Yoga For Cardiovascular Health

When it comes to exercising for a healthy heart, most people envision running, kickboxing or cycling. While these cardio activities certainly do give the heart some good exercise, new research suggests that activities such as yoga may actually yield even greater benefits overall.

The study measured how far participants could stretch on a standard sit-and-reach test. This test was performed with the individual sitting on the floor, back pressed against the wall. With legs straight, the participants stretched their arms out and bent at the waist, stretching the arms towards the feet as far as possible. With the results of this simple test in hand, the group was then measured on more standard things like endurance, muscular strength, blood pressure, cardio respiratory fitness, aortic pressure, the speed of a pulse of blood flow and how long the pulse took to travel between certain regions such as the neck and leg.

The study found trunk flexibility to be a very good indicator of arterial stiffness in test subjects 40 years and older. Arterial stiffness is one of the key factors in the development of cardiovascular disease. The stiffness of the arteries was found to be independent of other factors such as endurance or muscle strength which were both previously considered good indicators of overall heart health.

Stretching exercises such as yoga teach the arteries to be flexible in addition to the muscles, though scientists aren’t exactly sure how or why this happens. Another separate study showed that middle aged adults who began a daily stretching routine significantly improved flexibility in the carotid artery in the neck, further strengthening the validity of this new finding.

Theoretically, the relationship between flexibility of the body and flexibility of the arteries could be found in the fact that both muscles and arteries gain the ability to be flexible from collagen and elastin. If stretching exercises send signals to the body to make collagen and elastin more readily available in response to the new needs of the body as a whole, perhaps the arteries also benefit from a more ready supply of both compounds, thus making them more flexible. This is only one of many theories, and it will undoubtedly take years for scientists to identify the exact underlying cause of this phenomenon. For now, it is good enough to know that such benefits exist.

Since arterial stiffness was found to be independent of other factors such as endurance and blood pressure, a strong heart may not necessarily be a healthy heart. It’s more than just the strength of the heart muscle itself; the arteries are of great importance as well. The relationship between flexibility and arterial flexibility in the study was so strong that the doctors who conducted it recommended adding yoga to the recommendations for cardiovascular health.

Yoga may be added to any existing cardio exercise routine such as running, biking or cycling to bring flexibility to the arteries. In addition, yoga is extremely beneficial for the entire body all by itself with no other exercises needed. A longstanding belief within the medical community was that yoga in and of itself was not adequate to promote heart health, but this is clearly not the case. Yoga alone is wonderful for the entire human body, bringing balance and health to the system as a whole.

It is an indisputable fact that those who practice yoga throughout their lives enjoy greater levels of health than their peers. Now thanks to continuing scientific research, we can more readily identify why Yoga for cardiovascular health is a good idea.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Yoga for Mental Health: Mental and Physical Benefits of Yoga

Living in today’s fast-paced world can be very stressful. People go through their lives without having time for rest and relaxation. One would think that after all the advancements in technology life would be so much simpler and relaxed. However, life has actually become busier with the advent of all these new technologies. Even if you are always piled up with work at the office or you find yourself always having to travel from one place to another not for leisure but for business, it is still important to take some time for yourself. A good way to make your free time more relaxing is by doing some yoga. The primary focus of yoga is on the general well being of the individual. Yoga is good for your mental health and stress reduction, as it encourages the mind to focus and relax.

Doing some yoga, whether in a class or at home by yourself can have a lot of positive benefits for your overall mental health. Yoga can help your mind relax and by constantly engaging in both the physical and mental practices of this discipline, you will find that it is much easier to deal with stressful situations. Yoga for mental health offers so many benefits. Yoga can teach you to learn how to quiet your mind so that you can focus your energy into being at peace. While work and other worldly endeavors are an important part of your life, it is important to feel from time to time that work is not all there is in the world. By doing yoga, you can focus on positive thoughts and you can let go of all the bad energy and focus on things that make you happy.

Doing yoga for fitness is beneficial for your body as well as your mind. Yoga will keep you physically fit, as it improves you body’s flexibility and your overall health. Yoga significantly improves energy, vitality and respiration. By doing yoga, you can lose a lot of weight, as it helps improve metabolism. When you feel good about the way you look physically and when you constantly think of positive thoughts, you will be much more satisfied with your life. Yoga for mental health may just be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Go for a session or two of yoga over the weekend and you will find that you are much more alert and energetic when you go back to work. Yoga for mental health will also help you become much more alert and mental alertness can help a lot as you go about you daily activities.