A decade or so ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sun Salutations were the sole preserve of a few Byron Bay types. But its benefits extend further than toned upper arms: experts have found that yoga can boost heart health.
To be more specific, yoga could be an effective treatment for atrial fibrillation, or A-fib. Doctors currently treat this condition, which is characterised by a quick, irregular heartbeat, with either drugs or surgery. Recent research presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session has revealed that A-fib patients who stretched into hour-long Iyengar-yoga sessions three times a week for three months slashed their number of A-fib episodes by nearly 45%.
Even more astounding, during the study, 22% of Iyengar-practising patients had no A-fib episodes at all, reports cardiologist Dr Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, director of the Center for Excellence in Atrial Fibrillation and Complex Arrhythmias at The University of Kansas Hospital in the US. It’s certainly great news for heart patients, but these findings can benefit the rest of us, too: study subjects also reported feeling less anxious and depressed, and they experienced an improved quality of life—something that the classes’ 15-minute relaxation sessions may have contributed towards.
Experts believe that yoga may decrease sudden surges in the autonomic nervous system, which controls bodily functions such as heart rate and breathing. “We don’t yet know enough to suggest that yoga replace medication, but it’s a good complementary treatment,” says Lakkireddy. What It Means for You Less stress, better balance and more energy are great reasons to roll out your yoga mat, and who knows what other health benefits are hiding in yoga’s poses? Research is ramping up.findyoga.com.au..