According to the American Heart Association, the leading cause of death for both men and women
in United States is Coronary Heart Disease. It leads to approximately 1.5 million heart attacks
each year. Research has recently shown that yoga and meditation can reduce
blood pressure, regulate heart rhythm, improve the elasticity of arteries, lower pulse
rate, and increases the heart's stroke volume. In short — practicing this ancient art of
body/mind wellness is a very good thing for your heart indeed!
Not surprisingly, a factor that contributes heavily to heart disease is stress. Situations that
are highly stressful increase the heart rate and elevate blood pressure. Stress hormones are released
during such times and extended or recurrent exposure of these hormones can injure the heart
and the blood vessels. That's where yoga comes in... Yoga promotes a relaxed state of mind and body
and is widely known for playing a vital role in the reduction of stress hormones, decreasing the
heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
The way a person breathes strongly influences the heart rhythm through the inner connections
in the central nervous system. Pranayama, the yogic name for breathing exercises,
encourages taking slow, deep breaths and reciting yogic mantras verbally. Taking slow, deep breaths
slows the heart and allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream. This results in a state of "calm"
and general well-being. And as you might expect, the chances of suffering heart attack (or stroke) are
Many believe that Heart Disease can be controlled (and even prevented) by using specific types of
Yogic Asanas (Postures). The chest can be opened up to improve respiration and functioning of the heart by using the upper
back-bending postures. The side bending yogic postures have been shown to help remove the physical
and energetic blockages in the heart and chest. In order to promote healthy functioning of the heart,
a good posture is required, and spine lengthening yogic poses provide just that.
The preferred yogic asana for relaxation is called the Savasana (Corpse Pose). In order to perform
this asana, a person lies down quietly on a flat surface on his/her back with the arms by his/her
side for 10 to 15 minutes. Concentration is placed on the flow of the breath. This practice
promotes tranquility and rest — healing to the heart. This yogic posture has been known
to reduce blood pressure within a matter of weeks. Using inversions can increase blood circulation as well.
Research has shown that a person performing yoga and meditation at least three times a week reduces
their blood pressure, pulse and their overall risk of heart disease. Meditation
is well known for its ability to provide tranquility to the mind and decrease the level of stress.
Meditation also reduces emotions like anxiety, hostility and depression, which are harmful to the
heart. The practice of daily meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure and also the amount
of fatty deposits in the arteries.
While practicing yoga, a person is automatically led to choose a healthier lifestyle, which involves
reducing or avoiding alcohol, processed calorie-dense foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar, and caffeine.
While heart disease can be averted or controlled by above-mentioned yogic postures, if all of them are
performed together a potent therapeutic synergy may be created.
If heart disease is an issue of concern for you, going beyond a healthy diet may be called for. Look
to reduce stress. Yoga and meditation may be two of your best options. And who knows? You might come to
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