Yoga for Cardiovascular Health

We're always looking for more data to add to our index, so if you know of a yoga research study that you don't see here, pass it along to us. Send relevant scholarly articles to Yoga Alliance® supports the continued research on yoga’s benefits, and we will continue to update the page with more research on more health topics. 

Last updated: July 19, 2017

Yoga for Cardiovascular Health

Yoga Alliance recommends that any individuals with health concerns consult with a qualified health care practitioner to discuss whether yoga is right for them, but we are aware that yoga can be used in the medical treatment context by appropriately qualified and licensed healthcare practitioners. Yoga Alliance credentials do not serve as qualifications for the diagnosis or treatment of health conditions.

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“In this pilot study, a standardized 8-week yoga program was safe and well tolerated among adolescent and young adult CF [cystic fibrosis] patients with mild to moderate lung disease. This study may be helpful to yoga instructors who are interested in working with CF patients.”
–Ruddy et al (2017), Global Advance in Health and Medicine


“Findings indicate that IAYT [Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy] benefits coal miners with COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], reducing dyspnea; fatigue and PR [pulse rate], and improving functional performance and peripheral capillary SpO2%. Yoga can now be included as an adjunct to conventional therapy for pulmonary rehabilitation programs for COPD patients.”
–Ranjita et al (2016), Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine



“Respiratory yoga training may be beneficial for the elderly healthy population by improving respiratory function and sympathovagal balance.”
– Santaella et al (2011),  BMJ Open



“In patients with paroxysmal AF [atrial fibrillation], yoga improves symptoms, arrhythmia burden, heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and depression scores, and several domains of QoL.”
– Lakkireddy et al (2011),  Journal of the American College of Cardiology



“Compared with the control condition, participants in each of the physical activity groups [cardiovascular exercise or Hatha yoga] reported a decrease in craving to smoke, an increase in positive affect, and a decrease in negative affect.”
– Elibero et al (2011),  Nicotine & Tobacco Research



“The study revealed that 3 months continuous yogic exercise resulted improvement in anaerobic capacity of individuals, as compared to aerobic capacity.”
– Saha et al (2010),  British Journal of Sports Medicine



"A 12-week Hatha yoga intervention has favorable effects on cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility in Chinese adults."
– Lau et al (2015), Hindawi


"Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of early morbidity and mortality in most developed countries. Secondary prevention aims to prevent repeat cardiac events and death in people with established CHD. Lifestyle modifications play an important role in secondary prevention. Yoga has been regarded as a kind of physical activity as well as stress management strategy. Growing evidence suggests the beneficial effects of yoga on various ailments."
– Lau et al (2012), The Cochrane Collaboration



“The results of the present study suggests that yogic breathing practices decreases the systolic components of the blood pressure whereas the acupuncture group is effective in reducing the diastolic component of the blood pressure.”
– Sriloy et al (2015), Acupuncture and Related Therapies



“Addition of yoga based relaxation to conventional post-CABG [coronary artery bypass grafting] cardiac rehabilitation helps in better management of risk factors in those with abnormal baseline values and may help in preventing recurrence.”
– Raghurama et al (2014), Indian Heart Journal



