Yoga Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Did You Know…that yoga may protect you from cardiovascular disease?

Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice from India that helps to strengthen the body and the mind against disease. A meta-analysis of 37 studies made up of 2,768 people indicates that yoga reduces cardiovascular disease risk, including the risk of heart attack and stroke. The physical and stress reduction benefits of yoga decrease nearly all the markers of heart disease. So, stretch, tone, and strengthen with this powerful ancient physical and meditation practice!

Yoga vs. Traditional Exercise 

Researchers from the Netherlands and the United States systematically reviewed the effects of yoga compared with no exercise and traditional exercise.

Published in the Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the study showed that yoga was:

 Much more effective than no exercise at reducing risk factors
 Just as effective as traditional exercises, such as biking and brisk walking

This is great news for people who can’t take part in more conventional physical activity, or who prefer yoga to more intense exercise modalities.

Yoga was shown to reduce the following physical markers of heart disease:

 Body mass index
 Body weight
 LDL “bad” cholesterol and total cholesterol
 Systolic and diastolic blood pressure
 Heart rate

In fact, patients already exhibiting coronary artery disease enjoyed a dramatic benefit when adding yoga to their existing regimen of cholesterol-lowering statins.  All patients performing regular yoga showed a raise in healthful HDL cholesterol.  The stress reduction benefits of yoga are also thought to improve neuroendocrine status and metabolic function.

The researchers sum up their results this way: “Yoga has the potential to be a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost, lack of expensive equipment or technology, potential greater adherence and health-related quality of life improvements, and possible accessibility to larger segments of the population.”

What Type of Yoga Is for You? 

Yoga truly is for everyone, with a variety of traditions to choose from—from the easier, more restorative styles of yoga to the more physically intense vinyasa flows.

If you are a beginner (to yoga or other forms of exercise) start off easy with the following styles:

  • Ananda: Includes gentle postures that focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.
  • Ishta: Great for stress reduction, Ishta yoga uses poses, visualizations, and meditations to open up energy channels in the body.
  • Iyengar: Focuses on strength, flexibility, and balance with an emphasis on precise body alignment and the use of tools to help the less flexible.
  • Kali Ray TriYoga: Focuses on flowing, gentle, dance-like movements. Precise alignment is not as important in this practice.
  • Restorative: Everything the name suggests, restorative yoga focuses on relaxing the muscles and the mind with gentle asanas.

If you want a more vigorous yoga practice, look into the following types:

  • Anusara: Playful, heart-opening but challenging postures follow precise alignment protocol.
  • Ashtanga: Connects the movement to the breath and is physically demanding. Increases circulation, flexibility, stamina, and strength.  Power yoga is the American rendition of ashtanga.
  • Bikram: Similar to ashtanga but with a precise sequence of movements performed in a heated room, which helps with detox and reducing injury risk.
  • Vinyasa: This yoga flow is physically demanding but accessible as you move through a series of postures that connect movement to breath.