Yoga and Arteriosclerosis

Scientists have not performed enough research to prove that the following claims are true.

“Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues.

Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic, but over time, the walls in your arteries can harden, a condition commonly called: hardening of the arteries.” -Mayo Clinic

Arteriosclerosis can happen in the arteries of the heart, in which case, the condition is then called angnia.

Studies are being conducted, such as— Reversal of Coronary Atherosclerosis by Yoga Lifestyle Intervention (the terms arteriosclerosis, and atherosclerosis are often used interchangeably) by S. C. Manchanda, R. Narang, K. S. Reddy, U. Sachdeva, D. Prabhakaran, S. Dharmanand, and M. Rajani— and scientist and yogis alike are working very hard in the scientific field to uncover and validate the reason and logic behind the healing benefits of yoga through the scientific method.

But— until that happens— yoga teachers will still be teaching what they have been teaching for tens of thousands of years with great success to increase longevity and prevention.

Here’s the scoop on yoga and arteriosclerosis, specifically the condition called angnia:

  1. Stress affects you heart.

    There are two types of stress: distress and eustress. Eustress is the good kind of stress, like when you get the promotion you have been waiting for your whole life, and you want to cry; it’s time to celebrate!

    Distress is the bad kind of stress, the stress that you have when you still have the same items on your task list from last month and your employer is starting to get frustrated with you, and now, your job is on the line. Unfortunately, in our society, distress is known has the “epidemic of the 21st century,” (HCA Today).

    Increased stress can be one cause of angina. Stress can make your blood pressure go up, and high blood pressure is a risk factor for angina because it can harm arteries and make them more likely to develop atherosclerosis. -Honor Society of Nursing.

2. Healthy arteries are supposed to be flexible and elastic.

Stretching enables your heart muscles to work more effectively, increases blood flow to the heart muscle, and releases the tension in and around the heart.

To increase the elasticity and flexibility of the heart, yoga poses that flex and contract the heart muscles are recommended. Poses like forward fold, cobra, rabbit, camel, plough, fish, and wheel all are poses that increase the flexibility of the heart region, compressing and contracting the heart region.

Twisting through the thoracic region of the spine, is also a great way to increase the flexibility of the heart. Poses like revolved easy pose, revolved crescent lunge, revolved side angle pose, revolved triangle supine twist, and thread the needle are recommended.

3. Relaxation is the opposite of tension.

We hold stress physically in our bodies through tension. One major place we hold tension is around the heart. The heart is a very mysterious organ, because not only is it a muscle, but it is also a home for major emotions. Therefore, when we go through stressing situations, if we aren’t mindful, we can hold onto the events in our muscles, until we mindfully release those tensions.

Mindful relaxation is a great way to let go of tension. Active relaxation, yoga nidra, and body scans are a few ways to noticeably increase your overall relaxation, and prevent the hardening of the heart.

Try it!