Celebrate American Heart Month by reducing your heart stress with yoga

BCBSKS disease management and wellness nurse Julie Waters, RN, BSN, MSEd, CCP, explains how yoga can help relieve stress and make a positive impact on the health of your heart.

Celebrate American Heart Month by dialing down your stress level! Stress can cause your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise, increasing the work of your heart and your risk for heart disease. Stress can also hurt your heart indirectly when it leads you to develop unhealthy habits. This happens when stress leads us to eat unhealthy foods, drink too much alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or choose inactivity over exercise. These habits are not only harmful, but also ineffective in relieving stress in a lasting way.

Yoga offers a powerful way to relieve stress through a combination of physical poses, breathing techniques and relaxation. Learn a few poses and you will be able to take a few minutes wherever you are to relieve stress. To have a long-term impact, you may want to look into taking yoga classes. Check out your local humane society as some of them offer cat and puppy yoga or the parks and recreation department for low-cost classes. You can also find free yoga videos through WebMD and YouTube.

Want to learn more? Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic on yoga and stress with links to videos of poses.

Disclaimer: To minimize chances of injury, practice yoga with a qualified instructor and avoid extreme poses until deemed ready by your instructor.  If you are older, pregnant or have health conditions discuss your needs with your instructor and your healthcare provider.

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