Yoga and Breathing is the Secret to Healthier Heart, and Longer Life

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Heart Health Principles
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

From left, Dr. Sinatra with Dr. Bali at the 36th annual conference for Spiritual Science Fellowship.Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone who truly inspires you? That’s what happened to me this summer in Montreal, Canada. I was attending the 36th annual conference for Spiritual Science Fellowship when I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Madan Bali.

If you take a look at this photo of the two of us, you’ll probably be as surprised as I was to learn that Dr. Bali is actually 87 years old. From his fit physique and the spring in his step to his clear eyes and quick mental processing, Dr Bali exudes light and energy. The secret to his incredibly youthful appearance is that he practices yoga—in fact he’s a yoga master.

At that conference, Dr. Bali and I spoke extensively about all things yoga. You see, most folks think of yoga in terms of the physical posturing involved, and the bodily organs that those positions stimulate. For example, the headstand pose stimulates the thyroid gland. But, for a cardiologist like me yoga’s benefits to the heart and cardiovascular system are about the breath work involved with yoga.

The slow, deep breathing employed in yoga benefits your heart in several important-and extremely powerful—ways by:

  • Calming and relaxing your body and mind
  • Relaxing the arterial walls
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Enhancing your heart rate variability

 But you don’t need to practice yoga to get these benefits. Dr. Bali gave me simple breathing exercises you can try whether you’re doing yoga moves, or something as simple as walking.

Just close your mouth and inhale deeply and slowly through your nostrils. Exhale through pursed lips in short puffs until all the air is expelled. Repeat the inhale-exhale cycle for three to five minutes.

As you do this breathing exercise, focus your mind on your intention that this activity is the most important thing that you can do for your heart. It will keep you focused on being in the moment and experiencing a positive outcome.

For more of Dr. Bali’s yoga wisdom, you can visit his website at www.yogabliss.ca.

Now it’s your turn: Have you tried yoga?

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