The Yoga-Heart Connection

Johns Hopkins University

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876 with the inauguration of our first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. He guided the opening of the university and other institutions, including the university press, the hospital, and the schools of nursing and medicine. The original academic building on the Homewood campus, Gilman Hall, is named in his honor.

Johns Hopkins enrolls more than 24,000 full- and part-time students throughout nine academic divisions. Our faculty and students study, teach, and learn across more than 260 programs in the arts and music, the humanities, the social and natural sciences, engineering, international studies, education, business, and the health professions.

For more than 140 years, our faculty and students have worked side by side in pursuit of discoveries that improve lives.

What kinds of discoveries? We made water purification possible, launched the field of genetic engineering, and authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls. We invented saccharine, CPR, and the supersonic ramjet engine.

Our efforts have resulted in child safety restraint laws; the creation of Dramamine, Mercurochrome, and rubber surgical gloves; and the development of a revolutionary surgical procedure to correct heart defects in infants.

The Homewood Career Center supports and serves all Krieger and Whiting undergraduates and masters students, regardless of post-graduate plans.

Best Global Universities Rankings by U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities Rankings by U.S. News & World Report presents all the top universities from the U.S. and 60 other countries around the world. They measure the rate of students going to their second year of studies, as well as the rate of students who graduate.

It also asks university representatives on the performance of universities, and evaluates university resources, teacher salaries, graduation rates, student academic achievements and satisfaction. After calculating and comparing these criteria, U.S. News ranks the top international universities accordingly.

World University Rankings by Times Higher Education World University Rankings is a vital resource that provides the definitive list of the world's best universities. They look at how often they're producing new ideas, what their reputation is around the world, and how much they're contributing to science and academic fields.

After calculating and comparing these criteria, THE ranks the universities accordingly. Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University ARWU World University rankings is the first world university ranking. It ranks the world's top 1000 colleges and universities objective indicator.

They look at the number of award-winning (Fields Medals and Nobel Prize) scientists who are located there, how much of their research is cited and referenced around the world, and how much they've contributed to different academic fields. After calculating and comparing these criteria, ARWU ranks the universities accordingly.

QS World University Rankings by TopUniversities QS World University Rankings is one of the top international rankings measuring the popularity and performance of universities all over the world. They measure university reputation the impressions of higher education experts, companies who hire graduates, and teaching quality.

QS also considers the ratio of international teachers and students present at universities, as well as the times research papers were mentioned by researchers. After calculating and comparing these criteria, QS ranks the universities accordingly.

Through coaching, mentoring, collaborations with campus partners, and community-building programs, the Center for Student Success focuses on every aspect of your undergraduate experience, providing an environment where you can maximize your potential and acquire the ability to thrive — at Johns Hopkins and beyond.

At Johns Hopkins University Housing, we aim to provide you with all the information for your housing needs. There are separate housing application processes designed for the different grade levels and/or student statuses. 

As America’s first research university, we take learning seriously, and we have the libraries and study spaces to help fuel discovery—from the stately Hutzler Reading Room to the open and modern Brody Learning Commons.

The Homewood Student Affairs Information Technology Services team is focused on providing you with a variety of computing and technology resources, expert-level technology support, and as well as access to deep discounts on computers, tablets, and accessories through our Technology Store.

The Student Health and Wellness Center is available to provide primary care services to help students manage their chronic medical needs. In addition, the SHWC offers general nutrition and wellness counseling.

We have four Baltimore campuses: Homewood, where our schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Education are located; East Baltimore, home to our schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health as well as the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital; the Peabody campus, site of the Peabody Institute, the nation’s oldest conservatory; and Harbor East, the waterfront home of the Carey Business School.

Health, wellness, fitness, and community — these are the guiding principles of the programs offered through the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center.

Our staff is here to engage you in experiences to improve your well-being, ranging from yoga classes to help build inner strength and reduce stress to exciting outdoor trips and courses that encourage and develop leadership, teamwork, environmental stewardship, character development, and transferable life skills.

At Johns Hopkins University, about 80% of students are involved in one or more of our 350+ student organizations. Here are just a few of the many benefits Johns Hopkins students have shared:

  • Enhances their college experience
  • Helps connect them to the Hopkins community
  • Enhance their ability to lead
  • Build a stronger sense of school spirit

The Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia.

