(ABC) -Having a healthy heart comes down to lifestyle, a healthy diet and exercise, but you might want to consider adding yoga to the mix.

The calming nature of yoga can do wonders for your heart.

"Studies have shown that it can actually help our heart rate variability which is the recovery rate and the resilience of our heart in the ups and downs of everyday life," said Judi Bar, a Cleveland Clinic certified yoga therapist.

Generally, a simple calming yoga practice can be good for the heart. According to Bar, yoga can lower heart rate and expand lung capacity. She says poses that open the chest will help relieve tension in muscles around the chest and the heart. She recommends sitting on the edge of a chair, reaching back with both arms and leaning forward while pressing your shoulders back gently; hold the pose for three to five breaths.

Bar says this opens the chest and helps relieve tension and stress. Yoga poses that require focus are calming, says Bar, and may positively affect blood pressure.

"We're not perhaps thinking of so many things at once. We're focusing on what we're doing. For instance, focusing on a balance pose. It helps to calm that nervous system, which generally will help that blood pressure, at least slightly," Bar said.

Bar says regular yoga practice reduces stress, strengthens and builds muscle tone, but it shouldn't replace a cardiovascular workout.

In other health news, April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton is having the 'Just say ahh' screenings on Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. until noon. For more information or to make an appointment, call 580-250-6565.

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