Yoga has become the new “in” workout. Not only are the classic types of yoga (Iyengar, Hatha, Ashtanga, Bikram, etc.) becoming popular, but new and creative types of yoga (Ganja Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Dance Yoga, and more) are springing up around the country.
Yoga is a workout that offers a wide range of fitness benefits—everything from increased muscular strength and endurance to better flexibility and mobility. It also improves your health in many ways, including enhancing thyroid function, improving digestion, and boosting circulation. According to a new study, we can now add “reduces blood pressure” to the list of yoga benefits.
The study, presented at the 68th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India, examined what happened when 60 hypertensive patients practiced Hatha Yoga for just one hour per day. Half the participants underwent three months of daily Hatha Yoga sessions, along with other lifestyle changes. The other half only made the lifestyle changes, without the yoga practice.
For the first month, the yoga practitioners received daily hour-long sessions under a Hatha Yoga instructor. They then kept up the practice at home for the remaining two months. By the end of the study, the diastolic blood pressure of the patients decreased by 4.5 mmHg. The change was visible not just during the day, but continued overnight as well. The 24-hour mean diastolic blood pressure of the participants was improved as a result of the Hatha Yoga practice.
While 4.5 mmHg may not seem like a significant improvement, the truth is that even a small decrease in diastolic blood pressure can lead to drastic reductions in cardiovascular disease risks. According to the study author, even a 2 mmHg decrease can reduce coronary disease risk by up to 6%. The risk of stroke can decrease by as much as 15%.
The combination of breathing techniques, meditations, and physical exertion is believed to help decrease the drive of the sympathetic nervous system, improve cardiac function, and reduce blood pressure by resetting the baroreceptors. The study didn’t reveal the precise mechanisms through which yoga helps to reduce blood pressure, but the evidence is clear—yoga is very heart smart.
And don’t think you have to spend hours at a yoga session every day. This study found that just one hour per day (5-6 days a week) is more than enough to positively affect your blood pressure. Over the course of a few months, you can see drastic improvements in your cardiovascular health thanks to yoga.
1. Manchanda SC, Narang R, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U, Prabhakaran D, Dharmanand S, Rajani M, Bijlani R. “Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis with yoga lifestyle intervention“. J Assoc Physicians India. 2000 Jul; 48(7):687– 694.