Yoga for heart healthBy Caroline on the October 1, 2015
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Hearing a cardiologist speak at the recent Australian Yoga Therapy conference truly placed a smile on my face. Finally a medical professional was amidst a group of dedicated Yoga Therapists, clearly espousing that yoga is a method that directly addresses the risk factors of cardiac disease.
Some of you may not know that heart attacks are still the leading cause of death globally; something we really need to ‘hear’ and pay more attention to addressing. The Interheart study, an international standardised case-control study (Lancet 2004), identified that nine easily measured risk factors account for 90% of the risk of an acute myocardial infarction. In other words, we can identify these risks and do some about them!
As you may know, my passion is all things yoga and especially the healing and restorative powers of a wholistic practice of yoga, both on and off the mat. Yoga has been shown in clinical trials to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, stress and anxiety, amongst other known risk factors of heart attack. Per nation, the Lancet research demonstrated that cholesterol and psychosocial distress were the two highest risk factors for heart disease, implying that the approaches to prevention can be the same worldwide…
Yoga specifically tailored to the individual i.e., Yoga Therapy or therapeutic yoga, can have a profound influence on these variables. For example, by incorporating practises such as pranayama and meditation, that reduce stress by bringing the body to a calmer (parasympathetic) state. Or supported inverted restorative yoga poses that as an example affect blood pressure with a consequent impact on heart rate, blood vessel function, and related hormone production.
None of us are the same (thankfully!) and a tailored approach to health prevention through Yoga Therapy focuses on you, the whole person, to bring body, breath and mind to its natural state of equilibrium to promote healing.