Yoga and Heart Health

Yoga and Heart Health

Exploring the different ways yoga can improve and maintain heart health - By Emma Mills

Reading time: 3 minutes

Heart health is central to your overall health. It is responsible for pumping nutrient-rich blood throughout your body, it supplies oxygen while removing toxins and waste.

So its safe to say looking after it, should be a priority!

Although heart disease has many risk factors including family history, age etc. you can take steps to lower your chances of developing heart disease and maintaining great heart health, here are a few tips on how;

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco – Cigarette smoke (even second hand smoke) lowers the oxygen in the blood, this raises blood pressure and heart rate, putting extra stress on the heart as it trys to get oxygen to the body and brain.
  • Eat a healthy rainbow of foods – Aim to include a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables with each meal. Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Add whole-grains, fish and lean meats.
  • Keep an eye on your weight – Being overweight especially around the middle of the body raises the risk of heart disease and could lead to conditions such as high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which in turn can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Get enough sleep – Most adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night this can help prevent obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.
  • Cut out the stress – Ongoing stress can cause a deterioration in mental and physical health, it can put you at risk of higher blood pressure and heart disease. Try to determine the main source of stress to minimise or diminish it.
  • Get active – Regular daily exercise can help play a part in preventing heart disease as well as managing weight gain, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, the recommended amount of movement a day is 30-60minutes, this is where yoga fits in perfectly!

If you are new yoga, start small and slowly, don’t push yourself, watch your body over time as it becomes at one with each pose, you’ll surprise yourself with how willing your body and mind are to practice this wonderful art.

Once you’ve found a time in the day you can practice yoga, perhaps in the morning before the world wakes or in the evening after a long day at work, roll your mat out and begin to arrive. The breathing (pranayama) that is practised during yoga brings more oxygen into the body and reduces blood pressure, take slow deep inhales and exhales, drop the shoulders away from the ears and spend some time allowing the body and mind to find calm.

When you feel ready to begin your practice, move mindfully. Even an experienced yoga practitioner should take warming up seriously to prevent injury.

If you are taking an in-person class ensure to let your teacher know if you have heart disease or issues regarding the heart as they can make adjustments and use modifications to ensure you get the most out of your practice in the safest way.

Or if you’ve picked an at home practice some great poses to have a go at include;

  • Bridge Pose

  • Mountain Pose

  • Tree Pose

  • Chair Pose

  • Corpse Pose

  • Cow Pose

  • Easy Pose

Restorative yoga using pillows, blankets and props can have just as many benefits as a power or Vinyasa flow, yoga is not a competition, it is an individual practice that should meet each persons needs differently.

But I must address a word of caution when practising yoga if you have experienced a heart event, not all yoga poses are advisable and some heart-intense poses which should be avoided or modified if possible include; headstand, supported headstand, wheel, low and high lunge.

Allow a short gap between each pose, give yourself sufficient time to breathe and move in harmony.

If at any point you feel pain, tightness or short of breath, stop immediately to recover, seek help if necessary.

Overall, enjoy! Taking time to find movement and calm should feel amazing to you and become part of your everyday life.


Emma Mills

Emma is a 200hr qualified yoga teacher, specialising in Hatha Yoga and breathwork, aside from this she has completed many CPD yoga courses and recently completed a 'flexibility workshop'.

She is currently teaching voluntarily online and being inclusive to every student is always at the forefront of her mind when setting up a class.

Using social media and the discovery of Instagram she has been able to reach out and share the joys of practicing yoga with many other likeminded people.