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International Yoga Day 2024: Discover how yoga can alleviate inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease

Yoga offers a comprehensive approach to minimizing inflammation and enhancing heart health. Integrating yoga into daily routines can lead to reduced stress, improved blood pressure, better physical fitness, healthier lifestyle choices, and enhanced emotional well-being.

Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to injury or infection. When it becomes chronic, it can contribute to various diseases, including heart disease. Chronic inflammation plays a significant role in the development of atherosclerosis, which involves the buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. On International Yoga Day 2024, Dr. Bharat Kukreti, Director and Unit Head of Cardiology at Paras Health Gurugram, emphasizes that lifestyle changes such as incorporating yoga can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.

Reducing Stress Levels
Stress significantly contributes to chronic inflammation. Elevated levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, can increase inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular issues. Yoga includes deep breathing and relaxation techniques that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. This activation reduces cortisol levels, thereby decreasing stress and inflammation. Regular yoga practice fosters a more balanced stress response, protecting heart health.

Improving Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease. Yoga helps lower blood pressure and heart rate by calming the nervous system. Relaxation and stretching poses, such as Savasana (Corpse Pose) and Sukhasana (Easy Pose), support healthy blood pressure levels. Lower blood pressure reduces the strain on the heart and arteries, decreasing the risk of heart disease.

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

Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Yoga encourages mindfulness, leading to healthier lifestyle choices. The mindfulness developed through yoga practice often motivates individuals to improve dietary habits, reduce smoking, and engage in regular physical activity, all crucial for heart health. Mindfulness about 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 focus on mental well-being through meditation and breathing exercises can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Improved emotional well-being lowers inflammation levels and enhances heart health outcomes.

Collectively, these benefits lower the risk of heart disease. Including yoga in a comprehensive heart health strategy, as recommended by a healthcare provider, can be a valuable tool in preventing and managing cardiovascular conditions.


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