By Helaine Krasner, RD, CDN

Yoga has been practiced for its health and wellness benefits for more than 5,000 years.  The slow deep breathing associated with yoga practice helps to quiet the mind and promotes relaxation.  This may reduce overall stress level.  Chronic stress increases risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a major symptom and precursor to heart disease.  Other risk factors for heart disease include high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood sugar, obesity, and inactivity.

A review of yoga and cardiovascular disease published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found that yoga may help lower heart disease risk just as much as more conventional exercise, such as brisk walking.  According to the body of research that included people of various ages and health status, those that regularly practiced yoga lost an average of five pounds, decreased blood pressure by five points, and lowered harmful LDL cholesterol by 12 points compared with non-exercising control groups.

An important benefit of yoga that promotes these health benefits is that it incorporates physical activity, slow deep breathing, and meditation.  Performing a series of yoga poses exercises our muscles, which helps them to become more sensitive to insulin and helps lower blood sugar.  There is a strong correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so controlling blood sugar helps reduce risk of heart disease.

Yoga may be a good option for those just starting out with a goal of increasing exercise because it improves flexibility and balance.  It is a good option for those who need to avoid more rigorous forms of exercise, and can also be a helpful addition to an already active exercise regimen.  Consult your physician before starting any new exercise.  It is recommended that you consult with a certified yoga instructor to reduce risk of injury especially if you have physical limitations and restrictions.


  1. Corliss, J. (2015, April). More than a stretch: yoga’s benefits may extend to the heart. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from
  2. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (2015) American Heart Association website. Retrieved from

Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.