It’s American Heart Health Month: that special time of year when we reflect on what we’re doing to keep the old ticker in tune. While a cardiovascular workout is an excellent way to strengthen your heart, yoga offers a less intense supplement to your fitness plan.
The American Heart Association says yoga can help lower your blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate, reduce inflammation in the body, boost circulation and increase muscle tone. Yogis swear by its calming effects, making it perfect for anyone who suffers from anxiety or stress overload.
"Stress sends the entire physical system into overdrive," Garrett Sarley, president and CEO of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Mass., told the Yoga Health Foundation. "The muscles tense, the heart beats faster, breathing patterns change, and if the cause of stress isn't discontinued, the body secretes more hormones that increase blood sugar levels, raising blood pressure. Yoga is one of the few stress-relief tools that has a positive effect on all the body systems involved."
Just five minutes of yoga can make your heart happy and leave you free of stress.
Here are three easy examples of poses you can try on days when you’re not doing your cardio workout: