Yoga and Heart Health

Cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish was one of the early pioneers to incorporate yoga into his medical research. In the early 1970s, Ornish was a young medical student in Texas, specializing in cardiology. During medical school Ornish was introduced to yoga through his family. He understood the positive effects yoga had on his life, and he began doing research.

He approached a number of cardiologists about referring coronary heart patients to his research study called “The Effect of Yoga and a Vegetarian Diet on Coronary Heart Disease.” The overall response went something like this: “I’d like to support your research, but it sounds too weird. What would I tell my patients, that I’m referring them to a swami?”

The idea that heart disease is reversible and that heart patients might fold into a pretzel on a floor bordered on medical heresy. Eventually, Dr. Ornish changed the name of his study to “Effects of Stress Management Techniques and Dietary Changes on Coronary Heart Disease” and got his patients as well as a little funding.

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