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12 Yoga Poses For A Healthy Heart

Yoga, literally means connection. This ideology of connecting with your inner self through a set of physical, mental and spiritual practices originated in ancient India. Though there are a broad variety of yoga schools and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, Hatha Yoga, a branch of yoga, has gained popularity in the modern world.

It mainly consists of postures named asanas that have great health benefits. Yoga also aids in better cardiac health [1] . Experts advise to practice a combination of Pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and asanas, to attain a healthy heart.

Why Is Yoga Beneficial For Your Heart

This therapeutic practice has numerous positive effects on your cardiac health. It benefits your heart in the following ways:

  • Maintains a healthy heart rate (can be calculated by HRV, that stands for Heart Rate Variability)
  • Reduces inflammation related to stress and anxiety
  • Cures high blood pressure, one of the main cause of heart attacks
  • Balances out negative emotions that might lead to depression
  • Improves blood circulation and oxygen flow in your body
  • Helps managing body weight [2]

Yoga Poses To Improve Heart Health

Here is a compilation of 16 most useful yoga poses that could improve your heart health:

1. Vrikshasana (Tree pose)

This pose firms your posture, broadens your shoulders, expands your chest, resulting in a confident and happy feeling [3] .

How to

  • Stand tall and straight with arms by the side of your body.
  • Bend your right knee and place the right foot high up on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be placed flat.
  • Make sure that your left leg is straight.
  • Once you find your balance, breathe deep and raise your arms over your head and bring your palms in a 'Namaste' (hands-folded position).
  • Breathe out slowly, look ahead and try to maintain a steady gaze at a distant object. This will help you in balancing.
  • Ensure that your spine is straight and keep taking long deep breaths.
  • Gently bring your hands down and release your right leg with slow exhalation.
  • Repeat this pose with the left leg off the ground on the right thigh.

2. Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

This is an ideal cardiovascular exercise. It helps the chest to expand, which increases stamina [4] .

How to

  • Stand straight and place your legs about three to four feet apart.
  • Your right foot should be placed outside at 90 degrees and the left foot at 15 degrees.
  • Align the centre of your right heel with the centre of the arch of the left foot.
  • Make sure your feet are pressing the ground, and the weight of your body is balanced equally on both feet.
  • Take a deep breath, bend your body to the right from below your hips while exhaling slowly. Ensure that your waist is straight.
  • Raise your left hand in the air while your right hand comes down towards the floor. Keep both arms in a straight line.
  • Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or on the floor without distorting the sides of the waist. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, aligned with your shoulder-lines. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left. Gaze your eyes at the left palm.
  • Your body should be bent sideways, instead of backward or forward, while keeping your pelvis and chest wide open. Stretch as much as possible.
  • With each, long breath, relax your body more.
  • As you inhale, come up and release your arms gradually, straighten your feet.
  • Repeat the same on your left side.

3. Veerabhadrasana (Warrior pose)

It improves blood circulation in your body, enhances stamina, keeps your heart rate under control [5] .

How to

  • Stand straight and place your legs about three to four feet apart.
  • Now turn your right foot outwards by 90 degrees and the left by 15 degrees. The heel of the right foot should be perfectly aligned with the centre of the left foot.
  • Lift your arms sideways, they should be parallel to the ground and your palms should be facing upwards.
  • Bend your right knee and allow it to form a straight line with your ankle. Make sure that your knee does not go ahead of your ankle.
  • Stretch your arms further and join your palms above your head. Gently push your pelvis down.
  • Hold the pose for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

4. Utkatasana (Chair pose)

It increases your heart and respiratory rate by stimulating the heart [6] .

How to

  • Stand straight and place your feet slightly (about 4 inches) apart.
  • Stretch your arms out forward with your elbows facing sideways and the palms facing down, do not allow any bending of your body and remain perfectly straight.
  • Gently bend your knees and push down your pelvis, posing like you are seated on an imaginary chair.
  • Find your balance while holding the pose and keep your spine elongated.
  • Gently let go of the pose and sit in Sukhasana (easy sitting pose).

5. Marjariasana (Cat pose)

This pose lets the heart relax and settle down after the chair pose. It also aids in improved blood circulation [5] .

How to

  • Stand on all your legs and arms, so that your back forms a table top.
  • Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor, and your palms should be placed on the floor. Your knees should be placed hip-width apart.
  • Raise your chin as you tilt your head backwards. Push your navel down and raise your tail bone. Compress your buttocks.
  • Keep taking long and deep breaths. Hold this pose for about a minute.
  • For the counter-movement of this asana, drop your chin to your chest and relax your buttocks. Hold the counter-movement pose for about a minute.
  • Repeat the movement and the counter-movement for about five to six times.

6. Adho Mukho Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)

This strengthens the chest muscles [4] .

How to

  • Come to a table-top position to get into the pose. Balance your body on your knees and your wrists so that they form the legs of a table while the rest of the body looks like the top of the table.
  • Gently lift your hips while exhaling and firm up your knees and elbows. Make sure your body looks like an inverted 'V'.
  • Your toes should point outwards. Your hands and feet should be in line with your shoulders and your hips respectively.
  • Press your hands into the ground and stretch your neck. Turn your gaze to your navel.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds, slowly bend your knees and return to the table-top position.