Deadline: 30 June 2020

Apply for the Studyportals Scholarship and win up to €6000 to cover your tuition fees. Follow your dream of studying abroad with the help of our scholarship.

Apply for scholarship

To study at this university, you have to speak English. Practice your English language proficiency with live webinars and a free IELTS practice test.

Get access to free webinars and practice test

  • 178 Masters
  • 100 Online Courses
  • 47 Bachelors

Find More PhDs


3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Heart Health Fitness and Performance Physical Activity for Heart Health Maintaining Heart Health

Reviewed By:

Being physically active is a major step toward good heart health. It’s oneof your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keepingyour weight under control and warding off the artery damage from highcholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead toheart attack or stroke. 

It’s also true that different types of exercise are needed to provide complete fitness.

“Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the most important for heart health,” says Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D.

 “Although flexibility doesn’t contribute directly to heart health, it’s nevertheless important because it provides a good foundation for performing aerobic and strength exercises more effectively.”

Here’s how different types of exercise benefit you.

Aerobic Exercise

What it does: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, Stewart says.

In addition, it increases your overall aerobic fitness, as measured by a treadmill test, for example, and it helps your cardiac output (how well your heart pumps).

Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and, if you already live with diabetes, helps you control your blood glucose.

How much: Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.

Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Resistance Training (Strength Work)

What it does: Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition, Stewart says.

For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass.

Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

How much: At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Examples: Working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups.

Stretching, Flexibility and Balance

What they do: Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don’t directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. That flexibility is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training, says Stewart.

“If you have a good musculoskeletal foundation, that enables you to do the exercises that help your heart,” he says. As a bonus, flexibility and balance exercises help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise.

How much: Every day and before and after other exercise.

Examples: Your doctor can recommend basic stretches you can do at home, or you can find DVDs or videos to follow (though check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the intensity of the exercise). Tai chi and yoga also improve these skills, and classes are available in many communities.

Both aerobic exercise and resistance training burn calories, as well ashelp improve your baseline metabolic rate. The more muscle mass youdevelop, the more calories you burn, says Johns Hopkins exercisephysiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D. “Together with diet, that’s what leadsto weight loss,” he says.


Camp Heart Beat

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • For Ages: 7-18Duration: 5 daysDates: July 6 – 10, 2020Tuition: $200Need based scholarships are available and payment plans can be arranged.

Medical Team: Dr. Charles Berul, division chief of the Cardiology program at Children’s National, along with Drs. Russell Cross, Kristin Burns, Libby Sherwin, Jennifer Webb and Sarah Clauss, also of Children’s National, and Dr. Jane Crosson of Johns Hopkins Hospital

Virtual Camp Daily Schedule

10 am Morning Meet- Up

10:30 am First Activity

12:30 pm Bunk Brunch

2 pm Second Activity

3 pm Cabin/Chat Room; Support Groups


7 pm Evening Activity

Each day will begin and end with a Zoom session for all campers. Multiple smaller breakout sessions will be offered throughout the day where campers can choose activities that are of interest to them (i.e., crafts, yoga, scavenger hunt, games, etc.).

 They also will have the opportunity to participate in support groups led by our clinical psychologist and clinical social worker, as well as educational sessions led by medical experts in the conditions we serve. In addition, the campers will virtually meet together in “bunks” with their assigned counselors and bunkmates to create a feeling of unity and connection.

  In the evening, the campers will participate in camp-wide virtual group activities a “camp fire” sing-along and storytelling, talent show, and dance party. 

Camp Heartbeat offers children and teens with heart conditions, ages 7-18, six days and five nights of summer fun, education, and social connections in a safe and supervised environment.

Camp Heartbeat was developed by Brainy Camps in conjunction with the Department of Pediatric Cardiology of Children’s National Health System.

Parents can feel comfortable that their children are under the constant care of trained and experienced doctors, nurses and healthcare providers who specialize in the condition. Dr. Charles Berul, division chief of the Cardiology program at Children’s National, along with Drs.

Russell Cross, Kristin Burns, Libby Sherwin, Jennifer Webb and Sarah Clauss, also of Children’s National, and Dr. Jane Crosson of Johns Hopkins Hospital are the onsite camp physicians.

