Whenever you search “yoga for heart health,” over 300 million results pop up. Seems everyone agrees that yoga is good for your heart. Surgeons, medical doctors, and many cardiac hospitals all agree with people like me — simple yoga teachers who are not medically trained — that yoga improves your heart.
In fact, it seems everyone agrees that any yoga will be good for your heart. However, in reviewing the best of the health recommendations, what I’ve found is that yoga poses break down into three major categories: twists and folds, chest openers, and safe inversions. All of these are a part of why yoga is so effective — they help you break out of your stress cycle, which can be a major contributor to heart disease.
If you have time to do a complete yoga session, be sure to warm up and cool down. On my YouTube Channel I help you with that using my Efficient Warm Up Series. Finishing with Savasana (Corpse Pose) while you use a meditative mind. If you don’t have enough time to do a complete session, you can gently sprinkle yoga into your daily life at home or in your office. If you don’t even have time for that, then just pause and take a few deep breaths.
Opportunities to twist are all around you. Twists help to cleanse and stimulate all the organs and soft tissues housed in the torso not just the heart. The trick to make twists effective is to move slowly and hold them deeply keeping your belly relaxed and your breath small. They can be done easily whenever you are sitting by grounding both feet, cross left hand to your right leg, and rotate to the right. Holding your hand to your leg is your Counter Point, the place of stabilization that helps you go deeper into the twist. Twist both sides.
Like twists, forward folds involve squeezing. Folds consist of bending so you are pressing your belly and chest into your legs. If you’re sitting, be sure you lift up out of your hips and low back before you place your torso on your lap. Note that these forward folds are different from doing ones to stretch your hamstrings. For hamstring stretches to evolve that require a Belly Well — a space you create by separating your legs to make room for your belly to fold into. Any of the belly-down poses — Cobra, Boat, or Locust, for example — will also create this press of your belly and chest.