O: The Oprah Magazine
Stay Flexible, Stay Well
Practitioners tout yoga for its mind-body benefits—flexibility, tones muscles, reduced stress, among others. More recently, scientists have begun to test yoga’s effect on serious medical conditions. The results have been impressive enough that investigators expect yoga will soon become part of the standard treatment for a number of disorders. Here are some of the promising findings to date.
Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, Ph.D., director of Columbia University’s Integrative Medicine Program. While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga’s meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.