The American Heart Association (AHA) adds meditation to the list of strategies to reduce cardiovascular (CVD) risk

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By Lorrie Jacobsohn

According to Dr Glenn N Levine (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX), chair of the writing group of the AHA scientific statement, told theheart.org/Medscape Cardiology, “meditation, which is becoming increasingly popular and recognized for its benefits, may be an inexpensive and widely available adjunct to standard therapies for reduction of cardiovascular risk.”[1] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that CVD is a serious health issue because it remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, costs more than $200 billion annually, and is expected to increase 2‐ to 3‐fold over the next several decades.[2]

The AHA reviewed multiple studies that show meditation may have long-standing beneficial effects on the brain, which provide some “biological plausibility” for beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk by lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, and improving mood, quality of sleep and overall well-being. Other mind-body practices such as Tai Chi and yoga were excluded from this review as the evidence of the benefits of physical activity and exercise for cardiovascular disease are well-known. For the purposes of the review, meditation was categorized as primarily focused attention, mindfulness, loving kindness and compassion, or mantra repetition.

Yoga nidra followed by meditation are both concentration practices that occur at the conclusion of each TriYoga class and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. TYB also has one hour yoga nidra classes twice a month. In yoga nidra a calmer state of mind emerges, the body relaxes and awareness of the inner world is heightened providing a release of tension, a letting go of negative thoughts and feelings and a sense of inner calm. In TriYoga, the many variations of concentration kriya focus on breath, sound (mantra) and light to increase the flow of energy, expand consciousness, and dissolve into stillness or meditation.

This powerful, first ever statement by the AHA supports a regular meditation practice and lifestyle change for prevention and alleviation of symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Simple Daily Practice for Home, Office or School

Sit in a comfortable position, lengthen though the spine, hands relaxed in the lap with thumb and index finger touching, hands facing up or down. Eyes can be in a soft gaze or closed and focused upward and inward at the space between the eyebrows. Bring awareness to the breath, just noticing the rate and rhythm. Slow your breath down and deepen your breath. On the inhale fill the belly, chest, rib cage expands out to the sides and sternum lifts. On the exhale feel the chest, rib cage and belly subside. Try to make your inhale the same length as the exhale. You can add a mantra; you can say, “I breathe in” on the inhale and “I breathe out” on the exhale or you can inhale to the mental sound of “om,” universal energy and exhale “svaha,” (pronounced swaha) letting go. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the breath. With each inhale imagine you are filling up with energy and with each exhale you are letting go of all you do not need. You can feel the benefits with just a minimum of 5 minutes.

 

[1] https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.117.002218 Journal of the American Heart Association. 2017;6:e002218. Originally published September 28, 2017

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease facts. 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm. Accessed September 23, 2016.

 

 

 

 

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