Yoga Studios Brattleboro VT
Kripalu, Phoenix Rising, Lotus Palm
McIndoe Falls, VT
Hot Yoga Flow, Gentle, Prenatal, Pilates
Kripalu, Iyengar, Integral, Anusara, Vin
Middletown Springs, VT
The Heart of Yoga
The Heart of Yoga
A 5,000-year-old approach to a
Can the calming rhythms of yoga help your heart the same way as an energetic 30-minute walk? The answer for many with cardiac disease is a resounding “yes.”
“I would call it a lifesaver,” says John Periolat, 76, of Charlottesville, Virginia, who attended Cardiac Yoga classes at the University of Virginia following a massive heart attack 14 years ago. “But I don’t think it’s widespread enough.”
A modified form of yoga focusing on cardiac patients, yoga for heart disease reduces heart rate and blood pressure in addition to calming the nervous system. It also increases exercise capacity and lowers inflammation levels, as shown by an ever-growing number of research studies. Patients use mats, pillows and chairs to ensure comfort while they perform yoga’s gentle exercises; although it may sound like barely enough motion to break a sweat, the positive effects of cardiovascular yoga are measurable.
Eight weeks of yoga helped to safely improve overall quality of life in 19 heart failure patients, even reducing markers of inflammation associated with heart failure, according to a November 2007 study by researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Meanwhile adults with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that significantly raises cardiovascular risk, were able to reduce their waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides after practicing yoga for just three months (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice 12/07).
“Cardiac Yoga changed my life,” says the now-retired Periolat, a self-described former type A personality who lives at a more relaxed pace and spends his time volunteering—a far cry from his days as a Navy captain flying F-4 Phantom fighters. Periolat studied with Mala Cunningham, PhD, counseling psychologist and founding director of the Cardiac Yoga Program in Charlottesville. “I was in a hole so deep, I couldn’t see any light,” Periolat says. “Dr. Cunningham’s Cardiac Yoga classes yanked me out of it and put me on my feet again.”