Yoga & Heart Health: A Reflection by Jenny Dayton, RYT 200
How did you spend Valentine’s day? Did you warm your hearts spending time with your loved ones? Did you practice a heartfelt meditation? Our hearts carry so much love! But, they can carry so much more if we aren’t exercising them!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. My mother passed away from a heart attack in 2003. Cardiovascular disease typically targets those who are overweight, eat a poor diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle. For many people, an intense exercise regimen seems too intimidating.
Yoga, however, can be another option for cardiovascular exercise. Personally, I was never one to enjoy running on a treadmill or spending 60 minutes a day on an elliptical machine. When I found power yoga, I was in love with the cardiovascular benefits, which can be as effective as vigorous walking or running.
Practicing yoga exercises your heart, but in a gentle way. When you practice yoga, even gentle styles, you are targeting muscle groups in the entire body, increasing respiratory function through deep breathing and increasing circulation; therefore, your heart must work harder to pump blood throughout your whole body, even to parts you have unusually twisted, elevated or lowered. As a result, regular practice of yoga strengthens your cardiovascular system in numerous ways and helps reduce or prevent hypertension. Practicing yoga can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
All you need to start is an open mind and open heart. Yoga is the best medicine!