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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Yoga ~ A Multifaceted Approach for a Healthy Heart

Jan 29, 2021 09:45AM ● By Jessica Rodriguez and Gisele Rinaldi Siebold

Yoga can be a strong component in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and aid in the overall treatment and rehabilitation of heart health. Evidence is indicated in the many benefits that yoga provides both physically and mentally, including reduced amounts of damage caused by stress.

In the article, “Emerging Data Support Benefits of Yoga for Patients With Heart
 Disease,” by Bridget M. Keuhn, the author quotes cardiac rehab nurse and cardiac rehab yoga teacher Sara Chambers, RN, BSN, who states, “There are multiple studies that [suggest] that regular yoga practice with breathing exercises can increase lung volume, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, help regulate the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, lower anxiety and [increase] physical endurance.”

Yoga is not meant to replace medical interventions, but can be a helpful adjunct that positively and more holistically impacts the entire system. For example, beta-blockers are frequently prescribed by allopathic providers to calm an irregular rhythm of the heart, such as atrial fibrillation. Breath work within the yoga practice can assist similarly through affecting the nervous system and calming or slowing down the affected heart rate.

A key, but often last-to-be-acknowledged piece of heart health, is the burden that emotional stress places on the heart. A recent article, “The Yoga Heart Connection,” published by Johns Hopkins Medicine, speaks to this realm that reaches beyond the physical. It recognizes that yoga can directly assist in relaxing both the mind and the body.

As yoga students more effectively manage anxiety through deep breathing and other techniques, cortisol and adrenaline levels tend to decrease. Physiological changes such as these may effectively lower blood pressure by offsetting these hormones and the harmful narrowing of arteries that they cause. In the same article by Kuehn, referring to a regular yoga practice, Chambers states, “The benefits are again shown to be interconnected and holistic; the impact of a cardiac event and/or diagnosis naturally results in additional worry for most patients, and a treatment plan that includes yoga can be a valid practice to facilitate mind-body 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,” states Medical Doctor Hugh Calkins, the director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins. Yoga practice can be a truly helpful, multifaceted approach for regaining and preserving heart health and overall well-being.

Jessica Rodriguez holds a 200-hour YA certification in alignment-based yoga and is the owner of West End Yoga Studio, located at 221 W. Walnut St., in Lancaster. She specializes in alignment yoga, vinyasa yoga, YoPi, children’s yoga, flexibility training and chair yoga. For more information, visit