Start your heart with morning yoga

Friday, February 1, 2019

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Yoga’s many benefits include improving heart health. During February, which is American Heart Month, that’s a good thing to remember.


Practicing yoga can help the heart in several ways, among them lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate.


Dr. William Witmer, an interventional cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Cardiology, likes to practice yoga in the morning.


“When I do yoga first thing in the morning, it sets me up for a great day,” Witmer says. “The breathing exercises help clear my mind. That helps me focus, and stay focused, all day long. That, in turn, helps the people I see as the day goes along.”


Regan Kust, a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer with Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine, sees these additional advantages to practicing yoga at any time of day:


  • Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath
  • Increased muscle strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved sleep

Researchers from Harvard University and the Netherlands found that practicing yoga may help lower the risk of heart disease as much as conventional exercise, such as brisk walking. Participants in the study – young and old, healthy and those with health conditions – lost an average of five pounds, lowered their blood pressure by five points and lowered their harmful LDL cholesterol levels by 12 points.


For people with heart disease, practicing yoga can help improve their mood and quality of life.


One caveat, though: The National Institutes of Health recommends that people with high blood pressure and pregnant women should modify or avoid some yoga poses. Talk with your healthcare provider and a qualified yoga instructor to learn more.


Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine offers yoga classes daily in the Mind Body Studio at the Aurora BayCare Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center in Green Bay. One-on-one yoga instruction also is available.




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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.