In addition to fun, the goal of Camp Heartbeat is to reduce the social isolation that is often associated with heart disorder, and increase the knowledge and understanding our campers have about their condition.

The camp provides opportunities for the kids to work with professional staff and become better self-advocates and self-managers of their condition.

They learn from peers and adult volunteers who live effectively with the condition, serving as role models and offering hope for a successful future to our campers.

Campers participate and choose from a myriad of activities. Support groups and educational programs promote knowledge, skill development and social connections.  Children and teens gain a better understanding of their condition, strengths and self-worth.

Please contact for more information.

Camp Heartbeat 2019 received support from the following: 
 DoMore24 Fundraiser, the Mischa Cho Fund, Giving Tuesday donation, Helping Children Grow Foundation, donations made to Brainy Camps through our Holiday Giving Campaign, Lockheed Martin's Employee PAC, MBK Foundation, 2018 Race for Every Child fundraiser, support from Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiology Department – Keeping the Beat for Hopkins, Garnett Scott Memorial fund, Asa McKinney Birthday Bash, Carol Toney Memorial Fund and private donations.

Photos from Camp Heartbeat 2019 


7 Heart Benefits of Exercise

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Heart Health Fitness and Performance Physical Activity for Heart Health Maintaining Heart Health

One of the very best gifts you can give your heart is physical activity.

Infact, pairing regular exercise with aMediterranean-style diet, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking is a great protection planagainst coronary artery disease and vascular disease, Johns Hopkinsresearch has found. 

Not convinced such simple steps could be so powerful? These four lifestyle factors reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over the eight-year period that more than 6,200 subjects were tracked.

“For certain heart conditions, exercise can be as powerful as some medications,” says Johns Hopkins expert Kerry Stewart, Ed.D.

  1. Exercise works beta-blocker medication to slow the heart rate andlower blood pressure (at rest and also when exercising). High bloodpressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.

  2. Especially when combined with a smart diet, being physically active is anessential component for losing weight and even more important for keepingit off, Stewart says—which in turn helps optimize heart health. Beingoverweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart diseaseand stroke.

  3. A combination of aerobic workouts (which, depending on your fitness level,can include walking, running, swimming, and other vigorous heart-pumpingexercise) and strength training (weight lifting, resistance training) isconsidered best for heart health. These exercises improve the muscles’ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood. That reduces the needfor the heart—a muscular organ itself—to work harder to pump more blood tothe muscles, whatever your age.

  4. As smokers become more fit, they often quit. And people who are fit in the first place are less ly to ever start smoking, which is one of the top risk factors for heart disease because it damages the structure and function of blood vessels.

  5. Johns Hopkins research has shown that when combined with strength training,regular aerobic exercise such as cycling, brisk walking, or swimming canreduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50% by allowing the musclesto better process glycogen, a fuel for energy, which when impaired, leadsto excessive blood sugars, and thus diabetes.

  6. Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercise—whetheraerobic ( running), resistance-oriented ( weight training) orflexibility-focused ( yoga)—can help you relax and ease stress.

  7. With regular exercise, chronic inflammation is reduced as the body adapts to the challenge of exercise on many bodilysystems. This is an important factor for reducing the adverse effects ofmany of the diseases just mentioned.

Try It

How can you fit more exercise into your day, or become more physicallyactive if you haven’t been before? Begin with small starts these, andbuild up from there.

  • Park your car at the far end of a parking lot, so you have farther to walk to a building's entrance.
  • Choose the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Spend part of your lunch break walking.
  • On bad-weather days, try walking indoors at a mall.
  • Wake up a bit earlier and exercise before you do anything else.
  • Use a wearable fitness tracker to count your steps. Try increasing your daily steps by 500 each week with the goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day, a level that can produce many health benefits.


