Benefits of yoga for atrial fibrillation
That is-this-dog facing down and the warrior pose have to do with atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm? According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, these and other movements of yoga can be very beneficial for the management of atrial fibrillation.
The study, conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center, monitoring nearly 50 people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation symptomatic (when your heart rate comes and goes intermittently) for a total of six months. For the first three months, participants were observed while they were on their normal lives from day to day. For the next three months, they participated in 60-minute Iyengar yoga classes twice a week led by a certified yoga instructor. Iyengar Yoga emphasizes detail, precision and alignment in the body.
Each yoga class included 10 minutes of pranayama (deep breathing exercises), 10 minutes of warm-up exercises, 30 minutes of yoga postures classic known as asanas, and 10 minutes of relaxation. The participants were also given an educational DVD and encouraged to practice their yoga postures at home every day.
The study found that people had fewer episodes of afib when they participated in yoga classes when they do not have. In addition, 22 percent of participants who have had episodes of afib prior to starting the yoga don was not as they participated in yoga classes.
The study also found that the scores of the participants on the tests of depression and anxiety improved after practicing yoga for three months, and their general mental health improved as well.
Put Yoga to work for you
If yoga be part of your plan for the management of atrial fibrillation? Anne Gillis, MD, president of the Heart Rhythm Society and medical director of the Program of the cardiac arrhythmia in Calgary, Canada, describes the study as “interesting” and said that it is clearly suggested that yoga could be beneficial for the management of atrial fibrillation.
However, she noted that this was a small study and should be confirmed by a larger randomized trial before it can be recommended definitively that yoga is a part of the management of atrial fibrillation. However, she said: “I would certainly recommend to a patient wishing to participate in any form of regular physical activity that yoga is an activity that they consider.”
Dr Gillis said the real benefit of yoga for people with atrial fibrillation may stem from the fact that it includes a component of relaxation. Relaxation can lower blood pressure and reduce stress, she said.
You can benefit from some form of relaxation that works for you. “Whether it’s doing yoga, taking a nice walk in nature where you don’t think the stress of the day, or curling up with a good book,” notes Gillis, you should find the relaxation therapy that works for you and practice daily.
Also, Gillis said, any physical activity consistently can improve the efficiency of your heart, and the more efficient your heart, the easier it is to get the oxygen you need into your blood.
Yoga Poses for heart health
Brian Leaf, director of the learning center New Leaf, a center of tutoring is holistic in Massachusetts, and author of misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, recommends these yoga relaxation poses as a starting point for people suffering from atrial fibrillation:
Breathing alternating nostril. Sit on a chair or on the floor with a blanket or a pillow below you. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril. Then, close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale slowly through the right. Then inhale through the right, switch fingers, and exhale through the left. Repeat this for a few minutes. “This breathing exercise balances the hemispheres the left brain and right,” said Leaf. Cat Lift and round. Begin on your hands and knees, so that you look like a coffee table. Inhale as you look up, allowing your back to arch, and then exhale slowly as you look down, rounding the back towards the top. Repeat 10 times. “This practice gently warms the system of the spinal column and the nervous system, and relaxes the upper back and shoulders,” said Leaf. Dog down. Start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be in front of your shoulders and your knees should be directly under your hips. Keep your hands on the floor, straighten your legs and lift your buttocks in the air to form a reversed V with the ground. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
Before you start
Talk to your care team for atrial fibrillation before starting a yoga program. Once you have the green light, start slowly and gently. Tell your doctor if you develop symptoms while practicing yoga. You want to be sure that you get all the benefits of the discipline, and not get hurt.
To make progress, consider working with a yoga instructor to modify poses to fit your physical limitations and the state of your heart.