In most ancient literature, the heart was viewed as more than an organ that simply pumps blood through the body. It is considered the seat of intuition and wisdom, and is able to form memories and communicate independent of the brain.
It’s no wonder that keeping the heart-healthy was (and still is) such a fundamentally important aspect of yoga.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that yoga can support the health of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Yoga is generally a very relaxing practice that helps to enhance blood flow throughout the body, and regular practice can help reduce stress and tension.
How Yoga Enhances Heart Health
Here are some of the most well-understood ways in which yoga can enhance the health of the heart.
Yoga Reduces Stress
Stress is known to elevate the production of cortisol, and can lead to a number of physical side effects – such as enhanced blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure experienced over a number of years can strain the heart.
Fortunately, by reducing stress, yoga is able to help reduce high blood pressure and improve the overall health of the heart.
Yoga Reduces Cholesterol
In excess, cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Though it’s not exactly certain why this is, yoga has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in people struggling with diabetes. This can lower the chances of developing conditions like atherosclerosis, as well as minimize the chances of having strokes or heart attacks.
Yoga Boosts Cardiovascular Health
There are different forms of yoga which can enhance cardiovascular health in different ways.
- Faster-paced yoga, such as ashtanga, can help get the heart pumping, enhance blood flow, and improve overall cardiovascular endurance.
- Slower-paced yoga and pranayama are able to help enhance circulation throughout the body and make the heart’s job easier.
Yoga Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is sometimes considered ‘the root of all disease,’ because inflammatory markers can be found in almost every disease known to humanity – including heart disease. By helping to fight inflammation, yoga can reduce the chances of developing heart disease.
Yoga Improves Mind-Body Awareness
Regular practice of yoga helps us become more in tune with our bodies and our needs. This often leads people to want to engage in healthier choices, like eating well, which boosts heart health.
Yoga Opens the Heart Chakra
Various asanas help open the heart chakra. When positive energy flows through the heart, past traumas and grievances can be released. In addition, we’re often elevated to higher levels of compassion, kindness, and happiness. What’s more? Studies show happy people live longer lives.
Yoga is a very broad practice that can lead to a number of improvements in your health. It’s particularly beneficial for the heart and can help enhance overall cardiovascular health and lower the chances of developing heart disease.
Written by Nigel Ford
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)