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International Yoga Day 2024: Here's how yoga can help reduce inflammation and heart disease

Yoga offers a holistic approach to reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. By incorporating yoga into daily routines, one can benefit from reduced stress, improved blood pressure, enhanced physical fitness, healthier lifestyle choices, and better emotional well-being.

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Updated on: June 21, 2024 9:30 IST
International Yoga Day 2024
Image Source : SOCIAL Yoga can help reduce inflammation and heart disease.

Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to injury or infection. Inflammation becomes problematic when it is chronic, where it can contribute to a list of diseases, including heart disease. Chronic inflammation is a key factor in the progression of atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. On International Yoga Day 2024, addressing inflammation through lifestyle changes such as yoga can help reduce the risk of heart disease, as per Dr Bharat Kukreti, Director and Unit Head of Cardiology, Paras Health Gurugram.

Reducing Stress Levels

Stress is a significant contributor to chronic inflammation. High levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can lead to increased inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular issues. Yoga incorporates deep breathing and relaxation techniques that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system. This activation reduces cortisol levels, thereby decreasing stress and inflammation. Regular practice of yoga can lead to a more balanced response to stress, helping to protect the heart.

Improving Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease. Yoga aids in lowering blood pressure and heart rate by calming the nervous system. Poses that promote relaxation and stretching, such as the Savasana (Corpse Pose) and Sukhasana (Easy Pose), help in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Lower blood pressure reduces the strain on the heart and arteries and brings down the risk of heart disease.

Enhancing Physical Fitness

Physical inactivity is another risk factor for heart disease. Yoga provides a low-impact form of exercise that enhances flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Poses like the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) offer a full-body workout that increases heart rate and promotes circulation. Improved physical fitness contributes to better heart health by reducing body weight, lowering cholesterol levels, and improving blood sugar control.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Yoga encourages mindfulness, which can lead to healthier lifestyle choices. Mindfulness developed through yoga practice often motivates one to improve dietary habits, reduce smoking, and indulge in regular physical activity, all of which are crucial for heart health. Being mindful of one’s body and health can lead to proactive measures in managing weight, reducing alcohol consumption, and choosing heart-healthy foods, thereby reducing inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

Ensuring Emotional Well-being

Emotional health is closely linked to heart health. Depression and anxiety are associated with increased inflammation and a higher risk of heart disease. Yoga’s emphasis on mental well-being through meditation and breathing exercises can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Improved emotional well-being contributes to lower inflammation levels and better heart health outcomes.

Conclusion

These benefits collectively contribute to lowering the risk of heart disease. Incorporating yoga into a comprehensive heart health strategy, as advised by one’s doctor, can be a valuable tool in preventing and managing cardiovascular conditions.

ALSO READ: International Day of Yoga 2024: Here's why you must practice yoga every day

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