“The result of pre-post test with ANCOVA revealed that both the treatment stimuli (i.e., yoga and drug) were effective in controlling the variables of hypertension.”
– Murugesan et al (2000), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Naturopathy and yoga helps in inducing positive health, alleviating the symptoms of disease [bronchial asthma] by acting at physical and mental levels.”
– Sathyaprabha et al (2001), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Lipid profile of short and long term meditators was better than the profile of non meditators in spite of similar physical activity. This shows that Raja Yoga meditation provides significant improvements in respiratory functions, cardiovascular parameters and lipid profile.”
– Vyas et al (2002), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Our study shows that three months of pranayam training modulates ventricular performance by increasing parasympathetic activity and decreasing sympathetic activity.”
– Udupa et al (2003), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Mukh bhastrika [a yogic breathing technique] produced a significant (P < 0.01) decrease in VRT [visual reaction time] as well as ART [auditory reaction time]. . . This is of applied value in situations requiring faster reactivity such as sports, machine operation, race driving and specialized surgery.”
– Bhavanani et al (2003), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Our results indicate that yoga reduces the age related deterioration in cardiovascular functions.”
– Bharshankar et al (2003), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“As an aerobic exercise SN [Surya Namaskar, a group of Yogic exercise] seemed to be ideal as it involves both static stretching and slow dynamic component of exercise with optimal stress on the cardiorespiratory system.”
– Sinha et al (2004), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“It was concluded that pranayama & yoga breathing and stretching postures are used to increase respiratory stamina, relax the chest muscles, expand the lungs, raise energy levels, and calm the body.”
– Singh et al (2012), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“It is concluded that pranava pranayama, a simple and cost effective technique can be used in the management of hypertensive patients in addition to the regular medical management.”
– Bhavanani et al (2012), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“The study suggests that the long-term practice of Raja Yoga meditation improves basic cardio-respiratory functions due to shifting of the autonomic balance in favor of parasympathetic instead of sympathetic system.”
– Sukhsohale et al (2012), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“The study showed that 2:1 [yogic] breathing technique caused a comprehensive change in body physiology by altering various parameters that are governed by the autonomic nervous system. It is an effective modality for management of essential hypertension.”
– Adhana et al (2013), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Overall, cardiorespiratory stress is less in SN [Surya Namaskar] than BE [bicycle exercise] at similar work intensities.”
– Sinha et al (2013), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“In conclusion, Sudarshan Kriya positively modifies stress coping behavior and initiates appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone.”
– Kharya et al (2014), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“In conclusion, Sudarshan Kriya positively modifies stress coping behavior and initiates appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone.”
– Kharya et al (2014), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“Maximum Voluntary Ventilation significantly increased from admission till the date of discharge (P < 0.0035) and Peak Expiratory Flow Rate significantly increased from admission till the 36th month of follow-up (P < 0.0035), post Bonferroni correction. This validated the beneficial effect of combining naturopathy and yoga for the management of bronchial asthma.”
– Rao et al (2014), Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology



“[Yoga and pranayama] have no side effects but still offer the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease, thus improving long-term outcomes and reducing overall health care costs. While the effects of medication are temporary…the effects of consistent practice of yoga and pranayama are permanent, resetting the autonomic nervous system to one of parasympathetic dominance.“
– Chaddha et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“The present study has demonstrated that yoga practices could reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine and increase anti-inflammatory cytokine in industrial workers.”
– Rajbhoj et al (2015), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“This randomized control study on yoga-based visualization and relaxation in high-risk pregnancy has shown significantly better uteroplacental and fetoplacental blood flow velocity in the yoga group compared to the control group.”
– Rakhshani et al (2015), Advances in Preventive Medicine



“Practicing yoga seems to be the mode of exercise with better improvement in autonomic functions as suggested by resting HRV [heart rate variability]. …some of the HRV parameters showed statistically better improvement with yoga as compared to swimming.“
– Sawane et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“Despite low energy expenditure, yoga practices are better in some cardiorespiratory fitness parameters than other aerobic activities recommended by current guidelines for [cardiovascular disease] prevention. The yoga group has statistically significantly higher maximum performance per kilogram and maximum oxygen consumption per kilogram per minute [than those performing regular aerobic physical activities].“
– Sovová et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“Regular practice of yoga can protect the individual against inflammatory diseases by favourably altering pro-inflammatory cytokine levels.”
– Vijayaraghava et al (2015), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“Yoga regimen was found to improve lung functions and diffusion capacity in CAD [coronary artery disease] patients besides improving cardiovascular functions. In this study, an improvement in almost all the parameters was observed in CAD patients after following 3 months of yoga regimen.“
– Yadav et al (2015), International Journal of Yoga



