When it comes to optimally caring for the human body, mind and soul, few practice can rival the power of yoga. For ages, practitioners of yoga have praised its ability to heal physical ailments and emotional stress. More recently, scientific research has shown that yoga has the potential to help with healing heart disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Why Heart Disease is so Pervasive
In order to recognize how yoga can help treat and prevent heart disease, it is important to recognize why it is so pervasive. Fundamentally, heart disease is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which blocks the flow of blood and oxygen between the heart and various organs throughout the body.
This buildup is caused by a variety of factors, including eating unhealthy diets, participating in unhealthily activities, smoking, genetics, and insufficient blood flow. When left unchecked, heart disease can cause serious and potentially life threatening conditions like hypertension, stroke, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
The Benefits of Asana Practice
One way that yoga helps people with heart disease is through asana practice (physical activity that involves stretching, such as yoga postures), breathing exercises, and meditation. By doing these activities on a regular basis, the body is working to clear the plaques that are restricting blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart and other organs.
Specifically, yoga postures help to bring oxygenated blood to the heart and other vital organs, which helps to improve blood pressure levels, reduce inflammation and stress, strengthen bones and muscles, and build energy levels.
The Power of Meditation and Self-Reflection
In addition to the physical benefits of asana practice, yoga also can help by promoting a state of mental and emotional equilibrium. Through meditation and self-reflection, yogis begin to understand why they do the things they do, including why they eat the food they eat and why they engage in the activities they do.
They can then ask important questions of themselves such as,” why am I eating this? Is this food going to help heal my body and give it energy or is this food I am about to ingest going to harm my body and take me further from health.”
Instead of perpetuating an unhealthily cycle of behavior that can contribute to heart disease, practitioners can identify and prioritize the things they do that serve to nourish the body, mind, and soul.
The mind can be an empowering tool or a depressive tool. Through self reflection and meditation we can use our mind to empower us to make good life decisions.
When practiced properly, yoga has the immense potential to help people suffering from heart disease to achieve physical and emotional health. By carefully incorporating asana practice, meditation and self-reflection, yogis are better equipped to make healthy choices that are less likely to cause additional plaque buildup in the arteries. Through a holistic approach to care, practitioners of yoga can get back to living life on the terms of their own making.