The health of your heart is key to your quality of life, with cardiovascular disease on the rise in most western countries we need to take heart health seriously.
Having taught yoga now for over eight years full time and working with many students who suffer with high blood pressure (HBP) I'm well aware of the effect of yoga on the heart.
However I was really excited to receive a link to a research article from a friend late last year on yoga for atrial fibrillation (AF).
Firstly let me explain that AF is the medical term for an abnormal heart rhythm which can be characterised by rapid and irregular beating.
Occasionally people with AF might experience heart palpitations, fainting, light headedness or shortness of breath.
AF is also associated with heart failure, dementia and stroke.
One of the risk factors for AF include high blood pressure.
The study was conducted on 80 patients with Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, and looked at comparing a standard treatment group against a group of patients who received standard treatment along with regular yoga of a 12 week period.
At the end of the study the yoga group averaged higher mental health scores.
Importantly they had significantly lower heart rates and their blood pressure had also lowered significantly in comparison to the non yoga group.
Researchers concluded that yoga with deep breathing and light movements can be considered as a complementary treatment to standard therapy.
If I may just take a step back for a moment, I'm known for often saying at the studio that the body will follow the mind and one of the best tools we have for supporting mental health is the pranayama (breathing techniques) in yoga.
If you're not breathing than it's not yoga! Call it yoga exercise!
Nothing wrong with just doing the physical practice you'll find your body will get stronger and more flexible but you're on your mat taking the time to practice so you may as well give the breath the respect that it deserves.
It's a challenge and requires a significant amount of practice, ideally daily practice but once you master the basics its a tool that can and will have extensive benefits on the health of your heart but also your entire health and wellbeing.
So just breathe will ya : ) Kx
Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2017 Jan;16(1):57-63.