Despite being an allopathic Cardiac Specialist, I strongly endorse the benefits of Yoga. Yoga is not an alternative medicine; it’s a way of living life –‘With Balance’. Yoga is a 3000-4000 years old science which had been in practice in the oldest civilization in the world (Indus- Valley). According to patanjali sutra, yoga has eight dimensions. Modified postures (Asanas) are only one part of it. Yoga is the best example to highlight the way one should handle oneself – with the right composure, with calmness and concentration. An ancient way of equilibrium that ensures that your health, flexibility and homeostasis is well defined and controlled. Any imbalance in your mental, physical or internal composure is responsible for any disease.
The following are few reasons Yoga is highly recommended for patients with Heart Disease or with a family history of the same.
- Yoga Relives Stress: When you encounter a stressful situation, the brain releases adrenaline into your system to help you to fight or escape the threat. This causes your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to increase. Living in a constant state of stress can cause a harmful impact on your cardiovascular system. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, people who are prone to stress have a higher risk for heart disease than their calmer counterparts. Yoga helps you relive stress; control your reactions and outbursts. As you become an adroit in handling stressful situations your reactions to the same becomes more practical and result oriented.
- Yoga relives inflammation: As your body becomes flexible, your body’s reaction to injuries and harmful situations also changes. The internal immunity increases helping fight against inflammation.
- Yoga may lower Blood Pressure: As practicing yoga relieves stress, it also has a positive impact on the blood pressure. Too much anger or stress can damage the blood vessels and the arteries. With yoga as your stress gets controlled so does your high blood pressure. The fewer but deeper breaths during yoga lower blood pressure and calm the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for generating stress hormones. All patients with high blood pressure should incorporate yoga (particularly ‘savasna’) as a part of daily routine.
- Yoga promotes physical activity: Yoga makes your body flexible and fit. The result is that one can feel active and energetic. All these are aspects that reduce the cardiac disease risk. It also helps maintain the balance in the body, complimenting the homeostasis that is required to be heart healthy.
- Yoga helps lower Blood Sugar: Asanas where an abdominal muscle goes in (contracted) is associated with increase in abdominal pressure and hence pancreatic stimulation secretes more insulin. During Yoga your body stretches and the muscles in the body get toned. This helps them become more sensitive to insulin which is responsible for controlling Blood Sugar.
- Meditation is a part of yoga: Meditation and mindfulness of Yoga have both been shown to helps people with cardio vascular disease. Calmness of mind, introspection and awareness of oneself are all factors that add to balance of live. Meditation lowers heart rate, blood pressure, level of stress hormones in the blood.
As a result the endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels) is less damaged.
- Prevention of Atrial fibrillation (fast heart rate of the upper chamber): Atrial Fibrillation is the most commonest cardiac arrhythmia in the general population. Regular practice of yoga is associated with reduced incidence of Atrial Fibrillation in the population (primary prevention).