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Namaste Healthy: The Heart Benefits of Yoga
Manage blood pressure. Control cholesterol. Reduce blood sugar. Get active. Eat better. Lose weight. Stop smoking. There’s a reason the most talked about ways to improve your heart health also make up the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “Simple 7,” a list of seven lifestyle strategies that can help you lower your risk for heart disease: they work!
But there’s even another great way to protect your heart: managing stress. And while there are many ways to accomplish that feat, there’s one in particular that’s been helping people for centuries: yoga. Comprising a series of stretches and poses, coordinated with deep breathing and meditation, yoga is a practice that – according to many national experts, including the AHA – reaps widespread benefits.
- Yoga can lower blood pressure. Yoga’s calming effect is said to produce benefits as soon as people begin practicing, including lowering blood pressure and leaving you feeling more relaxed after a session. In fact, after just 12 weeks, you may see dramatic improvements in your blood pressure and experience a decrease in cholesterol levels.
- Yoga can improve flexibility and exercise performance. After those initial 12 weeks of regular yoga, you may see dramatic improvements in your ability to exercise.
- Yoga helps with healing after heart disease. The aftermath of a serious heart condition can leave someone with high levels of emotional stress. Yoga has been shown to help patients overcome depression and grief and improve energy and mood.