March 4, 2015

Yoga for a Happy, Healthy Heart

Guest Blogger: Jyothi Larson

Yoga improves heart health. A yoga practice reduces stress and reduces blood pressure,
ultimately reducing the risk of heart disease. Studies published in the Journal of the American
College of Cardiology found yoga to have a significant benefit on cardiovascular health

(Lakkireddy et al, 2011; Lakkireddy et al, 2013).

In my own practice, and in all the classes I teach, I begin with breath awareness. If we are only
shallow breathing, our hearts never get a break.

Let’s get started!

Sitting in a comfortable position, place a hand on your belly. Notice that as you inhale, your belly
gets bigger, and as you exhale, your belly goes back towards the spine and gets smaller. Notice
the count of your breath. You want the exhale to be longer than the inhale. For example: if the in-
breath has a count of four, let the out-breath have a count of six to eight. By breathing this way,
we are releasing the old oxygen (carbon dioxide) and getting rid of toxins.


Here are some of my favorite “happy heart postures”:


These postures are chest openers. They increase lung capacity and enhance breathing. They also
stretch the pectoral muscles, strengthen back muscles, and help to correct posture.



Stick ’em Up (a gentler form of cobra)


Ease the effects of stress on the heart and mind.

Variation of Downward Dog


Forward Bend


Child’s Pose


Reclining Bound Angle Pose (my absolute favorite!)


Relax and let go!

Enjoy the poses–and here’s to a happy, healthy heart!

Lakkireddy, D; Atkins, D; Pillarisetti, J; Ryschon, K; Bommana, S; Drisko, J; Vanga, S; & Dawn,
B. (2013). “Effect of Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in
Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 61, Issue 11.
Lakkireddy, D.; Pillarisetti, J.; Atkins, D.; Vanga S.R.; Emert, M.; Pimentel, R.; Murray, C.;
Bommana, S.; Ryschon, K.; Berenbom, L.; Dawn, B.; Dendi, R.; & Drisko, J. (2011). “Effect of
Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in Paroxysmal Atrial
Fibrillation: The YOGA My Heart Study,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol.
57, Issue 14s1.

GUEST BLOGGER: Jyothi Larson teaches in NYC at Integral Yoga Institute, Prenatal Yoga Center, and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. You can find her at and reach her at

This blog was inspired by the American Recall Center in honor of American Heart Month



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