Why Yoga? The Heart Healthy Benefits of Yoga

The health benefits of yoga extend far beyond your figure and your frame of mind.  Yoga may be your key to some surprising benefits for your heart.

Practiced for many reasons – increase tranquility and spiritual insight, improve flexibility, tone and strengthen the body – yoga also provides beneficial elements for heart health.  Yoga health benefits include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Boost circulation
  • Improve heart rate
  • Improve respiratory function
  • Tone muscles
  • Increase lung capacity

In regards to heart health, the calming effects of yoga have been known to help those who have faced cardiac arrest, heart attacks or another serious heart event deal with stress and depression.

The following article from LiveStrong.com briefly touches upon the various heart healthy benefits of practicing yoga regularly.

Heart Healthy Yoga

The heart healthy benefits of yoga come from controlling several risk factors for heart disease. Various forms of yoga promote circulation, reduce stress and calm harmful cytokines that promote heart disease. According to Ohio State University researcher Ron Glaser, yoga seems to be a simple and enjoyable intervention that could reduce the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses that accompany aging.

Heart Rate Variability

A small study found yoga could help control heart rate variability that normally rises with activity and slows at rest. Uncontrolled heart rate from poor sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system control is linked to higher risk of heart disease. In a study, regular yoga was found to potentially improve heart health by controlling autonomic control of heart rate variability. The research was published in the “International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics,” November 25 2009.

Yoga and Depression

Depression is a known risk factor for heart disease. It can lead to irregular heart rhythm, lowered immunity and greater chance of cardiac rhythm disturbances. Boston University researchers found yoga to be a promising treatment for depression, because it increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric, which is also known as GABA, a brain neurotransmitter linked to depression from low levels, After one session of yoga, the scientists found study participants had increased levels of GABA in the brain.


Yoga can help curb obesity and unhealthy dietary habits that can lead to heart disease and heart attack. Regular practice raises awareness of food over consumption. Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published a study August 16 2009 suggesting yoga empowers individuals toward a healthy relationship with food and eating, which also promotes healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

Arterial Health

Practicing yoga can improve flexibility that is linked to arterial health, according an October 6, 2009 press release from the “American Physiological Society” journal. Researchers found that individuals over age 40 who cannot reach and touch their toes are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. Lack of flexibility in the body could be a way to measure heart disease risk, investigators concluded.

It’s important to note that there is more than one way to practice yoga for the sake of reaping the heart healthy benefits of yoga. For instance, yoga postures can be done slowly and carefully in a way that stretches the muscles, relaxes the body and calms the mind.  To really get your heart rate elevated, yoga asanas (postures) can be moved through at a quicker pace, which provides a more intense cardiovascular workout.  Try wearing a heart rate monitor to judge at which speed or variation of the poses provide optimal benefits for your heart.

Reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes – these are some of the heart healthy benefits of yoga.  Infuse yoga into your lifestyle as part of an overall strategy to lower your risk of heart concerns.  You may soon find that practicing yoga a few times of week is your “secret” weapon to conquering disease and living a fulfilled life!

Want to know about other ways holistic healing practices can help you lead a better quality of life? Contact us to learn how chiropractic care could help you!