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

This pose stretches the chest muscles and invigorates the heart [7] .

How to

  • Lie down on your stomach, place your forehead on the floor.
  • You can keep your feet together or hip-width apart.
  • Keep your hands underneath your shoulders and rest your palms on the floor.
  • Inhale deeply and lift your chest off the floor.
  • Do not put place all your weight on your hands and keep your elbows slightly bent and the back muscles active.
  • Remove your hands from the floor to check the comfortable height for you. Keep your shoulders relaxed at all times.
  • With exhaling, lower your upper body back to the ground.
  • Repeat for 2-3 times.

8. Dhanuarsana (Bow pose)

This asana stimulates the chest area, improves blood circulation [7] .

How to

  • Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Fold your knees, take your hands backwards and hold your ankles.
  • Breathe in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up.
  • Breathe out and look straight.
  • Relax and continue taking long and deep breaths as you hold the pose.
  • Bend as much as you can.
  • Gently release your legs and chest after 15-20 seconds.

9. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)

This pose improves blood flow, stretches the chest, neck and spine [8] .

How to

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart on the floor.
  • Your arms should be placed beside your body, with your palms facing downwards.
  • Inhale and lift your back (lower, upper and middle) from the floor. Roll in your shoulders so that your chin touches your chest.
  • Firm up your bottom. Make sure your thighs are parallel to each other and to the floor. Let your shoulder, arms and feet support your body weight.
  • You may interlace your fingers and push your hands on the floor to lift your torso higher.
  • Hold the posture for about one minute.
  • Breathe out and release the pose.

10. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting half spinal twist pose)

This twist works on the whole spine. It stimulates the heart as well [9] .

How to

  • Sit erect with your legs stretched out. Your feet should be placed together and your spine should be absolutely erect.
  • Bend your left leg so that the heel of the left foot lies next to the right hip.
  • Then, take the right leg it over the knee and place it next to the left knee.
  • Twist your waist, neck, and shoulders towards the right.
  • Place your right hand on the floor behind you, and your left hand on your right knee.
  • Hold the pose for about 30-60 seconds and breathe slowly.
  • Release your right hand first, then the waist, chest, and the neck respectively.
  • Repeat the steps on the other side.

11. Paschimottanasana (Two-legged forward bend pose)

This pose helps in reducing heart and respiration rate and allows the whole body to relax [10] .

How to

  • Sit straight with your legs, stretched out toward. Make sure that your toes are flexed towards you.
  • Inhale and raise your arms over your head.
  • Exhale and bend forward. Your chin should move towards your toes.
  • Stretch out your arms, as far as they can, preferably till your toes.
  • Lift your head slightly, elongate your spine.
  • Move your navel towards your knees.
  • Repeat this a few times. Then, place your head on your legs, and hold the pose.

12. Dandasana (Stick pose)

This pose stretches the shoulder and the chest muscles [11] .

How to

  • Lie down on your stomach.
  • Bring your hands towards your shoulder, keep your palms on the ground.
  • Breathe in and push your body up to form a straight line.
  • Your body should be parallel to the ground, with your arms perpendicular to the ground and shoulders right over your wrists.
  • Continue breathing gently while you hold the pose.
  • Release your body as you exhale, come back to the sitting position and relax.
View Article References
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  2. [2] Woodyard C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.International journal of yoga,4(2), 49–54.
  3. [3] Liu, B., Floud, S., Pirie, K., Green, J., Peto, R., Beral, V., & Million Women Study Collaborators (2016). Does happiness itself directly affect mortality? The prospective UK Million Women Study.Lancet (London, England),387(10021), 874–881.
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  5. [5] Malota, Z., Glowacki, J., Sadowski, W., & Kostur, M. (2018). Numerical analysis of the impact of flow rate, heart rate, vessel geometry, and degree of stenosis on coronary hemodynamic indices.BMC cardiovascular disorders,18(1), 132.
  6. [6] Golec de Zavala, A., Lantos, D., & Bowden, D. (2017). Yoga Poses Increase Subjective Energy and State Self-Esteem in Comparison to 'Power Poses'.Frontiers in psychology,8, 752.
  7. [7] Ray, U. S., Pathak, A., & Tomer, O. S. (2011). Hatha yoga practices: energy expenditure, respiratory changes and intensity of exercise.Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM,2011, 241294.
  8. [8] Jackson, G., Gibbs, C. R., Davies, M. K., & Lip, G. Y. (2000). ABC of heart failure. Pathophysiology.BMJ (Clinical research ed.),320(7228), 167–170.
  9. [9] Pullen, P. R., Seffens, W. S., & Thompson, W. R. (2018). Yoga for Heart Failure: A Review and Future Research.International journal of yoga,11(2), 91–98.
  10. [10] Beutler, E., Beltrami, F. G., Boutellier, U., & Spengler, C. M. (2016). Effect of Regular Yoga Practice on Respiratory Regulation and Exercise Performance.PloS one,11(4), e0153159.
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