Yoga in Rheumatic Diseases

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

1. US Department of Health and Human Services 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed on: 9-20-2013. Available at:

2. Hochberg MC, Altman RD, April KT, Benkhalti M, Guyatt G, McGowan J, Towheed T, Welch V, Wells G, Tugwell P. American College of Rheumatology 2012 recommendations for the use of nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in osteoarthritis of the hand, hip, and knee. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken.) 2012;64:465–474. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

3. American College of Rheumatology Subcommittee on Rheumatoid Arthritis Guidelines Guidelines for the management of rheumatoid arthritis: 2002 Update. Arthritis Rheum. 2002;46:328–346. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]


Carville SF, Arendt-Nielsen S, Bliddal H, Blotman F, Branco JC, Buskila D, Da Silva JA, Danneskiold-Samsoe B, Dincer F, Henriksson C, Henriksson KG, Kosek E, Longley K, McCarthy GM, Perrot S, Puszczewicz M, Sarzi-Puttini P, Silman A, Spath M, Choy EH. EULAR evidence-based recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2008;67:536–541. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

5. Fitzcharles MA, Ste-Marie PA, Goldenberg DL, Pereira JX, Abbey S, Choiniere M, Ko G, Moulin DE, Panopalis P, Proulx J, Shir Y. Canadian Pain Society and Canadian Rheumatology Association Recommendations for Rational Care of Persons with Fibromyalgia. A Summary Report. J.Rheumatol. 2013;40:1388–1393. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

6. McCall T. Yoga as Medicine. Bantam Dell; New York, NY: 2007. [Google Scholar]

7. Raub JA. Psychophysiologic effects of Hatha Yoga on musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary function: a literature review. J Altern.Complement Med. 2002;8:797–812. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

8. Bussing A, Ostermann T, Ludtke R, Michalsen A. Effects of yoga interventions on pain and pain-associated disability: a meta-analysis. J Pain. 2012;13:1–9. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

9. Yoga Journal . Yoga in America – 2012. Yoga Journal; San Francisco, CA: 2012. [Google Scholar]

10. Birdee GS, Legedza AT, Saper RB, Bertisch SM, Eisenberg DM, Phillips RS. Characteristics of yoga users: results of a national survey. J Gen.Intern Med. 2008;23:1653–1658. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

11. Ross A, Friedmann E, Bevans M, Thomas S. National survey of yoga practitioners: Mental and physical health benefits. Complement Ther.Med. 2013;21:313–323. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

12. Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Paul A, Michalsen A, Dobos G. Predictors of yoga use among internal medicine patients. BMC Complement Altern.Med. 2013;13:172. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

13. Yoga in America – 2008. Yoga Journal; San Francisco, CA: 2008. [Google Scholar]

14. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine National Institutes of Health Yoga for Health: What the Science Says. Accessed on: 8-14-2012. Available at:


The Healing Power of Mindfulness : Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

About 10 years ago, clinical psychologist Neda Gould was a postdoctoral fellow working on the Burn Unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview when she heard about a compelling new course.

It focused on teaching the basics of mindfulness as a tool for  reducing stress.

Intrigued, Gould enrolled, hoping the tools she learned could be used to help patients with burns who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The course was transformative for me. It allowed me to see the world in a whole different way,” says Gould today. “I’m a pretty driven, high-strung individual, but mindfulness opened my eyes to a whole new experience of living in the present moment. I now have the capability to be with my stress and work with it, as opposed to running from it.”

Gould completed the 40-hour stress reduction program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and subsequently earned certification to teach MBSR. Since then, she says, she’s “never looked back.”

Over the last few years, Gould has brought mindful-ness training to patients and clinicians across Johns Hopkins, including patients at the Amos Food, Body and Mind Center – and she’s seen countless lives improved through this practice. Most recently, with funding from the Center for Innovative Medicine, she’s expanded her classes to include hospital staff members at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

“Research has shown actual changes in brain structure and function following the practice of mindfulness/meditation. It’s pretty remarkable that we have the power within our minds to shift these bodily processes.”  

– Clinical psychologist Neda Gould

Gould points to solid research showing that mindfulness/meditation decreases levels of stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. The practice has also been found to improve immune function and reduce hypertension.

“Research has shown actual changes in brain structure and function following the practice of mindfulness/meditation,” says Gould.

“It’s pretty remarkable that we have the power within our minds to shift these bodily processes.”

The courses she offers vary in terms of focus, format and length. Most often, participants meet for the full MBSR course for 2.5 hours a week over eight weeks.

She begins in the classroom, talking about the science behind mindfulness.

In subsequent sessions, she covers meditation practices, leading participants through breathing exercises, gentle movement and yoga, and walking meditation. The capstone is a full-day retreat for silent meditation.

