By Nizha Periaswamy

One may think that being stricken with a heart ailment means the end to practising yoga.

The fact is, yoga patients can benefit from yoga, as the art has all it needs to help people who are recovering from cardiac episodes.

A study published in the Indian Health Journal (2014) said that those who join yoga as part of their cardiac rehabilitation programme displayed significant improvements in blood flow and cholesterol levels, compared to people who are treated with a more traditional cardiac rehab routine.

However, there are specific asanas that may not be suitable for heart patients.

Therapy yoga or restorative yoga, which is much gentler and uses props, such as chairs, pillows, bolsters and blankets, facilitate a much more cardiac-friendly practice.

Practicing the modified yoga poses regularly can help a person deal with stress, and help heart patients cope with their condition, besides making them feel better.

The Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in a research, has acknowledged yoga as a practice that regulates heartbeat and helps one distress.

The recent International Conference on Yoga for Heart Care by the Ministry of AYUSH, at Mysuru, Karnataka, revealed that the number of people suffering from heart ailments is on the rise and yoga could reduce the chances of one being stricken by the disease.

Now, let's look at the poses and breathing techniques in yoga that can can help heart patients have a better life.
Helps strengthen the cardiac reserve

Pose: Tadasana (Standing tall pose)
Soothes the nerves and brings down the heart rate

Pose: Padahastasana (Hand under foot pose)
These poses improve the contractility of the heart (inherent strength and vigour of the heart's contraction during systole)

Pose: Parvatanasana (Mountain pose)
It lengthens cardiac muscles, and improves the contraction of heart, as well as improving the organ's blood pumping ability.

Pose: Ustrasana (Camel pose)
Twisting stretches the wall of the heart, so the diaphragm is squeezed and the endurance of the heart is increased.

Pose: Artha Matsyendrasana (Half-fish pose)
Pranayama is an amazing tool to improve heart health. By consistently practising pranayama, one can reduce or increase their heart rate. This means that one can gain control over the involuntary mechanism of the body. Pranayama is one of the most encouraged yoga practices for chronic illness patients, especially cardiac patients.

Pranayama: Anulom Vilom (Alternate nostril breathing) and Bhastrika (Bellow breathing)
Dyana may help lower blood pressure, aid in smoking cessation and reduce one's mortality risk from heart disease. Studies also show that meditation causes healthier arteries and improves blood flow to the heart.

Dyana: Consult your doctor

Yoga is definitely a wholesome routine for good healthcare. It takes care of the body by aligning the functions of internal organs to improve cardicovascular efficiency. However, it is advisable to consult a physician or heart specialistr to know how far one's body can go in a yoga session. Inform your instructor about your health condition and limits, if any.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Pixabay