Yoga Steadies Heartbeat
As if we need more reasons to practice yoga, heres another one. A new study shows that regular yoga exercises can cut in half the number of irregular heartbeat incidence, known as atrial fibrillation, by half.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common form of irregular heartbeat; about 2.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition. AF affects the two upper heart chambers (atria). Although the condition itself is not life-threatening, it can lead to complications like stroke and is often anxiety-producing in patients.
The study, conducted at the University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, included 49 patients who suffered with atrial fibrillation (AF). During the three-month research period, patients were engaged in three 45-minute sessions of yoga per week. The program involved breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation. The results showed that practicing yoga reduced the number of irregular heart beat incidence from an average of 3.8 episodes to 2.1 over the three-month period of the study.
Experts believe deep breathing during yoga reduces the number of irregular heartbeats by lowering the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the bodys fight or flight mechanism which includes releasing heart pounding adrenaline. Yogas effect lowers the release of adrenaline, thus reducing the episodes of AF.