What Yoga Does to Your Cardiovascular System
Can yoga improve your cardiovascular health? Here’s a look at how yoga impacts this important bodily system…
It’s no secret that the circulatory system (aka the cardiovascular system) is essential to our health and well-being! This bodily system consists of the heart and the blood vessels, and its job is to keep the blood moving to different parts of the body in order to carry vital nutrients and oxygen to all of our organs.
Before we look at how yoga comes into play, here is a bit more information about how this vital bodily system works:
The heart is divided into four compartments that each have a different role. The compartment on the upper right is responsible for collecting the incoming blood that comes in from throughout the body, and moving it on to the lower right compartment. The lower right compartment sends the blood on to the lungs for purification. The purified blood is then returned to the heart – this time in the upper left ventricle, from where it is moved into the lower-left compartment and then back out as fresh, pure blood to the body.
The Blood Vessels
The blood is primarily carried through the main arteries, which are thick tube-like structures leading from the heart to various areas of the body. The arteries branch into many sub arteries which in turn will divide into thin-walled capillaries. The capillaries interact with the organs directly and due to their thin walls, they pass oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues that need them the most. The used resources are ejected from the tissue and back into the capillaries to be fed through specialized veins to return the used blood back to the heart to start the entire process once more. This is a difficult job as the pressure decreases with distance from the heart, so the veins are assisted by valves to regulate the flow.
The Lymphatic System
The important thing to understand about the way the circulatory system is set up is that it has two main parts: the blood system, and the lymphatic system. It is the job of the lymphatic system to remove waste from the circulatory system. The two different systems run almost side by side but while the blood system has a pump (the heart), the lymphatic system does not have a single organ designed to power its operations. This job falls to the muscles, which pump the lymphatic system by contracting and expanding.
This is where Yoga comes in.
Yoga & the Circulatory System
Yoga is a discipline unique in its combination of focus on body, mind, and spirit. The physical body component includes a series of poses (also known as asanas), which, when done properly and on a regular basis, may help to clear blockages in the circulatory system and keep everything moving smoothly. It also flexes, moves, and strengthens the muscles throughout the body very efficiently over time. This strengthening and constant working of these muscles help to pump the lymphatic system and make our body many times more efficient at the removal of waste matter. As a result, people who practice Yoga regularly may actually have an enhanced immune response system and be able to deal with infection and disease better than their non-Yogi counterparts.
Additionally, almost all yoga practices will typically include some form of breathing exercises, which are designed to focus our minds on breathing deeply and fully. Deep, full breaths improve our oxygen intake, which may help to increase efficient oxygen transport to all of our bodily tissues. The combination of enhanced oxygen absorption, together with the increased muscle movements and lymphatic stimulation mentioned above may help to significantly improve our overall health and reduce our risk of illness and disease.
As you can see, yoga can be very beneficial to the complex and interlocking cardiovascular system of the human body, helping to keep this important system in balance, thereby creating enhanced health and well-being.