Try yoga for heart health

For centuries, yoga has been known for its positive effects on mind and body. A new study by doctors at The University of Kansas Hospital has found yoga is also an effective therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm disorder that is the leading cause of stroke. Yoga may also reduce anxiety, depression and emotional and work-related stress. Try these poses and see for yourself!

Yoga is unique, as it encourages the mind-body connection. The poses detailed here will increase your flexibility and may even help your heart.

NOTE: Yoga should be practiced under the supervision of a yoga instructor. Start slowly, and if it hurts, stop. Do not push through pain.

Child’s pose

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog:
    • Start on all fours with hands a few inches in front of your shoulders
    • Hands are shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart
    • Lift your knees off the ground pushing evenly on your palms
    • Sit bones point to the sky, thighs push back, straightening the legs (no not lock knees)
    • Pull your bellybutton in
    • Push your chest toward your thighs
    • Look between your legs or toward your bellybutton
    • Drop your knees to the floor.
  • Spread your knees as far as you can comfortably but keep your feet touching.
  • Your belly should be resting between your thighs and your forehead touching your yoga mat.
  • Stay and rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute in Child's pose.

Cow and cat pose

Cow pose is a warm-up pose typically used together with Cat pose

  • Begin in a tabletop position (on hands and knees) with your spine relaxed. Center your head in a neutral position, looking straight ahead.
  • On an inhale, curl your toes under.
  • Drop your stomach.
  • Bring your gaze to the ceiling.
  • Exhale and come back to the tabletop position.
  • Repeat several times. 

Beginners can draw their shoulders away from the ears to protect their neck.

Cat pose

  • Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. 
  • Knees should be directly below your hips and your arms perpendicular to the floor. Bring your gaze to the floor.
  • Exhale and round your spine.
  • Drop your head between your shoulders.
  • Don’t force your chin to your chest, but bring your gaze to your navel.
  • Inhale and come back to the tabletop position.

Beginners may place a folded blanket under their knees to protect from pressure or pain.

Seated Staff pose

  • Sit down with your legs outstretched in front of you.
  • Flex your feet. It’s okay if your heels come off the floor.
  • Elongate your spine on an inhale.
  • Stack your shoulders so they are directly on top of your hips.
  • Hold for 1 minute or longer

Beginners may put padding under their buttocks if there is discomfort. 

Corpse pose

  • Lie down on your back. 
  • Let your feet fall out to either side.
  • Bring your arms close, but slightly away from your body, and lay your palms up.
  • Relax your body and let it get heavy.
  • Breathe naturally, and allow it to deepen. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • To come out of the pose, begin to wiggle your fingers and toes.
  • Keep your eyes closed as you bring your knees to your chest and roll over to one side.
  • Come to the sitting position.

Beginners, and anyone who experiences back pain during this pose, should bend their knees and keep feet on the floor.

Find out more about how yoga may help people with heart rhythm disorders in our Yoga My Heart clinical trial.