Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. Most of the time, lifestyle choices like unhealthy eating, smoking and lack of exercise are the main factors that lead to heart diseases such as congestive heart failure, heart attacks and congenital heart disease. Today, there has been an alarming rise in the number of young people dying of heart disease: in the past, people over 45 or 50 were at the highest risk, but now, people as young as 28 are also fatally affected. When doctors suggest better lifestyle choices to avoid developing heart disease, yoga is one of the most effective suggestions. Yoga is certainly a great exercise for weight loss, better flexibility, targeting body pain, and spiritual growth, and it can also target specific organ health. Some yoga asanas can help you improve your heart health immensely, while also helping to target other parts of the body. If you’re looking at improving overall cardiovascular health, include these yoga poses in your practice:
The Bridge Pose
The Setu Bandha Sarvangasana strengthens your leg muscles, stretches the neck, chest and spine, and calms the brain to relieve stress and mild depression. It also helps to reduce anxiety, fatigue, backache, and insomnia. It also stimulates the abdomen, lungs and thyroid. It reduces high blood pressure, and keeps the heart working healthily.
i. Lie down on the ground, keep your feet apart at your hip’s width while your legs are bent. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing downward.
ii. Lift your hips while you squeeze your glutes and your inner thighs. Your back must remain in a straight line.
iii. You can slide your shoulders under your body and lock your hands together. Stay like this for 10-15 breaths, release the tension, and repeat.
Head To Knee Forward Bend
The Janu Sirsasana is great for relieving mild depression and calming the mind. It also improves digestion while stimulating the liver and kidneys. Moreover, it also relieves anxiety, fatigue, headache, and eases menstrual discomfort. It is known to be therapeutic for high blood pressure.
i. Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Fold your left leg and bring the sole to touch the inner thigh on your right leg.
ii. Inhale and raise both your hands.
iii. While you exhale, bend down and place your head on your right knee. If possible, hold the right toe with both your hands.
iv. Hold this position for a few seconds and keep breathing deeply.
v. With the next inhale, raise both your hands, and bring them down with the exhale. Repeat this exercise with your left leg.
Reclining Big Toe Pose
The Supta Padangusthasana is excellent to relieve backaches of any kind. Moreover, it deeply stretches the muscles in the legs, like the hamstring, calves and inner thighs. It aligns the pelvis, and reduces arthritis pain in the hips and knees. It helps to lower hypertension and high blood pressure.
i. Lie on your back with your arms on your sides and extend your legs out.
ii. Inhale, bend the right knee, and grab the right big toe with your right hand.
iii. Place your hand on the left leg to stabilize it and keep it on the floor.
iv. Exhale, and stretch and straighten the right leg as far as your flexibility allows you to.
v. Inhale, and raise your head towards the right leg while still keeping the left leg down. Hold this pose for five breaths. Repeat the same with the left leg.
The Warrior Pose
The Virabhadrasana is wonderful in controlling high blood pressure, and good for heart health. It strengthens the shoulders and the arms, as well as the muscles in the back. It stretches the calves, thighs and ankles.
i. Place your feet wide apart and parallel to each other. Turn your left foot 90 degrees towards the left, and turn your right foot inwards.
ii. Bend your left knee outwards while your right leg stays straight. Raise your arms so that they are in line with your shoulders.
iii. Turn your head towards your left and look at your wrist. Repeat this 7-10 times and then try the same thing with the other side.
The Cobra Pose
The Bhujangasana opens up the shoulders and neck, expands the chest, and improves blood circulation. It strengthens the back and shoulders while reducing fatigue and stress in the body. It is especially helpful for respiratory problems like asthma.
i. Lie down on your stomach, and raise your torso while keeping the lower part of your body on the ground.
ii. Make sure your body remains straight through the pose. Keep your arms and legs balanced.
iii. Raise your head and look up.
iv. Resume your initial position after 30 seconds, or keep the position as long as you can.