The main reason for heart ailments to reach an epidemic level is the unhealthy lifestyle led by the present generation, which includes high-fat diet, lack of exercise, mental stress and may be use of tobacco.
Yoga, unlike presumed by many, does not mean just the practise of asanas. It also implies leading a holistic, healthy lifestyle, which is the greatest tool in controlling heart ailments. Apart from being an effective aid in stress management, it also promotes low-fat, high-fibre vegetarian diet, with more physical exercise and no smoking.
The beneficial effects of yoga in reversing heart ailments have been proven by several scientific studies. One such study conducted by Schmidt T et al in Acta Physiology and Pharmalogy (1998), which showed considerable improvement in blood pressure levels, LDL, and body mass index, when coupled with three months of pure vegetarian diet, and Kriya Yoga.
Another study published in the Journal of Association of Physicians (India) also showed considerable regression in coronary obstructions through practise of yoga ad following a low-fat vegetarian diet.
Dr. S C. Manchanda, Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, who has also been running a successful yoga camp for reversing coronary heart disease for the past ten years in Delhi, says that yoga has benefitted about 40,000 or more patients so far, with a success rate of 80-90 percent, apart from reducing hypertension and diabetes in patients, bringing down their dependency on medication by 25 percent.
When practising yoga for heart health, people suffering from coronary heart diseases can also stick to yogic diet for better results. The yogic diet recommends cereals, dal (pulses), vegetables and fruits, milk and yogurt (in minimal amounts). The diet should be fat-free and salt and white sugar intake should be kept to the minimum. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are best avoided.
Kapalabhati Pranayama: This is a pranayama technique which requires rapid successive breathing, while consciously controlling the movement of the diaphragm. This is an exercise for the entire respiratory system, forcing higher oxygen absorption within a short time. This ensures supply of richer blood to cardiovascular muscles, irrespective of its quantity, thereby removing the major problem.
Although yoga may not be a means to cure coronary artery disease, studies have confirmed remarkable improvements in the symptoms and conditions of coronary artery disease patients, when modern medicines have failed.