Yoga for Heart Health

Seasoned yogis and novice yoga enthusiasts will rave about how they “feel like a million bucks” after their favorite classes.  For some the allure is the ability to stretch tired and sore muscles, for others it’s the time to relax a weary mind and body, relieve anxiety, or insomnia.  Still others get sheer satisfaction from the mastery of a challenging balance or seeing improvements in strength and stability.  No matter what it is that draws one to the practice, we yogis are hooked!  If you haven’t yet found yourself convinced to step on the mat, here’s one more reason to give it a shot. A growing body of peer reviewed research indicates that a regular yoga practice yields a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Yoga is well known for its calming effect and is often recommended in conjunction with other therapies for anxiety management.  The use of yoga in clinical settings is now growing, and is used in cardiac rehabilitation programs, eating disorders treatment programs, chemical dependency rehabilitation centers, and depression treatment programs.

So how does yoga enhance heart health? 

There is a growing body of research revealing how yoga is linked to reduction in heart disease risk factors such as:

  • resting blood pressure and pulse
  • blood cholesterol levels
  • body mass index
  • waist-hip ratios

Millions of Americans have high blood pressure, and about half of those individuals don’t have it under control.  Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  Since February is Heart Health Month, we want to share how yoga can help reduce participant risk of heart disease by reducing their blood pressure.

Yoga practitioner Colleen O'Neil taking her group through a series of yoga posesA 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic research followed a 12 week yoga intervention on 65 participants.  The yoga sessions were 3 times per week for 60 minutes.  At the end of this 12 week study systolic blood pressures decreased from an average of 140.6 to 131.8 and diastolic blood pressures decreased from 98.2 to 84.9 in the yoga  group.

Another set of findings on the efficacy of yoga in blood pressure reduction was a study performed in India in 2011.  A six month study on 50 subjects over the age of 40 practiced yoga for 1 hour daily.  Participants’ systolic blood pressure reduced from an average of 131.4 to 123.5, and diastolic blood pressure also reduced from an average of 85.6 to 79.6.

So if learning to do Boat Pose doesn’t “float your boat,” maybe helping yourself and your students maintain heart health is good motivation to jump aboard!

Here’s another one! NETA’s Yoga Alliance approved 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program?

The program includes five 2–day certifications, five 1-day certifications, one 3-day certification, and an independent home study. In these courses you will learn:

  • How to build confidence and strength in your yoga practice and daily life
  • How to teach yoga as an all–encompassing workout for the body, mind and spirit
  • How to avoid injury, basic anatomy, and proper yoga alignment
  • How to sequence yoga postures with breathing
  • How to create and teach dynamic yoga classes with progressive levels of difficulty

Ready to put these incredible benefits to work in your life and the lives of others? Register today

1 Krishna, B. H., Pal, P., G.K., P., J., B., E., J., Y, S., … G.S., G. (2014). 
Effect of Yoga Therapy on Heart Rate, Blood Pressure and Cardiac Autonomic 
Function in Heart Failure. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research:
JCDR, 8(1), 14–16.

2 Devasena, I., & Narhare, P. (2010). Effect of yoga on heart rate and blood
 pressure and its clinical significance. Int J Biol Med Res., 2(3), 750-753. 
Retrieved May 15, 2015, from

Contributed By

Colleen O'NeilColleen O’Neil is PhD student in Health and Human Performance at Concordia University, Chicago, where she also earned her M.S. in Exercise Science.  She has worked as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor for over 20 years.  She holds accredited Personal Training certifications through ACSM, and NASM, and Group Fitness Instructor and specialty certifications for Yoga and Pilates through NETA, YogaFit, and the YMCA.  She worked in corporate fitness for 12 years, and now runs a personal training business, and is a Presenter for NETA.  Her goal is to help clients enhance their health through exercise and education, and by incorporating a variety of exercise formats in personal training and group exercise.

One response to “Can Yoga Be Good For My Heart?”

  1. Jack says:

    I wager he is PEᏒFECT aat it!? Laughed Larry.

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