Increase Lung Capacity, Improve Respiratory Function and Heart Rate, Build Strength and Manage Stress
As the American Heart Association, and most of our doctors have told us, anything that works your muscles is good for your heart and blood vessels– and getting into the various postures (asanas) during a yoga class will certainly do just that. Exercising the muscles also helps muscles become more sensitive to insulin, which is important for controlling blood sugar.
The deep-breathing exercises (pranayama) practiced in a yoga class help slow the breathing rate which not only increases lung capacity (shortness of breath can be a sign or an effect of cardiovascular disease), but also lowers blood pressure and calms the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for generating stress hormones.
When we put asanas and pranayama together, we end up with a sort of moving meditation. The act of clearing the mind (meditation/mindfulness) has been shown to help those dealing with cardiovascular disease as well as those wishing to prevent it by reducing the frequency, duration and overall effects of stress.
And as if you needed more reasons to make yoga a part of your wellness routine, yoga allows room to tune in to your own specific needs. In a Vinyasa Flow practice, one flows from posture to posture, allowing the heart to regulate blood pressure while the position of the heart is sometimes above the rest of the body and at other times it is below. Simply by adjusting the pace or speed of each “Vinyasa” one may control the overall working of the heart and therefore honor their body’s unique needs.