Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, but has more recently become popular in the West. Poses, also known as asanas, improve strength and flexibility. Breathing techniques and meditation are also part of yoga, which help facilitate relaxation. When practiced regularly, yoga helps improve a variety of health conditions including reducing your resting heart rate.
A resting heart rate is determined by the number of heart beats per minute while completely at rest. According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. In general, a lower heart rate indicates better physical fitness. However, a variety of factors such as fitness level, emotions, medications and body size affect your resting heart rate. Determine your heart rate by placing your index and middle fingers just below the base of your thumb. Have a timer ready. Start with zero and count the number of heartbeats in 10 seconds. Multiply that number by six to get your heart rate.
Yoga is a cardio exercise that improves the heart function. According to the American Heart Association, you should perform 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to experience the overall health benefits of physical activity. Performing yoga poses, also known as asanas, raises your heart rate to improve your cardiovascular system’s function. Some styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, provide a more intense workout than other styles. Regular yoga practice improves your heart rate.
Pranayama, which is breathing techniques in yoga, can help lower your resting heart rate. Yoga incorporates a variety of breathing techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing or Breath of Fire, which is a fast-paced technique that stimulates the diaphragm. Breathing slowly activates the parasympathetic nervous system to slow down your heart and decrease your blood pressure. A 2011 study posted in “Heart Views” found that a short-term practice of pranayama and meditation significantly reduced the resting heart rate.
The “International Journal of Biological and Medical Research” published a study in 2011 that determined that yoga significantly reduced resting heart rates in 50 patients after six months of practice. A study published in a 2002 edition of "Psychological Reports" found that yoga-based guided meditations reduced the heart rates in 35 male participants.
- International Journal of Biological & Medical Research: Effect of Yoga on Heart Rate and Blood Pressure and Its Clinical Significance
- Mayo Clinic: What's a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
- American Heart Association: Yoga and Heart Health
- Yoga Journal: Slow Down and Breathe
- Heart Views: Effect of Short-Term Pranayama and Meditation on Cardiovascular Functions in Healthy Individuals
- Yoga Journal: Prescriptions for Pranayama
- Psychological Reports: Yoga-based Guided Relaxation Reduces Sympathetic Activity Judged from Baseline Levels