February is American Heart Month ~ How Yoga Fits In

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Most people believe that breast cancer is the No. 1 risk for a fatal disease in women. Yet, surprisingly heart disease causes more deaths in women than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women, but women are typically affected about 10 years later in life than men. Two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

When we talk about yoga, stress is peppered throughout the conversation. When we talk about “stress” what exactly do we mean? Stress can come in many different forms:

·     Anger

·     Depression

·     Worry

·     Physical Illness/Disease

Yoga for stress reduction is a well-known benefit. But how exactly does stress affect your heart and why is it so important to understand the facts? 

Stress hormones raise blood pressure, heart rates, and causes the heart to work twice as hard to get the oxygen it desperately needs to function properly. When we are stressed (physically and mentally) our blood supply becomes compromised and if we have any fatty blockages or spasms in a coronary artery, even partially narrowed ones, our risk of heart attack increases. In addition, intra-abdominal fat can increase our bodies resistance to insulin, raising blood sugar and further increasing the risk of heart disease.

Physically, yoga improves cardiovascular conditioning by bringing oxygenation to all blood flow. This helps lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function, and boost circulation. Mentally, yoga can help people lose weight by empowering healthier eating habits and lifestyle choices. Doing yoga makes people feel good about themselves and more hopeful about getting better in all aspects of life. 

Yoga can also improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance. Doing yoga for a few hours each week will help you feel calmer and more balanced, both physically and mentally, all contributing to a healthy heart.


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