Participation has far exceeded expectation, she says, and underscored the reality that employees at Johns Hopkins are hungry for ways to decrease stress, reduce burnout and live happier lives. Whenever a new mindfulness course is announced, she says, “my inbox is flooded by people who want to enroll.”

Until recently, enrollment was limited to university employees.

In January, thanks to funding from David Hellmann and the Center for Innovative Medicine, she was able to open the course to non-university employees.

The winter course, offered for free with this funding, drew a wide range of hospital employees: physical and occupational therapists, nurses, research coordinators and support staff members.

Participation has far exceeded expectation…and underscored the reality that employees at Johns Hopkins are hungry for ways to decrease stress, reduce burnout and live happier lives.

“There is so much hierarchy in the hospital system,” Gould observes. “One of the things I love about these courses is that when we come into this room, this peaceful place that is nonjudgmental, there is such a sense of equality and connectedness. It’s a magical thing to witness.”

With additional funding, Gould would love to expand her mindfulness offerings to even more Johns Hopkins clinicians and staff members. “It’s a huge gift to those who participate,” she says. “This is where my heart is, and my hope is that this becomes my full-time focus at Johns Hopkins.”


Why Exercise Matters for Your Heart

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Heart Health Fitness and Performance Physical Activity for Heart Health Maintaining Heart Health

After aheart attack, astroke, a diagnosis ofheart failureor a heart procedure, people are often leery about exercising. They maywonder: Can I? Should I? Will I risk another heart event?

Yes, you can—and should—be physically active in all these cases, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Bill McEvoy, M.B., B.Ch. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says. “After a heart problem, once people are able to get up a flight of stairs without symptoms, they can resume mild to moderate exercise.”

Johns Hopkins research has found that in people with stable coronary artery disease, those who exercise have a lower risk of heart attack and have increased survival rates. For many people, a heart event serves as a wake-up call for changing the poor lifestyle habits that led to heart damage in the first place. Exercising more is an especially important first step.

Take advantage of cardiac rehab after a heart event

Phase one of cardiac rehabilitation takes place in the hospital. Increasingly, doctors and health insurers see the value of a second phase of cardiac rehab after discharge, often for four to eight weeks. “Patients who undergo phase 2 rehabilitation do better. They return to the hospital less, are more confident about their health and have a better quality of life,” McEvoy says.

Work with your cardio team

Your doctors and physical therapists will give you an exercise prescription, that is, recommendations for the type of exercise, how often you should do it and how long you can safely work out during each session, given your health status. Knowing your limits and how to recognize them is an important part of challenging yourself to do more.

Pay attention to your symptoms

It’s normal to sweat and breathe a little harder when you work out. But if you notice shortness of breath or a return of chest pressure, stop the activity and contact your doctor. “The worst thing is when some new symptom appears—not caused by the exercise itself—and the patient ignores it and keeps exercising,” he says. “But as long as you’re feeling comfortable, you can exercise.”

Keep up your fitness

“People who have had a heart event are at the highest risk of a future event,” McEvoy says. It’s common for a heart attack or other event to serve as a wake-up call to change unhealthy habits, he says. “But it’s also true that over time, you can grow complacent and return to the old habits that got you in trouble in the first place,” he adds.

That’s why it can be helpful to enlist the support of friends and family, or even hire a lifestyle coach or trainer, to keep you engaged in what should be a lifelong commitment to new, heart-healthy ways.

Especially after a heart attack or stroke, a patient may be wary about aparticular kind of physical exertion: sexual activity. “Cardiac rehab canhelp reassure you about having sex,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist BillMcEvoy, M.B., B.Ch.

“If you’ve completed a course of rehab, you can usuallysafely resume sex. The litmus test is the same as for other physicalexertion: Once you can climb a flight of stairs without a problem, you’reusually good to go. As with other exercise, just be observant of yoursymptoms.

If you feel shortness of breath or chest pain or pressure, stopand contact your doctor.”


The Yoga-Heart Connection

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Heart Health Fitness and Performance Physical Activity for Heart Health Maintaining Heart Health

Exercise that revs up your heart rate isn’t the only kind of physicalactivity that can help prevent or manage heart disease. The calmingexercise of yoga is good for the heart, too.

“A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects ofcardiovascular health,” saysHugh Calkins, M.D., director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins. “There’sbeen a major shift in the last five years or so in the number ofcardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits arereal.”

