Yoga meditation could help lower risks of heart diseases among Bruneians, sharing the same health benefits as jogging or briskwalking, said a consultant cardiologist from Gleneagles JPMC Cardiac Centre.
Director of Invasive Cardiology Dr Patrick Ang said doing yoga helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and otehr cardiovascular risk factors in increments comparable to those seen with aerobic exercises.
In addition, he said, cardio workouts like yoga are easier to practise for older people and those with health challenges.
Speaking with The Brunei Times, Dr Ang said with heart disease as the second highest leading cause of death in the sultanate behind cancer, the possibilities of developing heart diseases can be reduced with a healthy diet and exercise.
"Yoga may have great affects for recovering cardiac patients," he said.
According to records from the Ministry of Health (MoH), over 16,000 heart related procedures have been performed by GJPMC to date.
Dr Ang said while cardiac related diseases are commonly seen in older people, more young people are suffering from heart problems.
"We have patients in their twenties with cardiac complications now," he said, noting the rise in young Bruneians with coronary artery diseases.
"It's definitely alarming," he added.
The consultant cardiologist and physician adviced the public to lead a healthier life style by eating healthily and exercising more.
"The similarity of yoga and exercise's effect on cardiovascular risk factors suggest that there could be some possible physiological benefits occurring with yoga practice, and some stress-reducing relaxation effect as well," said Dr Ang, noting that patients recovering from heart surgeries are encouraged to exercise regularly.
The centre runs a weekly therapeutic aftercare programme for its cardiac patients.
"We encourage our patients to keep up and lead their lives as they did prior to their surgery," he added.
Meanwhile, Katherina Tan, a yoga instructor of Om Place Studio, said that yoga has become popular amongst Bruneians as a form of physical exercise to promote bodily or mental control and well-being, which can be beneficial for cardiac patients.
"We think yoga is beneficial to the heart because it combines exercise and relaxation," Tan said, adding that the mind-body relaxation element in yoga could make the activity a better method at reducing stress and anxiety compared to other fitness activities.
"I think it comes down to two things. Physical movement in general is positive, and that yoga practices reduce stress. We know that stress itself magnifies all the risk factors for heart disease.
"When you're chronically stressed, your blood pressure goes up. Your cholesterol goes up. If we simply breathe, stretch, and relax-that is, do yoga-we decrease our risk for heart disease," added the yoga instructor.
Tan also revealed that yoga helps improve sleep.
She said yoga, which originated in India, has become a popular mind-body therapy in the west, and recently in Asia.
"Yoga's breath control and body postures are believed to help nourish self-awareness, control stress and develop physical strength and balance which is suitable for everyone of all ages," she added.