It's well known that cardiovascular exercise helps your heart, but yoga can improve your heart's functions as well. In a study by the Yale University School of Medicine, researchers found that adding three days of yoga and meditation to a weekly routine may reduce your risk of heart disease [source: Peck].
One yoga pose that can be good for your heart is the Chair pose. "Chair pose can be a great addition to [a routine] since it's a rather challenging pose that engages many areas of the body at once and therefore requires the body to amp up blood flow and breath to get more oxygen to those areas," says Biegun.
To perform the Chair pose, you'll follow these simple steps:
- Stand with your feet together.
- Inhale, swinging your arms out to the side and above your head, with palms facing inward.
- Exhale and bend your knees so that your torso and the tops of your thighs create a right angle -- you should look like you're getting ready to sit in a chair, with your tailbone tucked under.
- Hold this position for up to a minute.
- Stand upright while inhaling, then exhale and lower your arms back down.
If this position is difficult at first, use a wall for stabilization. After bending your knees, let your tailbone touch the wall. As you get stronger, you can stop using the wall and gradually work up to deepening the knee bend.
Along with improving your heart, yoga can also lower your blood pressure. Next up, learn a pose that won't get your pulse racing.