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Yoga and Coronary Heart Disease in the Over 65s

It is well known that coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and disability in Australia with the prevalence of CHD increasing rapidly with age, affecting around 1 in 7 adults (14%) aged 75+. But CHD is mostly preventable.
Liz Williams

Liz Williams

Liz Williams is a highly experienced health educator and Yoga therapist and she has been working in the health sector for almost 40 years. In the past 17 years, she has trained Yoga teachers, nurses, allied health and medical staff as well as community groups.

It is well known that coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and disability in Australia with the prevalence of CHD increasing rapidly with age, affecting around 1 in 7 adults (14%) aged 75+*.

But coronary heart disease is mostly preventable. Risk factors that can be modified with lifestyle changes include smoking, insufficient physical activity, unhealthy diet, being overweight, not addressing stress, and not having treatment for hypertension. Interestingly, these risk factors usually begin earlier in life between the ages 35-45 years.

Conditions such as cardiac failure, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, renal disease, dementia, falls and accidents, can all result from cardiovascular disease. The person will often have an acute health event before the full extent of the disease is recognised.

YOGA AND CORONARY HEART DISEASE

Yoga is a well-researched intervention to aid with the symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease and other related complications of the cardiovascular system. It acts on both the intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of the cardiovascular system, to help maintain its function and help restore it to an improved level of pathophysiological response that is required for health.

For Yoga teachers and Yoga Therapists, developing knowledge of how primary ageing changes alter the functioning of the body, as well as, what yoga practices can be given and what considerations should be taken, can have a therapeutic and preventative effect on your older students.

YOGA CONSIDERATIONS FOR THOSE WITH CORONARY HEART DISEASE INCLUDE

  • Very wide range of abilities of the older yoga student with CVD.
  • Teach and encourage self-awareness of their own condition and abilities.
  • Watch the students constantly and encourage resting if necessary
  • Have rest periods frequently.
  • Have the students learn to use the breath and heart rate as a ‘speedometer’.
  • Change body positions slowly with intermediate steps.
  • Use dynamic – static – dynamic movements i.e include a pause between dynamic postures.
  • Take care with “legs up the wall” and child pose as resting poses.

Learn More about Yoga and Chronic Diseases with our 8 Part Online Workshop series with Liz Williams.

*(ABS 2019a)

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