Heart Health

Toe Talk

Have your heart set on yoga benefits?

Yogis around the world know it to be true: Yoga is truly good for the mind, the body and the soul.

Now, according to a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, there’s one more essential component to add to the list: the heart.

Harvard Heart Letter breaks down how the study indicated that yoga may help lower heart disease risk as much as conventional exercise:

The studies in the review looked at different types of yoga, including both gentler and more energetic forms. The participants ranged from young, healthy individuals to older people with health conditions. Over all, people who took yoga classes saw improvements in a number of factors that affect heart disease risk. They lost an average of five pounds, shaved five points off their blood pressure, and lowered their levels of harmful LDL cholesterol by 12 points.

The article explains that when coupled together, yoga’s various benefits can help people with cardiovascular problems. Gently stretching muscles helps them become more sensitive to insulin, which is important for controlling blood sugar. Deep breathing can help lower blood pressure. Meditation can calm the nervous system and ease stress.

“Yoga is unique because it incorporates physical activity, breathing and meditation,” says Dr. Gloria Yeh, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the review article.

This finding is yet another to add to the list to the physical benefits of yoga. It’s already been proven to strengthen bones, protect cartilage and joint breakdown, boost immunity, improve your balance, prevent digestive troubles, improve sleep and reduce pain.

These physical benefits of yoga are yet another reason to fuel your practice with gratitude.

Make each movement an offering, appreciate every moment, and focus on the positive.

Your mind, body, soul—and heart—will show you gratitude in return.