A Yoga way to heart health

Yorkshire Yoga promotes healthy hearts
Yorkshire Yoga promotes healthy hearts
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A pilot scheme for people suffering from heart problems or wanting to avoid them is being run by a Yorkshire yoga centre. Catherine Scott finds out what it’s all about.

YOGA has long been known for its relaxing and destressing properties. Now a pilot study in Yorkshire is set to test the benefits of the ancient practice on the heart.

In the new year Knaresborough-based charity Yorkshire Yoga is launching a new programme of exercise, weight monitoring and relaxation called Fit4Heart. The programme is being run free of charge as it is funded by the Big Lottery Fund – and anybody can take part.

Jenny Howsam, the coordinator of the programme, explains: “The sessions are part of a carefully-planned regime to promote cardiac health.

“The programme is suitable for people with existing heart conditions as well as those who simply want to prevent heart problems in future. Our qualified teachers are trained to ensure the exercise is tailored to your individual needs.”

The Fit4Heart programme grew out of Yorkshire Yoga’s Fit4Health exercise referral scheme which offered healthy lifestyle support for people with long term conditions.

Clare Cook has been a student in Yorkshire Yoga’s Gentle Years class for over-65s since September 2011. “I suffered a stroke which affected my coordination and balance and left me with residual weakness on my right side,” she said. “I also had atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart condition, and the drugs I was prescribed for that had unpleasant side effects. I decided with the support of my GP and the hospital to try losing weight and getting as fit as possible to help deal with my AF.

“Since joining classes at Yorkshire Yoga and making regular use of the specialist equipment, I have become fitter than I have been for years. I have received so many benefits and made so many friends that I have now become a regular volunteer ‘training buddy’ at the charity.”

Student Margaret Sladen decided to try Nordic walking as a way to help her heart. “As an unfit 69-year-old who had had a bypass operation some years before, I knew I needed to exercise but was concerned that Nordic walking might be too strenuous,” she said. “Happily I was wrong!

“I started Nordic walking with Yorkshire Yoga in 2011, with some trepidation. However the class was slow and gentle and included others like me.

“My walking gradually built up to 45 minutes and now I’m a volunteer walk leader, leading 90-minute walks for the club we established. I am certainly healthier and, between yoga and Nordic walking, I’ve made many new friends.”

Fit4Heart offers a choice of classes in cardiac rehabilitation, Nordic walking and/or dietary support combined with gentle core yoga, and will run from January 7 to April 3 at the charity’s centre at 9-10 Halfpenny Close, Knaresborough.

Places on the free pilot programme are limited, so early booking is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

In order to obtain best benefit, Yorkshire Yoga is asking participants to 
commit to at least one class a week for the three-month pilot period.


Funded classes over 13 weeks

Fit4Heart sessions are part of a carefully-planned regime to promote cardiac health. Fit4Heart is funded by Awards for All and consists of a 13-week series of classes, held at Yorkshire Yoga and Therapy Centre in Knaresborough from January 7 to April 3. Although a formal medical referral is not required for this pilot, people with existing heart conditions should check with their GP or cardiologist before embarking upon any new activity. For further information on the Fit4Heart programme contact Yorkshire Yoga and Therapy Centre, 9-10 Halfpenny Close, Knaresborough telephone 01423 864343.