9 ways that Yoga can stimulate the function of the heart; breathing exercises, meditation and poses that can help

Our heart works throughout the day to maintain a steady flow of oxygen, blood and hormones in our body; it is not surprising that this crucial organ requires maximum care for smooth functioning. When it comes to heart health measures, many of us maintain our daily exercise routine and nutrient-rich meals, and even face the threat of heart attack and cardiac arrest for a period of time. This may be due to a pre-existing illness, a family history or even poor mental health with unprecedented stress, depressive tendencies and anxiety problems. (Also read: Cardiologist on the hidden causes of heart attack during physical activity, how to prevent it)

The ancient practice of Yoga is increasingly popular for its holistic approach to health. (Freepik)

While screening is important for those with high risk factors or family history, to safeguard our cardiovascular health in general, it is imperative to follow a routine that takes care of most of your risk factors. The ancient practice of Yoga is increasingly popular for its holistic approach to health. There are asanas, pranayama techniques and meditation practice that help release stress, provide training to crucial organs, bones and muscles, and help reverse the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

“Yoga, an ancient practice originating in India, has gained global recognition not only as a form of physical exercise, but also as a discipline of holistic well-being. It incorporates physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques ( pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). which collectively can have beneficial effects on heart health,” says Dr. Indranill Basu Ray, cardiologist and electrophysiologist.

“Numerous studies have investigated the impact of yoga on heart health. For example, research published in reputed high-impact journals has highlighted the positive effects of yoga on various cardiovascular risk factors. Systematic reviews They also suggested that yoga can be beneficial for people with hypertension and metabolic syndrome,” says the expert.

Dr. Indranill says that Yoga has a calming effect on our nervous system that can help reduce stress and manage blood pressure. Yoga also helps reduce bad cholesterol and improve lipid profile besides controlling blood sugar levels.

Here are ways that Yoga can help improve our heart health: :

1. Blood pressure management: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease. Yoga has been shown to help lower blood pressure due to its calming effect on the nervous system, which can improve arterial relaxation and reduce stress levels, both of which are beneficial for maintaining blood pressure levels. healthy blood

2. Reduction of stress: Chronic stress can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and over time, can damage the cardiovascular system. Yoga’s emphasis on deep breathing and relaxation can reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, thus potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.

3. Improved lipid profile: Regular yoga practice has been associated with better lipid profiles, including reduced levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, as well as increased HDL cholesterol, which is protective against heart disease.

4. Weight management: Obesity is a well-established risk factor for heart disease, and yoga can be an effective tool for weight management. Although not all forms of yoga are vigorous, many styles can help burn calories, and even gentler forms of yoga can help control weight by reducing stress and improving the mind, which can reduce emotional eating. .

5. Anti-inflammatory effects: Inflammation is a key component of heart disease. Yoga can have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which is beneficial for heart health. The practice of yoga has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein, which are linked to cardiovascular disease.

6. Improved physical fitness: Although yoga is often considered a low-impact activity, it can improve physical fitness, including increased aerobic capacity, strength, flexibility and balance. Improved overall fitness can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

7. Increased mind-body awareness: Yoga increases self-awareness and the mind, which can lead to better choices regarding diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, indirectly benefiting heart health.

8. Smoking cessation support: Yoga can also support smoking cessation efforts. Since smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, yoga’s potential role in helping people quit smoking could have significant benefits for heart health.

9. Management of diabetes: Yoga can be part of a lifestyle intervention to manage diabetes, a condition that significantly increases the risk of heart disease. By helping with glycemic control and weight management, yoga can be a beneficial addition to other diabetes treatments.

How to incorporate Yoga into your heart health routine

To incorporate yoga into a heart health regimen, one should ideally seek out qualified yoga instructors who can tailor practices to individual needs, especially for those with existing heart conditions. It is important to start with gentle practices and gradually move to more advanced postures and techniques as fitness levels improve.

While Yoga can be an effective tool for prevention and management, it should complement traditional medical care for heart disease, not replace it.

Yoga practices for heart health

For better heart health, incorporating yoga into your daily routine can be very beneficial. Here are some specific yoga practices and tips that can help promote cardiovascular health, as suggested by Dr. Indranill:

Certain asanas or yoga postures are known to help improve heart health by enhancing circulation, reducing stress, and improving the flexibility of blood vessels. Some postures that are often recommended include:

⦁ Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Improves posture and breathing, foundation for other asanas.

⦁ Vrikshasana (Tree pose): A balancing pose that helps with mental focus and circulation.

⦁ SetuBandhasana (Bridge pose): This asana can help regulate blood pressure.

⦁ Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): Calms the nervous system and helps reduce stress.

⦁ Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): It opens the chest and improves respiratory function.

⦁ Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose): Increases circulation and breathing.

⦁ ArdhaMatsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist): It stimulates the heart and improves the flexibility of the spine.

⦁ Pavanamuktasana (Pose to relieve wind): It helps release digestive gases and improves metabolism, indirectly supporting heart health.

⦁ Savasana (Corpse Pose): Known for its deep relaxation effects, it helps reduce stress and can lower blood pressure.

Pranayama or breathing techniques can be useful in controlling breathing which can play a crucial role in stress management and thus in heart health.

Some effective breathing exercises include:

⦁ AnulomVilom (alternative nasal breathing): This is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system and can help balance blood pressure.

⦁ Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath): It has a calming effect and can help reduce blood pressure.

⦁ Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath): Its rhythmic pattern can strengthen cardiovascular function and help relieve stress.

⦁ Sheetali Pranayama (refreshing breath): You can calm your mind and calm your blood pressure.

⦁ Dirga Pranayama (three-part breathing): It encourages complete oxygen exchange and is deeply relaxing for the autonomic nervous system.

Meditation and mindfulness practices can decrease stress and have been associated with reduced heart rate and blood pressure.

Techniques may include:

⦁ Guided meditation: Following a guided meditation can be easier for beginners.

⦁ Mindfulness Meditation: Focus on the present moment, which can reduce stress and anxiety.

⦁ Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and is a powerful relaxation technique for the mind and body.

⦁ Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): It involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, which can help lower blood pressure and heart rate.

⦁ Display: Visualizing calming scenes or experiences can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which offers cardiovascular benefits.

How beginners should approach Yoga for heart health

Start slowly: For beginners, it is important to start slowly to avoid any strain or injury. Start with basic postures and gradually increase the complexity and duration of the practice.

Consistency is key: Regular practice yields better results. Even a short session every day is more beneficial than a longer session done infrequently.

Listen to your body: While practicing yoga, listen to your body’s signals. If a posture or breathing exercise causes discomfort, relax or consult with a yoga instructor for modifications.

Seek professional guidance: It is recommended to practice yoga under the guidance of a qualified instructor, especially for people with pre-existing heart conditions.

Combine it with other lifestyle changes: Yoga should be part of a broader lifestyle change that includes a balanced diet, regular aerobic exercise and stress management for optimal heart health.

Avoid high-intensity exercise if it is not suitable: Some high-intensity yoga practices may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with heart disease. Practices such as hot Yoga or Power Yoga should be approached with caution.

Keep hydrated: Staying hydrated is important, especially when practicing yoga which increases sweating.

Integrate with medical care: The practice of yoga should complement traditional medical care for those with heart conditions. Always discuss with health care providers before starting a new yoga practice.

“By including these yoga practices and recommendations in daily life, individuals can effectively support their heart health. It is worth noting that while yoga can significantly benefit cardiovascular health, it should not replace conventional medical treatment for existing heart conditions. It is best to see yoga as a complementary approach to a healthy lifestyle for the heart,” concludes Dr. Indranill.

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