Every yoga practitioner will praise its benefits on the mind, body, and soul. What most of them may not tell you about are the actual physiological benefits yoga has on your heart. Research has recently shown that regular practice of yoga can significantly improve symptoms of depression and anxiety by limiting atrial fibrillation.
People who suffer from irregular heartbeat are considered twice likely to experience a stroke or have further heart complications down the road.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation is the most common form of irregular heartbeat. It is when abnormal contractions in the atria occur on a regular basis.
What causes it?
Coronary artery disease, injury from a heart attack, high blood pressure, poor diet, any of these things could eventually lead to an irregular heartbeat. The most common causes however are depression and anxiety. Whether it is the poor diet, lack of exercise, or any of the other things that typically accompany the two, researchers have come to the conclusion that the stress that comes with anxiety and depression raises your blood pressure. Too much stress can cause your heart to continually function under the strenuous conditions of high blood pressure and cause irregular heartbeat.
Those who suffer from anxiety constantly have their bodies in fight or flight mode. This is nature’s way of activating your body for imminent danger and causes a spike in adrenaline. Anxiety causes this spike to occur even when there is no present danger. Depression is similar in that can lower your blood pressure and create a similar imbalance in how your body reacts in certain situations, commonly through emotional outbursts to little things.
How Does Yoga Help?
There are many medications or procedures for treating these types of common heart problems but most are either invasive or have unwanted side effects. Yoga is a practice that involves breathing techniques, stretches, and poses designed to distress your body. Becoming in touch with your emotions and channeling them in a calm, relaxed environment.
Yoga and the meditation that accompanies it, train your body and mind to make peace with what is around you while exercising. It focuses on body awareness and can help you control your breathing, heart rate, and adrenaline. The isometric exercises and core work in yoga, combined with the peaceful meditation help train your body when to properly summon up the adrenaline and when to calm down. When you’re done you feel accomplished and the extra calories you burned can give you a tremendous sense of well-being as you leave.
Many doctors have gone as far as to recommend yoga as a form of treating irregular heartbeat because it is a very natural way of physically and mentally healing yourself. It is not as simple as ten sessions of yoga will heal your heart completely. Most of what caused these heart problems are mental and emotional.
Yoga can train you to make peace mentally and get your emotions under control while exercising your heart at the same time. Physically, yoga is great for your heart and indeed can help you get your blood pressure under control and get you in shape like any other form of exercise. What makes yoga unique is the mental focus you are trained to have in your body, not competing with those around you.
In a way, it is like therapy for your body but without prescribed meds or other medical treatments. But like all treatments and therapy, it takes time and consistency to truly take effect and heal you mentally and, consequently in this case, physically. Your heart is the most important muscle in the human body and can be affected by more than what you eat or when you don’t exercise. Take care of yourself as a whole and the heart will follow.