Yoga and Meditation Study for Communities Impacted by Heart Disparities

August 15, 2022

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) is dedicated to world-class heart research and education for all patients across our community and around the world. Part of that commitment is recognizing and addressing disparities that exist and impact the access and equity in care and outcomes.

MHIF is proud to partner with Insight Health Equity Action Lab (iHEAL) and Chance York, a local mindfulness and yoga instructor and community thought leader. Together, we have designed an innovative yoga and meditation study for communities affected by disparities.

In a recently published opinion piece in the Pioneer Press, Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, MS, Medical Director for Health Equity and Health Promotion at MHIF, and Delaine Teabout Thomas, MPH, Women’s Health Equity Fellow at MHIF, worked with our partners in this effort to share the vision, passion and energy behind this new study:

“Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for adults, disproportionately and prematurely impacting Black and Brown communities. While there continues to be resources dedicated to documenting these disparities, approaches that lead to action based on what communities value most are needed.

That’s what we at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation set out to do.

Among other actions, we’re now launching a study of how meditation and yoga can help prevent heart disease and its progression.

We listened to Communities, and…

Loudly and clearly, we heard healthcare needs to move beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics and partner with communities most impacted by heart disparities.

We heard consistently that BIack and Brown communities want more than “just medications and procedures,” but demand greater empowerment and innovation. We heard a strong interest in “upstream” opportunities — actions that not only prevent heart disease, but also promote holistic healing in our bodies, minds and spirits. Members of the community expressed interest in having health and well-being resources that are free, easily accessible, reproducible and co-designed with representatives from the communities.

We acted with communities.

In response to what we heard, we partnered with Chance York, a local mindfulness and yoga instructor and community thought leader. Together, we have designed an innovative yoga and meditation study for BIPOC community members.

Why yoga and meditation? Stress, racism and other factors ramp up the body’s sympathetic nervous system, called upregulation. When in an upregulated state, a person often experiences high blood pressure, high blood sugar, weight gain, anxiety and depression. Studies show that yoga and meditation help remedy the sympathetic nervous system and may be effective for vulnerable communities who experience high stress environments.

This study that we’re embarking on focuses on using meditation and yoga to measure changes in three areas: quality of life (physical and mental impact), sense of belonging, and blood pressure.

We are in it for the long haul.

While we acknowledge systemic racism continues to permeate throughout healthcare, we are impatient at the slow changes and eager to offer opportunities that respond directly to the demands of the community. We continue to be committed to being a part of a solution where not just White Minnesotans have the best cardiovascular outcomes, but ALL Minnesotans can have equal opportunities to thrive. We are thankful for the innovation at CVS Aetna, which has helped fund the study we’re launching now, which is truly designed and led in partnership with the community.

Be a part of change.

If you are Black, Indigenous, or a person of color, please consider being part of this study. While we very much recognize the historical trauma that research has caused in the past in racial and ethnic minorities, we are committed to the future — one that is responsive, trusting and ultimately effective in moving the needle on addressing health disparities.

This study offers a wealth of techniques and tools for building self-knowledge that can serve in all aspects of life.

For more information and to be a part of this transformational work, please contact Joy Hayes at 651-206-0260

We aim to be your partners in prevention of heart disease.

Batala-Ra McFarlane is publisher of Insight News, Minnesota’s largest ethnic weekly publication, and co-founder of the Insight Health Equity Action Lab. Delaine Teabout Thomas, MPH, serves as the Women’s Health Equity Fellow at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, focusing on eliminating heart-related disparities among women of color. Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, MS. serves as the medical director for Health Equity and Health Promotion at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and is a preventive cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute. Chance York is a certified yoga and meditation teacher, a community thought leader, and an innovator at the George Wellbeing Center of the YMCA of the North.”

Read the article published on August 14 in the Pioneer Press.

  • Prevention
  • Research
  • Women's Heart Research