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Heart health and yoga

The benefits of yoga include reduced blood pressure, pulse, and -- most importantly -- risk of heart disease.

Heart health and yoga go hand-in-hand. Yoga is said toenhance heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, boost the immune system, and enhance cognitive ability. There's no doubt it also improves flexibility and contributes to a sense of overall well-being.

According to research from Yale University School of Medicine (2004), its practice, along with meditation at least three times a week, may reduce blood pressure, pulse and -- most importantly -- risk of heart disease.

One of the great things about it is, that like walking, just aboutanyone can do it, anytime, anywhere (when I travel, I simply take my mat with me)and at their own speed.

There are many ways you can participate - start by joining a class, then continue your practice at home with video instruction. If no classes are available close by, or you prefer the privacy of your own home, there are many excellent beginner videos to get you started.

My favorite yoga website is Wai Lana Yoga. Wai Lana is best known for her exquisitely produced PBS TV series. These as well as other instructional DVDs and music CDs are all available. You'll also find a full range of yoga related items including mats, balls, blocks, bolsters, straps, etc. This is a first class site with top quality products. They provide excellent service to their customers.

You won't need a lot of equipment, just some comfortable, stretchy clothing. However, purchasing a proper yoga mat will make your practice more comfortable.

Set aside specific days and times. You might want to alternate with the days that you are walking or doing other physical activities.

If you have never done yoga before, a class maybe the best way to get started. Not only will you have the benefit of the instructor's guidance, you will have made an "appointment" to go - and if you are like me, once you've paid to attend, you won't want to waste your money!

Check out offerings in your local community health clubs. Be sure to let your instructor know your medical condition. Look for an instructor who will provide modifications specific to heart issues.

After you have taken a class or two you will have a much better idea about the suitability of yoga for you and what type or style you like. Then you can order a few DVDs that match your style and level to continue your practice at home.

There are several types or styles you can choose from. For example, I adore Ashtanga, which is Vinyasa-based (which means breath-synchronized movement), and is strenuous. Others prefer a more relaxing practice. You may want to observe or try out some of the different varieties before you find the type that's right for you.

If you are interested in your heart health and yoga appeals to you, one of the above approaches will be the one for you.

Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to check it out with your doctor.

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