Heart Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga -- it is more than a stretch! We have been hearing about the health benefits of yoga for decades now. But what exactly are they and how are they achieved?

Research has shown us that yoga directly affects the heart and cardiovascular system in a unique way. A recent study from Texas State University showed that yoga (either “hot” or at-room temperature) has several heart health benefits, including significant improvement of blood vessel function, as well as improvements of cholesterol levels. Yoga can also help you manage stress levels, and by reducing the amount of stress we put on our body we're also minimizing the risk of cardiac events in a preventative way. We now know that yoga benefits heart health and your overall well-being, specifically:

Yoga Reduces Stress

Emotional stress is bad for your heart due to the increased hormones of cortisol and adrenaline, which increases blood pressure. Deep breathing and the deep relaxation techniques taught in yoga help offset stress and its physiological effects. Additionally, stress and sometimes depression follow a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack, bypass surgery or diagnosis of heart disease. As part of an overall treatment plan, yoga can help you manage this stress and depression.

Yoga is Like Medicine

Studies have shown that practicing yoga may help reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels, as well as heart rate, making it a useful lifestyle intervention. One study has shown that blood measurements and waist circumference—a marker for heart disease—improved in middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for three months.

Yoga Can Help You Stop Smoking

Some research indicates yoga might be a useful tool in helping smokers quit by teaching stress reduction, one common trigger of smokers. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.

Yoga Improves Heart and Overall Health

Yoga’s benefits are not limited to its heart benefits. Yoga can also improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance. In fact, it’s been shown that runners who practice yoga improve running times, run more efficiently and are more likely to stay injury-free.

But, Yoga Has It’s Limits

It is important to note, that yoga is not a form of aerobic exercise that raises the heart rate, like walking, running, biking and swimming. Therefore, we still should be spending a recommended weekly amount of time engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity, which raises the heart rate.

The history of yoga stretches back thousands of years. Students practiced it back then to increase their tranquility and spiritual insight. Today, many people across the world still use yoga to help them relax, increase their flexibility and improve their mental focus — and now we know it helps us improve our heart health and overall health. It’s a win-win type of practice!

Meal prepping and cooking for a heart healthy lifestyle can make it hard to find time to start doing yoga. Let Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating (SSHE) help you find the time, with their fresh, heart healthy prepackaged meal plans. SSHE is the ideal solution for anyone looking for an easy way to live a healthier lifestyle!