Yoga helps to control heart rate variability (HRV), an indicator of the heart's response to changes in the autonomic nervous system. Indian researchers examined the electrocardiograms of 42 healthy Yogis and 42 people who did not do Yoga. Participants ranged between 18 and 48 years old. Findings showed that Yoga practitioners not only had greater autonomic control over heart rate; they also had healthier hearts.
Reducing the heart rate through the practice of hatha yoga is beneficial for those with hypertension, those who have suffered a stroke, or have heart disease. Hatha yoga consists of controlled postures that gently move from one to another. The breathing is slow and methodical, and the body stretches with each movement. This alone is calming to the nervous system.