It is widely accepted that both stress and physical inactivity are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) [1].

Strategies which promote a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and stress management, have been shown to be beneficial in terms of reducing CVD risk factors [1]. Yoga has been demonstrated to reduce stress [2] and the holding of poses that is involved provides surprising robust exercise [3]and so, theoretically, yoga could be effective as a primary prevention intervention for CVD.

This Cochrane review included all controlled trials of any type of yoga lasting at least three months, with a comparison group of either no or minimal intervention [4].

By definition, reducing CVD risk factors will reduce the risk of CVD.

In terms of risk factors, the review found that, overall, yoga led to clinically important improvements in blood pressure and blood lipids and therefore the take home message from this review could be that health care practitioners can confidently recommend yoga to patients in order to minimise some important CVD risk factors.

References:
[1]
World Health Organization. Media centre: cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/…/index.html[accessed 19.05.12].

[2]
C. Smith, H. Hancock, J. Blake-Mortimer, K. Eckert
A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety
Complement Ther Med, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2007, pp. 77–83
Article | PDF (234 K) | View Record in ScopusCiting articles (101)

[3]
S.R. Jayasinghe
Yoga in cardiac health (a review)
Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehab, Volume 11, Issue 5, 2004, pp. 369–375
View Record in Scopus | Full Text via CrossRefCiting articles (53)

[4]
L. Hartley, M. Dyakova, J. Holmes, A. Clarke, M. Lee, E. Ernst, et al.
Yoga for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease
Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Issue 5.