Nearly 16 million Americans practice some form of the mind-body practice known as yoga. And for good reason. It seems a little focused breathing, stretching, and thinking can go a long way in terms of improving heart health.
A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that regular yoga practice can reduce symptoms related to atrial fibrillation (the most common type of heart arrythmia, or irregular heartbeat), including high blood pressure, heart rate, episodes of Afib, as well as reduce anxiety and depression.
In the small study of 49 adults, University of Kansas Medical Center researchers had the participants with atrial fibrillation, participate in two 60-minute Iyengar yoga sessions weekly, while continuing to take their medications, for three months, the analyzed measures of heart health, including blood pressure, heart rate, and episodes of Afib. After, they found that the symptoms decreased and that the number of episodes irregular heartbeat was reduced by half, from four average episodes pre-study to two average episodes during the study period when participants were practicing yoga.
Additional research has shown that an adapted sequence of yoga poses can reduce low-back pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). This is significant, as low-back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the U.S., after headache, which is most common, reports the National Institutes of Health. It is the most common cause of disability and the leading cause of missed work days. One 2011 study of 313 adults with chronic or recurring low-back pain found practicing yoga for 12 weeks to lead to improved function compared to results from standard medical care.
What is Your experience with yoga? Have You taken a yoga class yet?