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Yoga and Your Cardiovascular System

yoga heart health

How Often Should I Practice Yoga?

One of the many advantages of yoga is the fact that you can practice it practically anywhere. There is no need for expensive equipment or special facilities dedicated exclusively to yoga. As long as you can find a quiet place with room for your mat, you can enjoy the benefits of yoga. You may be wondering how often should you practice yoga for best results. Bring out your yoga mat:

  • Once a week for at least one hour for stress reduction
  • Two to three times a week for one to 1 1/2 hours for improved circulation and stress reduction
  • Five times a week or more for one-hour sessions if you want to lose weight, lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve circulation and reduce stress

Worried that you will not have enough time to commit to one-hour sessions? Even short 20 minute sessions offer benefits that will help you keep your heart healthy and strong.

Yoga offers many benefits, from stress relief to stronger muscles, but did you know it's also great for your heart? Incorporating yoga poses into your exercise routine is a fun, simple way to improve your heart health.

How Does Yoga Help My Heart?

Practicing yoga reduces several risk factors that can lead to heart disease, including:

  • High Blood Pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart and coronary arteries and lead to kidney damage, stroke, vision loss, memory problems and peripheral artery disease. Practicing yoga regularly can reduce your blood pressure and your risk of developing these unpleasant consequences of high blood pressure.
  • Obesity. Excess weight, particularly if it's located in your abdomen, strains your heart and makes it more likely that you will develop potentially deadly cardiovascular disease. Yoga offers an excellent way to control your weight and decrease your body mass index (BMI).
  • Heart Rate. A heart rate increase of just 10 beats per minute elevates your risk of cardiac death by 20 percent. The calming effect of yoga can help decrease your heart rate, helping you to improve your heart health.
  • High Cholesterol. When you have high cholesterol, plaque clogs your arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack. Yoga offers a natural, drug-free way to keep your cholesterol level at the optimum level.
  • Poor Circulation. Yoga improves circulation and makes it easier for your body to send nutrients and oxygen through your bloodstream.
  • Stress: Meditation, an important component of yoga, helps reduce stress, which is a contributing factor in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Does Yoga Really Work?

Multiple studies have shown that yoga has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. One systematic review discovered that people who practiced yoga showed significant improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, BMI, weight, triglycerides and heart rate. Results of another study, published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, revealed that yoga reduces age-related deterioration in cardiovascular function. The evidence is clear that practicing yoga is an excellent way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Is Yoga All I Need for Good Heart Health?

Aerobic exercise is important for good heart health. This type of exercise works your large muscles and raises your heart rate. Walking, running and swimming are types of aerobic exercise. Yoga also offers aerobic benefits if you perform it vigorously enough to reach your target training heart rate.

Your average maximum heart rate can be roughly determined by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 30, your average maximum heart rate is 190. Your target heart rate is 50 to 69 percent of your maximum level for a moderately intense workout and 70 to 90 percent for intense activity. If your maximum heart rate is 190, you will receive an aerobic workout if you shoot for a target training heart rate of 95 to 162 beats per minute, with higher numbers offering the most benefit.

If you are not sure if you reach your target heart rate when you practice yoga, buy a heart rate monitor and track your rate. Although yoga can be a very effective way to get aerobic exercise, it never hurts to augment yoga with traditional forms of aerobic activity.

Interested in improving your heart health with yoga? Call us to find out how which type of yoga class is right for you.


European Journal of Preventive Cardiology: The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, 12/15/14


Yoga International: New Study Highlights Yoga’s Cardiovascular Benefits, 2/13/15


Indian Journal of Physiology Pharmacology: Effect of Yoga on Cardiovascular System in Subjects Above 40 years, 4/13


Yoga Journal: Get Your Cardio Through Yoga, 8/21/12


American Heart Association: Target Heart Rates, 1/13/16


Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases: Heart Rate as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease, July/August 2005


Yoga Journal: How Often Should You Practice Yoga, 8/31/15


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