Yoga is a mind-body activity that involves moving through a series of bodyposes and breathing exercises that can improve strength, flexibility,balance and relaxation. Dozens of different formats, or practices, such ashatha, anusara, ashtanga and many others, emphasize different focuses, suchas toning, strength training or meditation.

Yoga as a Stress Outlet

One of yoga’s clearest benefits to the heart is its ability to relax thebody and mind. Emotional stress can cause a cascade of physical effects,including the release of hormones cortisoland adrenaline, which narrow yourarteriesand increase blood pressure. The deep breathing and mental focus of yogacan offset this stress.

Worry and depression commonly follow a cardiac event, such as a heartattack, bypass surgery or diagnosis of heart disease. As part of an overalltreatment plan, yoga can help you manage this stress.

Yoga as Heart Booster

Beyond off-loading stress, practicing yoga may help lower blood pressure,blood cholesterol andblood glucoselevels, as well as heart rate, making it a useful lifestyle intervention.One study has shown that blood measurements and waist circumference—amarker for heart disease—improved in middle-aged adults with metabolicsyndrome who practiced yoga for three months.

Another study has shown that slow-paced yoga classes twice a week reducedthe frequency of atrial fibrillation episodes in patients with thatcondition.

In another report, patients with heart failure who went throughan eight-week yoga program showed improvement in exercise capacity andquality of life.

They also had lower blood levels of markers forinflammation, which contributes to heart disease.

Yoga as Smoking Cessation Aid

Some research indicates yoga might be a useful tool in helping smokersquit. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.

Yoga as Exercise

Yoga can also improve flexibility, muscle strength and balance. Becauseit’s not a form of aerobic exercise that raises the heart rate, however,you shouldn’t count the time you spend doing it as part of your recommendedweekly total for moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Arteries (are-te-rease): The blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich bloodaway from your heart for delivery to every part of your body. Arteries look thin tubes or hoses. The walls are made of a tough outer layer, amiddle layer of muscle and a smooth inner wall that helps blood floweasily. The muscle layer expands and contracts to help blood move. Blood glucose: Also referred to as blood sugar, the primary energy sourcefor the cells in your body. Blood glucose levels rise after meals and fallthe longer you’ve gone without eating. Your blood glucose level is ameasure of how much glucose you have in your bloodstream. A normal fastingblood glucose level is between 70 and 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliterof blood). Cortisol (kor-tuh-sol): A hormone produced by the adrenal glands on top ofthe kidneys and involved in the stress response. It rises in the mornings,inducing wakefulness and also rises during stress. Sleep deprivation,caffeine and alcohol can also raise cortisol levels. Chronically highlevels have been linked with low immunity, weight gain and other healthproblems.


Yoga improves arthritis symptoms, mood, study finds

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

A randomized trial of people with two common forms of arthritis has found that yoga can be safe and effective for people with arthritis.

Johns Hopkins researchers report that 8 weeks of yoga classes improved the physical and mental wellbeing of people with two common forms of arthritis, knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The study is believed to be the largest randomized trial so far to examine the effect of yoga on physical and psychological health and quality of life among people with arthritis.

Results were published in the April issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.

“There's a real surge of interest in yoga as a complementary therapy, with 1 in 10 people in the U.S. now practicing yoga to improve their health and fitness,” says Susan J. Bartlett, Ph.D.

, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and associate professor at McGill University “Yoga may be especially well suited to people with arthritis because it combines physical activity with potent stress management and relaxation techniques, and focuses on respecting limitations that can change from day to day.”

Arthritis, the leading cause of disability, affects 1 in 5 adults, most of whom are under 65 years of age. Without proper management, arthritis affects not only mobility, but also overall health and well-being, participation in valued activities, and quality of life.

There is no cure for arthritis, but one important way to manage arthritis is to remain active.

Yet up to 90% of people with arthritis are less active than public health guidelines suggest, perhaps due to arthritis symptoms such as pain and stiffness, but also because they are unsure of how best to remain active.

The study recruited 75 people with either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Participants were randomly assigned to either a wait list or eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes, plus a weekly practice session at home.

Participants' physical and mental wellbeing was assessed before and after the yoga session by researchers who did not know which group the participants had been assigned to.

