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More than a stretch: Yoga’s benefits may extend to the heart

April 15, 2015

About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
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Sudhanva Char
May 22, 2015

Your columns on Yoga are very interesting to me, a certified yoga teacher. I wish to mention that scientific studies have proven yoga as effective. Controlled clinical studies have been underway for several decades especially in India, the home of Yoga. This is despite the fact that the yoga system of health care has been in existence for several millennia with enormous amounts of therapeutic evidence about its efficacy. Medical journals such as JAMA, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, New England Journal of Medicine and many others have published research papers underscoring the benefits of yoga practices for both physical and mental ailments not just in a placebo-like manner, but in statistically significant scales. I have a few volumes of outcomes of dozens of controlled studies in yoga therapy undertaken by the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, stressing that yoga is more consciousness-based rather than matter-based. Wellness and robust health can be promoted naturally and health care costs can be rationalized. I see however, considerable circumspection in taking it on board even where clinical evidence is unambiguous about its advantages in issues such as cardiac illnesses, diabetes, mental depression, stress management and many others. Medical practice can only be so much richer and so much more successful by accepting yogic techniques.

April 24, 2015

Anytime is a good time to practice yoga. Yes, you can do it before going to bed.

April 20, 2015

When is the best time to practice yoga? Can I do it before going to bed?

Patricia Lotterman
April 20, 2015

Julie Corliss! Great article.
Warmed my heart (pun intended) to read, “there’s nowhere to go, and nothing to do.”

Bala Subramaniam
April 20, 2015

As was pointed out Chandra Rangnath, yoga has four limbs. Hatha yoga by itself is only one limb. The key to all the learning and the practice is the correct way of delivery and learning. Doing body postures is to make sure your body is not in the way of meditation.

I would strongly suggest looking into the following link, As a physician, I would say we are only beginning to scientifically understand the benefits of yoga. Needless to say we are only skimming the surface.

Chandra Rangnath
April 18, 2015

Hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga are both names for the four ‘limbs’ of Patanjali maharishi’s eight-fold practise (called the ‘asthaanga’ – eight limbs) , viz ‘aasana’ (the postures), ‘pranaayama’ (control of the breath), ‘dhaarana’ (concentration) and ‘dhyaana’ (meditation). However, yoga practise is fully effective only when the other ‘limbs’ of the asthaanga are integrated with our exercises and mediation, viz having pure thoughts, keeping the body clean, being contented, restraint in sense-pleasures, study of sacred literature and silent repetition of a mantra, if possible. Yes, we can make a start in yoga by doing the exercises, controlled breathing and silent sitting…but to reap the full benefit, the other do’s and dont’s should be gradually embraced (or shall I say, the other limbs will present themselves to the sincere practitioner quite naturally ! ).

April 20, 2015

Amen to that!

Sherry Longbottom, RN, CYT, CPYT, Holistic Fitness Nurse
April 17, 2015

Excellent article! As a certified yoga instructor and a registered nurse, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of yoga for physical and emotional health. It’s extremely therapeutic when taught correctly. Thank you for the wonderful article.

David Cornelius
April 17, 2015

I’m not much into reading, but somehow I got to read many articles in your webpage. It’s fantastic how interesting it is for me to visit you very often.

April 17, 2015

Look quite useful,would like to join the easy yoga /meditation for mental relaxation and physical fitness.I am 65years of age,what is your suggestion

Harold Feinleib
April 18, 2015

Google Iyengar yoga in your area. It is especially good for older people. The use of props allow anyone to do the pose even if they have limited flexibility. As you become more flexible over time the props are adjusted.

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