Yoga, with its meditation, breathing exercises and sometimes-difficult poses, has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Because practicing yoga is known for its ability to bring inner peace, the activity is often recommended to heart and cancer patients as a way to relieve stress. Research suggests that yoga can lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Why isn’t yoga recommended by more doctors and health specialists? Yoga is cheap, it works, but there’s little profit to businesses like what comes from a drug or a catheter or a stent. Both yoga and meditation can bring equilibrium between the involuntary, autonomic system’s two components: the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic system (slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure).
Meditation practitioners generally experience a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Some individuals experience a decline at rest of 7-15 beats per minute improvement. Some studies indicate that meditation lowers the heart rate more than biofeedback, progressive relaxation, other therapies, or simple sitting, while other studies indicate that these various activities have an equivalent effect on the heart rate. Can doing the downward-facing dog keep your heart from racing out of control? Can 20-30 minutes of meditation a day keep the doctor away? Research indicates that practicing yoga and meditation can do the job for you. So do it.