Compared with the control group, those doing yoga reported a 20% improvement in pain, energy levels, mood and physical function, including their ability to complete physical tasks at work and home.

Walking speed also improved to a smaller extent, though there was little difference between the groups in tests of balance and upper body strength.

Improvements in those who completed yoga was still apparent nine months later.

Clifton O. Bingham III, M.D.

, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, says the idea for the study grew his experiences treating patients with arthritis. “It was watching what happened with my patients and the changes in their lives as a result of practicing yoga that got me interested in the first place.”

Safety was a priority in the study, the authors say. “For people with other conditions, yoga has been shown to improve pain, pain-related disability and mood,” says Bingham.

“But there were no well-controlled trial of yoga that could tell us if it was safe and effective for people with arthritis, and many health professionals have concerns about how yoga might affect vulnerable joints given the emphasis on changing positions and on being flexible. Our first step was to ensure that yoga was reasonable and safe option for people with arthritis. Our instructors were experienced yoga therapists with additional training to modify poses to accommodate individual abilities.” Participants were screened by their doctors prior to joining the study, and continued to take their regular arthritis medication during the study.

The researchers have developed a checklist to make it easier for doctors to safely recommend yoga to their patients, Bingham says.

People with arthritis who are considering yoga should “talk with their doctors about which specific joints are of concern, and about modifications to poses,” suggests Bingham.

“Find a teacher who asks the right questions about limitations and works closely with you as an individual. Start with gentle yoga classes. Practice acceptance of where you are and what your body can do on any given day.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


9 Benefits of Yoga

The Yoga-Heart Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Staying Active as You Age Aging Well Exercise and the Aging Person Age-Related Depression, Mood and Stress

If you’ve done your “downward dog” yoga pose today, you’re probably feeling more relaxed.

Regardless of your level of yoga expertise, if you’re practicing regularly, you can feel better from head to toe, says Harpreet Gujral, program director of Integrative Medicine at Johns Hopkins’ Sibley Memorial Hospital.


Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. And, if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing. 

“A yoga therapist can work with patients and put together individualized plans that work together with their medical and surgical therapies,” says Gural. “That way, yoga can support the healing process and help the person experience symptoms with more centeredness and less distress.”

1. Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility

Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.

Try it: Tree Pose

Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Try to focus on one spot in front of you, while you balance for one minute. 

2. Yoga helps with back pain relief

Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.

Try it: Cat-Cow Pose

Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine a cat stretching. 

3. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms

Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis, according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies.

4. Yoga benefits heart health

Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.

Try it: Downward Dog Pose

Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.

5. Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better

Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes. 

6. Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods

You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.

7. Yoga helps you manage stress. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.

Try It: Corpse Pose (Savasana) 
Lie down with your limbs gently stretched out, away from the body, with your palms facing up. Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply. You can hold this pose for 5 to 15 minutes.

8. Yoga connects you with a supportive community. 

Gujral points out that participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. “Even during one-on-one sessions,” she says, “loneliness is reduced as one is acknowledged as a unique individual, being listened to and participating in the creation of a personalized yoga plan.”

9. Yoga promotes better self-care

After years of teaching yoga, Gujral can attest to this claim: “Once we give people the tools they need, they’re in the driver’s seat, feeling empowered and inspired to care for themselves.”

Scientific Research on Yoga Benefits

Gujral notes that more institutions are learning that yoga is more than just breathing and poses, and that there’s science to prove it is helpful as part of a treatment plan.

The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are listening to — and incorporating — scientific validation of yoga’s value in health care. Johns Hopkins’ Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C., for example, has a dedicated yoga therapist who works one-on-one with patients being treated for a range of conditions. 

Gujral notes that yoga is one of her center’s most sought-after and most prescribed modes of integrative treatment.

“Numerous studies show yoga’s benefits in arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women’s health, chronic pain and other specialties,” she says. “Very promising research is happening in the U.S. and in other places.”

Try It

“If you’re new to yoga, it’s good to sign up for a class so you can learn good form,” Jeter says.

Call local yoga studios, gyms, or senior centers and ask if they offer classes taught by a teacher trained to work with older people or those with physical limitations. A gentle yoga class can be a good choice.

Chair (or seated) yoga is a great option if your mobility or balance is limited, according to Jeter. Move at your own pace—and remember that any yoga pose can be modified so it’s right for you. Just ask your teacher.