A good chunk of fitness advice connects a healthy heart to exercise that significantly raises your pulse. However, millennia of yoga will tell you there’s a less intense way to improve your heart health. Daily yoga for the heart is a time-tested and proven method to improve cardiovascular health.
We did a little research to find out how yoga improves heart health and what yoga poses are best for heart patients.
Let’s begin with research to establish some foothold.
Is There Research That Supports Yoga for the Heart?
Yes, there’s an overwhelming amount of research studies that support yoga for the heart. Many clinical studies show that yoga improves your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by enhancing your metabolism and relaxing your arteries.
Here are some studies and reviews that establish the connection between yoga and heart health.
- A 2014 research study showed that yoga appears to be especially beneficial for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
- Research in yoga therapy has found associations with improved cardiovascular health and quality of life for patients with heart failure.
- A 2016 review and meta-analysis found that regular yoga practice may decrease the risk for cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome.
- Because it works like aerobics and resistance training, yoga may be beneficial in reducing cholesterol levels.
- A research study with Type 2 Diabetes patients showed that yoga might be effective in reducing high blood glucose levels.
“A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. There’s been a major shift in the last five years or so in the number of cardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits are real.”
—Dr. Hugh Calkins, M.D., Director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins
What are the Benefits of Yoga for the Heart?
Yoga for the heart has benefits that indirectly (and positively) contribute to your heart health. It may promote better sleep, enhance weight loss, treat smoking addiction, and help avoid binge eating.
Let’s get into the details:
- Better Sleep: Sleep deprivation is connected with heart-related illnesses like hypertension and coronary heart disease. Yoga can improve sleep quality, which can have a positive effect on your health.
- Weight Loss: Obesity is one of the leading causes of elevated cardiovascular disease-related morbidity and death rates. Yoga has been found to help adults who are either obese or overweight to shed pounds at a healthy rate.
- Treats Smoking Addiction: Tobacco use (primarily from smoking) is responsible for 20% of deaths from coronary heart disease. Studies in smoking cessation show that practicing yoga regularly reduces stress and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Helps Avoid Binge Eating: Binge eating, more likely than not, leads to obesity, which is connected with poor heart health. A randomized trial found that yoga could potentially be efficacious in treating binge eating disorders.
Which Yoga Is Best For Heart Patients?
Yoga poses that don’t require strenuous movements or intense physical activity are best for heart patients. Research shows that exercises that improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance are best for heart patients. Yoga combines all three while being easy on your joints.
Plus, yoga doesn’t require an insane amount of strength and fancy equipment. A simple yoga mat and comfortable clothes are all you need.
Top 5 Yoga Poses for the Heart
Here are five simple yoga poses to slowly and effectively improve heart health.
This pose isn’t just good for heart health, but it also strengthens your lower back. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand straight with your feet together and back straight.
- Bring your palms together and interlock them.
- Inhale and stretch your arms with palms facing downward.
- Look up and slowly drop your head back on your shoulders.
- Hold this position for 5–10 seconds.
- Release and come back to the initial position.
The Utkatasana pose may help you with better respiration by expanding your chest and stimulating the respiratory system. Here’s how to do it:
- Start with the Tadasana and slowly bend your knees and move your hips back as if sitting on a chair.
- Raise your hands upwards, touching your shoulders to your ears.
- Hold this pose for 5–10 breaths and get deeper into the stretch.
- Release your hands and get back into the initial position.
This easy yoga pose may work on your shoulder strength and improve your posture, in addition to being good for the heart. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand straight and place your arms at your side.
- Bend your right knee while lifting your right leg and place it on the inner part of your left thigh.
- Raise your arms over your head and bring your palms together.
- Keep your back straight and hold this position for a few breaths.
- Exhale, return to the initial position and repeat with the other leg.
This is a relaxing yoga pose that builds flexibility and could potentially reduce stress levels. You can perform it with these simple steps:
- Start with Tadasana.
- Take a deep breath and bend forward as you exhale.
- Bend your body at the waist and go as low as you can with arms extended downward (don’t bend the knees).
- Hold this position for a few seconds while breathing normally. Release and get back to the initial position.
Besides working on your flexibility, the Padangusthasana pose may reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Here’s how to perform it:
- Stand straight with both hands on your hips and inhale.
- Exhale slowly and bend forward to touch your toes.
- Move your belly inwards and relax the back of your neck.
- You may bend your knees a little if your hamstrings are tight.
- Hold for a few seconds and release.
Yoga for the Heart: Why You Should Start Now
If you’re currently at risk for heart-related ailments or presently going through one, we highly recommend adding yoga to your lifestyle. It’s not only backed by centuries of development and practice but also by hard scientific data.
It doesn’t matter what strength and flexibility level you’re at. You can always start slow and build up.If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of yoga or other ways to reduce your risk of heart ailments, speak to one of our expert physicians at Ayu Health. Visit our website, or call us at +91 636-610-0800 to book an appointment.
About the Author
Dr. Magesh Balakrishnan
He has 16 years of experience in this field. He has excellent skills in performing all cardiac diagnostic procedures/ tests. He has performed emergency and elective angiographies and angioplasties, device implantation (Pacemaker, AICD & CRT)