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How Yoga Benefits the Heart

Woman performing downward dog pose in classroom

The practice of yoga has been around for thousands of years and still maintains its popularity today. It is no surprise why. From Bikram yoga to Vinyasa yoga and Balancing Stick Pose to Plank Pose, there is a little something for everyone. When most think of yoga, meditation and relaxation are certainly two things that come to mind. While these are important reasons for the health benefits that they provide, it even goes beyond finding your "happy place".

Consider all of the workout fads that came and went over the last ten years, there must be hundreds. Here are some reasons why yoga is more than just a trend and how it can help your heart.

It reduces stress

Imagine yourself in a stressful situation. One of the first steps you take to calm down is usually deep breathing. The practice of pranayama yoga is breathing-based, focusing on inhaling and exhaling, meditation and relaxation. Unfortunately, encountering stress is inevitable. Taking a 60 minute yoga class can help you get back on track and reduce those feelings of anxiety after a particularly difficult day.

It can help reduce the risk of heart disease

High cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar are all factors that can increase your risk for heart disease. According to Dr. Helene Glassberg, cardiologist at the Penn Heart and Vascular Center, “Yoga, like other forms of exercise, can improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by improving metabolism, and can lower blood pressure by improving artery relaxation.”

It tones and strengthens your muscles, along with burning calories

While some forms of yoga focus solely on meditation and relaxation, others emphasize toning your muscles. Regardless of the pose, you utilize your own body to build up your strength, no additional work out materials needed!

Although not all types of yoga can be classified as an aerobic exercise, classes like Vinyasa yoga will up your heart rate and get those calories burning. In a fast paced, “flow” yoga class like this, you’ll be breaking a sweat in no time.

Sleep

Sometimes it is hard to wind down after a long day and get ready for some much needed sleep. Try using some of the breathing and meditation techniques you learned in a yoga class to slow down your heart rate and prepare for good night sleep. Eight hours of sleep a night is a must for your mind and body.

We've always known that exercise is an essential piece in your overall heart health. Going for long, brisk walks is great, but it can also get repetitive. Switch it up and try some yoga. With a ton of different types, try and find the one that works best for you. Not only will it strengthen your body, it will also fortify your soul.

It's not just the heart that yoga benefits, check out some other ways yoga can help improve your overall health.

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.


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