physical exercise, and western science is confirming what swamis knew long ago. The ancient healing art has the potential to fight disease, improve quality of life and save millions of dollars spent on health care each year.


Ten Ways Yoga Helps to Prevent and Manage Heart Disease

1. Lowers blood pressure

2. Eases palpitations and other symptoms

3. Facilitates recovery

4. Balances the metabolic system

5. Lowers risk factors

6. Improves breathing and increases circulation

7. Reduces anxiety and depression

8. Improves balance and reduces risks of falls

9. Strengthens immune system

10. Helps to maintain stamina and agility


Evidence that Yoga Helps Fight Heart Disease

Researchers at the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Iowa, in conjunction with the Medical College of Wisconsin, followed a randomly chosen sample of African American patients with heart disease for five to nine years. One group practiced meditation for 15 to 20 minutes a day in addition to taking medication for hypertension, and the other received only medication. Researchers found that the group who practiced meditation had half the chance of dying of strokes, heart attacks and other causes when compared to the group who took medication alone. The meditators also showed considerable reductions in stress levels and blood pressure.

Likewise, Yoga helps to control heart rate variability (HRV), an indicator of the heart’s response to changes in the autonomic nervous system. Indian researchers examined the electrocardiograms of 42 healthy Yogis and 42 people who did not do Yoga. Participants ranged between 18 and 48 years old. Findings showed that Yoga practitioners not only had greater autonomic control over heart rate; they also had healthier hearts.


Other research suggests that Yoga helps to control the most common form of irregular heart rhythm, (atrial fibrillation 0r AFIB), significantly decreasing the risk of strokes. Based on research presented to the American College of Cardiology, participants who took three Yoga classes per week experienced half as many episodes of AFIB as they did before taking up the practice. The study measured results over three months. Depression and anxiety decreased, as well.

Finally, good news from the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India raises the possibility that Yoga might actually be capable of reversing heart disease in addition to reducing cholesterol and anxiety. In spite of the fact that these studies may have been small, they leave little doubt that the practice of Yoga is good for the heart and the soul.



While these studies look good, it’s too early to say the word: “cure.”  The results indicate Yoga can improve and prevent heart health problems. When talking to your students, citing studies is one thing, but never give any medical advice unless you are a physician.

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