Yoga and meditation have been practiced in India for thousands of years. In the last few decades, these two practices have flourished in North America. Yoga studios have popped up between bars and restaurants on main streets and meditation classes are offered everywhere, from churches to libraries.
There are many health benefits to doing yoga and meditation. In Western culture, the two practices have been utilized for their ability to reduce the symptoms of stress associated with a driven and fast-paced society. It’s no secret that meditation and yoga can calm the mind and unwind the body, encouraging relaxation.
Now researchers have been investigating yoga and meditation for cardiovascular benefits. And, according to one study, both practices are great for lowering blood pressure.
A team of scientists wanted to find out if the short-term practice of pranayama (controlled breathing techniques) and meditation ushered in improvements in the heart functions of healthy individuals. Fifty subjects (24 males and 26 females), ranging in age from 20 to 60 years were recruited for the study. The participants underwent two hours of daily yoga practice for 15 days. The classes were taught by a certified yoga teacher. The researchers measured pre- and post-yoga cardiovascular functions. These included pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean blood pressure.
The research team found that there was a significant reduction in resting pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure after practicing pranayama and meditation for 15 days. These cardiovascular benefits were the same for both the men and women, regardless of age, who participated in the study. The researchers concluded with this health advice: short-term regular yoga and meditation practice had beneficial effects on cardiovascular functions irrespective of age, gender, and body mass index in normal healthy individuals.
So follow their health tip and add some yoga and meditation to your weekly routine. You can go it alone and do both exercises at home whenever you have a bit of free time. Or, better yet, join a class and reap a few social benefits as well while you lower your blood pressure.
For another health benefit associated with yoga, read Proof That Yoga Can Beat This Kind of Pain.