Day Five of 28 Days of Heart Health: Watch Your Pressure; Breathe Easy.

It’s official. In a study conducted by Yale University, people who practiced yoga at least three times a week reduced their risk of hypertension and heart disease. This is good news, especially for African American women, who are at high risk of both high blood pressure and heart disease. Many of us carry tremendous amounts of stress that puts a lot of wear and tear on our hormones, heart and blood vessels. So don’t pay any mind to some well-meaning (don’t)-know-it-all telling you that practicing yoga is idolatry, especially if the one who’s admonishing you is stuffing their face with friend chicken and sweet potato pie.

And don’t think you have to pack in a bunch of hours working to reap the benefits–”It doesn’t take years of lotus positions and meditation to see improvement — the study’s volunteers had measurable improvement in just six weeks,” he says. “The yoga and meditation program included 40 minutes of postural yoga, 20 minutes of deep relaxation, 15 minutes of yoga breathing, and 15 minutes of meditation.” says Pecky Peck, writer for WebMD.

As a slavish yoga-head myself, I can attest to the benefits of the practice. I suffer from a mild anxiety disorder so the focused practice, the breathing and concentration quiets my racing mind. I do a lot of my own vinyasas, but for beginners who aren’t ready to go to a potentially intimidating yoga studio can pick a few dvd’s. Here are my recommendations:

Shiva Rea is by far my favorite. Be ready though–it’s tough. Work your way up on these.

 


This one is pretty good for beginners, and I like the way the doctor explains how each move helps a specific body function.