08/11/2010 09:36 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Why Yoga Is Good For Your Heart

Among many good reasons to take up yoga comes from researchers at Yale University School of Medicine who say that practising yoga and meditation three times a week may reduce your risk of heart disease.

More Britons die from heart and circulatory disease than any other illness, says the British Heart Foundation.

Flickr, Robbie1

Stress is considered a major contributing factor to heart disease. It can make the heart rate and blood pressure rocket while releasing stress hormones capable of damaging the organ.

Yoga does the opposite, triggering all sorts of positive health patterns in your physiology that result in rebalancing your system and keeping your heart beating to a happy, healthy rhythm.

Blood pressure is stabilised

Yoga helps us cope better with stress and anxiety partly through blood pressure regulation. Medical experts say it brings back the sensitivity of the blood pressure-regulating nerves in patients with hypertension, and keeps blood pressure stable.

Natural painkiller
Bodily and emotional pain is reduced as healthy hormones, in-built painkillers and sedatives are released throughout the nervous system.

Healthy heartbeat
Heart rate variability (HRV) - the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate - is higher in yoga practitioners than non-yogis, according to one scientific study.

Easy does it
Rhythmic breathing keeps blood and oxygen pumping around the body. "This dramatically reduces the amount the heart has to work, allowing it to function on a higher level" explains Matt Gluck, a columnist for Yoga magazine.

"It also relaxes the autonomic nervous system, easing excess tension in the 'fight or flight' branch and helping return the pace of the heart to an optimum rhythm."

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