“Our study provides initial evidence of differential cardiovascular effects of Asanas and subtle differences between right and left sided performance. Further, cardiovascular recovery is greater after the performance of the Asanas as compared to shavasan; thus, implying a better response when effort precedes relaxation."
– Bhavanani et al (2014), International Journal of Yoga



“Compared to non-exercise controls, yoga showed significant improvement for [cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome risk factors]. There is promising evidence of yoga on improving cardio-metabolic health.” 
– Chu et al (2014)European Journal of Preventative Cardiology



“This study suggests that practice of yoga for a short duration (3 months) of time can significantly improve respiratory muscle strength in pediatric population.”
– D'Souza et al (2014), International Journal of Yoga



“This study has demonstrated that a yoga intervention can lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension.”
Hagins et al (2014), The Journal of Clinical Hypertension



“There is a statistically significant increase in [vital capacity, tidal volume, expiratory reserve volume, breath holding time, endurance and peak expiratory flow rate] following yoga training. Yoga practice can be advocated to improve pulmonary functions in healthy individuals and hence to prevent respiratory diseases in future.”
– Karthik et al (2014), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“Bhramari pranayama and OM chanting are effective in improving pulmonary function in healthy individuals.“
– Mooventhan et al (2014), International Journal of Yoga



“These findings suggest that yoga is an effective means to reduce oxidative stress and to improve antioxidant defense in elderly hypertensive individuals.”
– Patil et al (2014), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“A group therapeutic-yoga intervention may improve multiple aspects of physical functioning after stroke. Such an intervention may be complementary to traditional rehabilitation.”
– Posadzki et al (2014), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“[This study of essential arterial hypertension patients shows] a statistically significant reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, negative effect, symptoms of anxiety and degree of stress. . . These positive and promising results confirm the effectiveness of these techniques in the treatment of essential arterial hypertension and suggest possible further investigations.”
Roche et al (2014), Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice



“A yoga-based lifestyle intervention appears to be a promising option in reducing the risk for CVD [cardiovascular diseases] as well as management of patients with CVD. The efficacy of such lifestyle intervention programmes…is achieved via reduction in weight, obesity-related inflammation and stress, thereby culminating into risk reduction towards several chronic diseases, including CVD.”
– Sarvottam et al (2014), The Indian Journal of Medical Research



“A school-based Hatha yoga program demonstrated potential to decrease resting [blood pressure], particularly among prehypertensive youth.”
– Sieverdes et al (2014), The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 



“Mind–body practices have encouraging results for patients with cardiac disease.”
Younge et al (2014), European Journal for Preventative Cardiology



“The study showed a significant fall of mean blood pressure after 3 months of yoganidra. Results of this study suggest that yoganidra can be used as adjunctive treatment…on mild and moderate essential [hypertension].”
– Deepa T et al (2013), Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research



“Overall, yoga was associated with a modest but significant reduction in blood pressure…in this population [of individuals with prehypertension or hypertension].”
– Hagins et al (2013), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“Based on current studies, yoga is beneficial both as a treatment…and as a preventative measure against cardiovascular disease.“
– Lakkireddy et al (2013), Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy



“…We conclude that practice of yoga can regress early atherosclerosis in [metabolic syndrome, a strong risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease and type II Diabetes,] and has also beneficial effects on several metabolic parameters.“
– Manchanda SC et al (2013), Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy



“The yoga exercises performed in the proposed sequence constitute complementary non-pharmacological control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The yoga group showed a significant reduction of systolic blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate.“
– Mizuno et al (2013), Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies



“The [Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction] program is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, perceived stress, [blood pressure] and [body mass index] in patients with [coronary heart disease].“
– Parswani et al (2013), International Journal of Yoga



“Our study demonstrated psychosocial benefits from a program of adapted yoga (vs usual care) for [implantable cardioverter defibrillator] (ICD) recipients. Total shock anxiety, [a symptom experienced by almost half of ICD patients, and]…consequential anxiety decreased for the yoga group. Compared to the control, the yoga group had greater overall self-compassion…and mindfulness.”
Toise et al (2013), Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology



