How does Yoga help to have a healthy heart?
Basics of Cardiovascular System
The human heart is a four-chambered muscular organ just the size of one of our fists, but its role is extraordinary in our life. Our existence itself depends on our heart, or else we are just a dead body!!
Our heart is the main organ of our cardiovascular system. Its circulatory system has a network of blood vessels that not only pumps blood throughout our body but also works with other body systems to control your heart rate and blood pressure. The heart pumps blood in a specific route through four chambers – two atria and two ventricles. Every time your heart beats, the atria receive de-oxygenated blood from the body which is then purified and oxygenated in the heart and then pumped out of the ventricles to the entire system. The circulatory system also helps deliver nutrients and oxygen from the lungs to tissues and organs throughout the body. It is actually teamwork of the heart and the lungs that keep the body functioning in the right way.
We have all learned these basics of our hearts in our school days. Except for the doctors, the rest of us have utilized this knowledge only to achieve marks in our examinations and have just erased the importance of our hearts. Surprised to realize it isn’t it!!
Ailments of Heart
Heart ailment or cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world. It would be a surprise to know that what majorly contributes to it is your high blood pressure.
As we progress in age and career most of us go through a sedentary lifestyle with no body movement at all. Even when we are free from our work hours we are so tired mentally that we continue to be couch potatoes expecting everything to be at our disposal right from tea, to snacks, lunch, and dinner. Seldom do we think to at least help the other family members by running the errands. Again, weekends are the time to chill with friends over drinks, smoke, and unhealthy junk foods. Have you realized what all these things lead to?
The daily work pressure leads to physical and mental stress, the long hours of inactivity in the body leads to being higher weight, and the overall result is clotting of walls and arteries of the heart. This is what leads to abnormalities in the heart leading to high blood pressure.
We need to now get into a deeper understanding of why are these abnormality dysfunction actually happening in the heart. When the aortic valve opening becomes narrow, the heart must work harder to pump enough blood into the aorta and to the rest of the body. The extra work of the heart can cause the left ventricle to thicken and enlarge. Eventually, the strain can cause a weakened heart muscle leading to blood pressure, heart failure, and other serious problems.
How do we rectify this imbalance in our bodies?
The best answer is YOGA. Let us have a look at how yoga poses help for a healthy heart.
How Yoga helps you have a healthy heart?
Yoga asanas involve breathing consciously and deeply while synchronizing your body movements. It relieves stress bringing positivity to the mind and body. And this change of personality is what helps control your blood pressure naturally leading to a healthy heart.
Lord Shiva who is considered the Adiyogi was gracious enough to teach yoga to the entire universe. It is believed that with his blessings Maharshi Patanjali could master the entire knowledge of the yoga sutras. Maharshi Patanjali was a great doctor and is the father of ’Charaka Samhita’. Yoga Sutra is his great contribution to the overall physical and mental well-being of the world at large. The word Yoga can be traced back over 5000 years and has proved itself to cater to both material and spiritual upliftment of humanity. The practice of yoga brings in a drastic change in the behavioral pattern of an individual due to the union of individual consciousness with that of Universal Consciousness. This is what helps to build perfect harmony between the mind and body.
There are many yoga asanas recommended to help you alleviate blood pressure and heart issues. Not only that yoga can be greatly enhanced and advanced through the use of various props and accessories. Props and accessories help in the alignment and precisions of the yoga postures, thus actually enabling you to get the best benefits of the asanas. It helps to add stretch and flexibility thus helping to strengthen your entire body. This also helps to avert accidental falls while doing the postures.
List of Yoga Poses for Alleviating Blood Pressure
Below is the list of yoga asanas that can be put into regular practice using props for alleviating blood pressure to have a healthy heart.
Tadasana ‘Mountain Pose’
Practising Tadasana regularly helps deal with stress and thereby promotes heart health by increasing blood circulation. This asana also helps with our posture and also strengthens our back, hips, and legs. Props – Mat and Belt.
Utkatasna ‘Chair Pose’
Utkatsana stimulates the parts of your diaphragm, and abdominal organs, thus enhancing your oxygen intake, and blood circulation and maintaining an appropriate heart rate. This also helps in enhancing your lower body muscles and also boosting your emotional well-being. Props – Mat, Wall.
Uttanasana ‘Standing Forward Bend’ Pose
Uttanasana is beneficial for your nervous system. When you fold forward in Uttanasana you stretch the entire muscles in your lower, middle, and upper back. It is beneficial in improving your blood flow. Thus, it helps in controlling your blood pressure. Props – Mat, Brick, and Chair.
Adho Mukha Svanasana or ‘Downward-facing-Dog’ Pose
Adhomukha Svanasana is one of the most rejuvenating yoga for managing high blood pressure and promoting overall blood circulation to the brain. Your mind and body get relaxed as this pose helps to stretch the muscles of your legs, hands, calves, and inner thighs. Props – Ropes.
Bhujangasana ‘Cobra Pose’
Cobra Pose helps with blood circulation throughout the body. Good blood circulation translates to balanced blood pressure levels. This pose eases the muscles in your face, neck, spine, back, shoulders, and hands. Props – Mat,
Ushtrasana ‘Camel Pose’
Camel Pose is an excellent posture for people suffering from hypertension and promotes healthy heart function. This also helps to stretch the chest muscles. Props – Mat, Blocks, Bolster, Belt.
Sethubandasana ‘Bridge Pose’
Setubandhasana normalizes blood circulation and regulates blood pressure. In the process, it also helps to ease heart blockages. It also helps to improve your digestion. Props – Mat, Brick, Bolster.
Shavasana ‘Corpse Pose’
Shavasana is one of the most relaxing poses that help to normalize your heart rate just helping in regulating your blood pressure. Props – Mat, Blanket, etc.
While most of these yoga asanas can be done in the comfort of your home, there are some asanas like the Viparita Karani and Adho Mukha Svanasana that needs to be done with the expert guidance of a yoga teacher.
Seeking advice from a doctor and a yoga expert before practicing yoga is important as a doctor defines your health status, while a yoga practitioner understands better what asanas one should and one should not do to avoid contraindications. Moreover, a yoga teacher can help you with the correct alignment and precision of postures.