By Faye Martins
Is yoga for cardiovascular health a myth? No, and yoga fitness should be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. When it comes to exercising for a healthy heart, most people envision running, kickboxing or cycling. While these cardio activities certainly do give the heart good exercise, new studies and research suggest that activities such as yoga training may also yield significant benefits overall. One method of testing fitness is to measure how far participants could stretch on a standard sit-and-reach test. This test can be performed with the individual sitting on the floor, back pressed against the wall.
Holistic Fitness Assessment
With legs straight, the participants stretched their arms out and bent at the waist, stretching the arms towards the feet as far as possible. With the results of this simple test in hand, a group can be measured on more standard things like endurance, muscular strength, blood pressure, cardio respiratory fitness, aortic pressure, the speed of a pulse of blood flow, and how long the pulse took to travel between certain regions such as the neck and leg.
What’s the Purpose?
A holistic fitness assessment is an important tool for people who want to improve their cardiovascular health. This assessment takes into account a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, and body composition. It also looks at their lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise habits. By taking all of these factors into account, a holistic fitness assessment can help people identify areas where they need to make changes in order to improve their cardiovascular health.
Additionally, trunk flexibility is a very good indicator of arterial stiffness in test subjects 40 years and older. Arterial stiffness is one of the key factors in the development of cardiovascular disease. The stiffness of the arteries seems to be independent of other factors such as endurance or muscle strength which were both previously considered good indicators of overall heart health. Maybe we should take a closer look at yoga for cardiovascular health. Yoga can help improve cardiovascular health by reducing arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, so improving flexibility in the arteries can have a significant impact on overall cardiovascular health. Yoga poses that focus on stretching and lengthening the spine is particularly beneficial for reducing arterial stiffness.
Heart Health Benefits of Daily Stretching
Stretching exercises such as yoga postures, teach the arteries to be flexible in addition to the muscles, though scientists aren’t exactly sure how or why this happens. Middle-aged adults who begin a daily stretching routine significantly improved flexibility in the carotid artery in the neck, further strengthening the validity of this new finding. The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it benefits from regular stretching. That’s why yoga is so good for heart health. A daily yoga practice can help to keep the heart muscle flexible and strong. Yoga can also help to lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Additionally, yoga helps to reduce stress, which is another important factor in heart health.
Theoretically, the relationship between flexibility of the body and flexibility of the arteries could be found in the fact that both muscles and arteries gain the ability to be flexible from collagen and elastin. If stretching exercises send signals to the body to make collagen and elastin more readily available in response to the new needs of the body as a whole, perhaps the arteries also benefit from a more ready supply of both compounds, thus making them more flexible. This is only one of many theories, and it will undoubtedly take years for scientists to identify the exact underlying cause of this phenomenon. For now, it is good enough to know that such benefits exist. Yoga can increase the elasticity of arteries, which helps blood flow more easily. Yoga can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Flexibility and Arterial Flexibility
Since arterial stiffness was found to be independent of other factors such as endurance and blood pressure, a strong heart may not necessarily be a healthy heart. It’s more than just the strength of the heart muscle itself; the arteries are of great importance as well. The relationship between flexibility and arterial flexibility is so strong that a yoga practice should be recommended for cardiovascular health. One important way is by increasing flexibility, which can in turn help increase arterial flexibility. Arteries that are more flexible are less likely to become blocked, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Yoga can also help improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Additionally, the deep breathing associated with yoga can help to relax the body and reduce stress levels, both of which are good for the heart.
Exercise for Heart Health
Yoga exercises may be added to any existing cardio exercise routine such as walking, running, biking, or cycling to bring flexibility to the arteries. In addition, yoga is extremely beneficial for the entire body all by itself with no other exercises needed. A longstanding belief within the medical community was that yoga in and of itself was not adequate to promote heart health, but this is clearly not the case. Yoga alone is wonderful for the entire human body, bringing balance and health to the system as a whole. There are many benefits to yoga, including improving cardiovascular health. One way yoga does this is by promoting blood circulation throughout the body. Additionally, yoga helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. heart rate.
It is an indisputable fact that those who practice yoga throughout their lives enjoy greater levels of health than their peers. Now, thanks to continuing scientific research, we can more readily identify why practicing Yoga for cardiovascular health is a good idea. Indeed, research has shown that yoga can provide many benefits for heart health, including reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and helping to prevent heart disease. For this reason, if you’re new to yoga, look for a beginner’s class. If you’re more experienced, look for a class that offers more challenging poses.
Yoga Nidra for Heart Health
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a type of meditation that can be beneficial for heart health. With this intention, the practice involves sitting or lying in a comfortable position and focusing on the breath. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a state of complete relaxation. Studies have also shown that Yoga Nidra can help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as improve circulation. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, which are two major risk factors for heart disease.
Pranayama for Heart Health
Pranayama, or breath control, is an important part of yoga. For the purpose of relaxation, pranayama helps overall cardiovascular health. In order to practice pranayama, you focus on your breath and use different techniques to control your breath. As a result, this can help to improve blood circulation and lower blood pressure. Additionally, pranayama also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Of course, meditation has been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. As a matter of fact, people who meditate daily usually have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. Furthermore, meditation participants also have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Uniquely, meditation can also help to improve sleep quality, which is important for overall health.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Do you want to become a mindfulness meditation teacher?
See our selection of Yoga instructor courses and continuing education courses; please visit the following link.
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
Are you considering how to become a yoga instructor? See our selection of affordable meditation and teacher certification courses.
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Related Studies and Research
Pilkington K, Kirkwood G, Rampes H, Richardson J. Yoga for depression: The research evidence. J Affect Disord. 2005; 89(1–3): 13–24 10.1016/j.jad.2005.08.013.
Rimer J, Dwan K, Lawlor DA, et al. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 7.
Brisbon NM, Lowery GA. Mindfulness and levels of stress: A comparison of beginner and advanced Hatha yoga practitioners. J Relig Health. 2011; 50(4): 931–941 10.1007/s10943-009-9305-3.
Lau MA, Bishop SR, Segal ZV, et al. The Toronto Mindfulness Scale: Development and validation. J Clin Psychol. 2006; 62(12): 1445–1467 10.1002/jclp.20326.
Brown KW, Ryan RM. The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003; 84(4): 822–848 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1682.
MacKillop J, Anderson EJ. Further psychometric validation of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). J Psychopathol Behav Assess. 2007; 29(4): 289–293 10.1007/s10862-007-9045-1.
See our selection of Online Yoga instructor certification courses.