“It is concluded that [chandra nadi pranayama] is effective in reducing [heart rate] and [systolic pressure] in hypertensive patients on regular standard medical management.“
– Bhavanani et al (2012), International Journal of Yoga



“[Yogic breathing exercises] are beneficial to COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients and can be used as an adjunct…with the conventional medical therapy. [Controlled breathing exercises] help open blocked airways caused by bronchitis or emphysema, which are linked to COPD, and improve the function of air circulation. …One of the most important aspects of yoga for asthma or COPD patients is that ‘they develop an increased capacity to relax and control their breathing.’“
– Soni et al (2012), International Journal of Yoga



“Our study indicates that [sudarshan kriya and pranayam] practice has the potential to overcome [exam stress] by improving lipid profile and hematological parameters, [both of which exam stress impact.]“
– Subramanian et al (2012), International Journal of Yoga



“The present study reports that [Surya namaskar] has positive physiological benefits as evidenced by improvement of pulmonary function, respiratory pressures, hand grip strength and endurance, and resting cardiovascular parameters.“
– Bhavanani et al (2011), International Journal of Yoga



“We conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of…[Iyengar Yoga] versus enhanced usual care on [blood pressure] in…adults with untreated hypertension or Stage 1 hypertension. Twelve weeks of IY [Iyengar yoga] produces clinically meaningful improvements in [systolic BP] and [diastolic BP].”
– Cohen et al (2011), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“Regular practice of Surya Namaskar may maintain or improve cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as promote weight management.“
– Mody (2011), Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies



“Reduction of [systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure], heart rate, body fat [percentage], total cholesterol, triglycerides and [low density lipoprotein] after regular yogic practices is beneficial for cardiac and hypertensive patients. Therefore yogic practices included in this study are helpful for the patients of coronary artery disease.”
– Pal et al (2011), Complementary Therapies in Medicine



“This pilot study suggests that a yoga-based, comprehensive wellness program is both feasible and efficacious in creating positive, short-term improvements in multiple domains of health and wellness for a population of employees. Statistically significant improvements were observed in weight, diastolic blood pressure, flexibility score, body fat percentage, and overall quality of life.“
– Thomley et al (2011), Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing



“Among traditional lifestyle modifications, yoga is a low-cost, simple to administer, nonpharmacological, popular behavioural intervention that can lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive HIV-infected adults with mild–moderate [cardiovascular disease] risk factors.”
Cade et al (2010), HIV Medicine



“Yoga practice was safe, with participants experiencing improved physical function and symptom stability [in patients with heart failure].“
– Howie-Esquivel et al (2010), Journal of Cardiac Failure



“We conclude that the long-term practice of yoga leads to lower metabolic rates and probably greater metabolic efficiency mainly due to reduced sympathetic activity and /or stabilized nervous system.“
– Chaya et al (2008), International Journal of Yoga



“Yoga improved exercise tolerance and positively affected levels of inflammatory markers in patients with [heart failure], and there was also a trend toward improvements in [quality of life].“
– Pullen et al (2008), Journal of Cardiac Failure



“In conclusion, relaxation by yoga training is associated with a significant increase of cardiac vagal modulation. Since this method is easy to apply with no side effects, it could be a suitable intervention in cardiac rehabilitation programs.”
– Khattab et al (2007), Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine



“Yoga and meditation appear to improve endothelial function in subjects with [coronary artery disease].”
Sivasankaran et al (2007), Clinical Cardiology



“Heart rate increased during the yoga postures and decreased in guided relaxation and after CM [cyclic meditation]. Hence, it appeared that predominantly sympathetic activation occurred in the yoga posture phases of CM while parasympathetic dominance increased after CM.”
– Sarang et al (2006), International Journal of Stress Management


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