Did you know that arterial stiffening can increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke? According to the American Heart Association, in addition to healthy eating and regular exercise, stress-relieving activities like meditation and yoga can also help prevent heart disease and improve overall heart health.
Chronic stress can take a toll on your heart. When your body is stressed it releases the stress hormone, adrenaline, causing elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Research shows that, in addition to regular exercise, meditation, yoga, controlled breathing, can help regulate stress.
Yoga Poses for a healthy heart
We asked some of today’s leading yoga experts which poses focus on getting your heart in shape, although it’s worth bearing in mind any type of yoga practice you do can positively influence your cardiovascular health and flexibility.
- Boat Pose Variations – from Daniel Ross, owner of Bend and Fly yoga studio. “Boat Pose strengthens and tones your entire core and done with the right intensity will get your heart racing. Actively draw your shoulders away from your ears so your spine stays nice and straight, lean back so you have about a 45-degree angle in your hips with your legs extended. Try going from high to a low boat pose and extending alternate legs.”
- Trikonasana (Triangle pose) – from Fiona Noonan, yoga teacher at consciousyou.net and owner of Feel Younger Retreats. “This is the ultimate heart opening pose. Not only does it help you expand the chest and heart area but improves blood circulation, keeping the heart healthy!” Breathe in deep, expand your chest and increase stamina while opening your heart. Traditionalists rotate the chest upwards towards the ceiling, creating a slight arch of the back for even greater benefit.
- Setu bandhasana (Bridge pose) – from Carla Papas, yoga teacher at Merrymaker Sisters. Bridge pose is another great heart opening pose that improves blood flow to the chest and heart. “Lay on your back, knees bent and lift the hips toward the sky can open the chest area, allowing the breath to deepen and the heart to feel as if is shining.”
What you Need to Get Started
All of these postures can be done in the comfort of your own home, so there’s no need to join an expensive yoga studio to benefit from these yoga poses for heart health. And even if you do prefer going to yoga studio, you’ll need a few basics to get started:
- Your Own Mat. If you are planning on doing yoga at home, this is a must. Check with your yoga studio or gym if you don’t want to invest in a mat —some might have mats you can use, but we it’s usually best to bring your own.
- A Comfortable, Quiet Space. Yoga studios provide a relaxing distraction-free environment. If you’re practicing at home, designate a space that you can use without interruption.
- A Mat Towel. Ever heard of “hot yoga”? If you plan on sweating, you’ll want to grab a towel.
- Comfortable, Breathable Clothing. The best part of yoga at home is you can wear whatever you can get bendy in without judgment. Check with your studio for recommendations on recommended attire for their practice.
- A Water Bottle. Always have fresh water available for whatever type of exercise you are doing!
Along with these yoga poses for heart health, taking a daily supplement can help reduce the risk of heart problems. BALANCE Heart is cardiologist recommended, with 13 vitamins, antioxidants, minerals
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