A normal functioning heart is a stress-free heart, really. Even though this is often difficult to achieve in our run run run society, there are many methods that help overcome the continual stress we often experience. Yoga has shown to be perhaps the most effective strategy to cope with the anxiety in our minds and bodies, and in particular in our hearts.
Yoga can work miracles, specifically for blood circulation. In standing positions, the outside section of the cardiovascular system is expanded and relaxed so that a healthy blood flow goes through the outer areas. Upside down positions permit the lymphatic system, connected with the legs and muscles, guide the bloodstream further up. In horizontal postures the upper body is relaxed, re-energized, and well-ventilated, thereby helping to lower blood pressure levels. Last but not least, folding postures, whenever carried out mindfully and without strain, can easily enhance circulation inside the myocardium so that the cardiac muscle tones up.
Yoga exercises are often cardiovascular in nature depending on the speed that a person undertakes the given positions. An excellent example is the salutation of the sun. If this combination of positions is done properly, one’s heart begins pumping so that blood circulation is enhanced. Letting your breath take you through these positions is the best rhythm for calming the mind and significantly lowering anxiety in the heart.
The Sun Salutation: Begin in the Mountain Pose using the hands pressed against each other and glued to the heart. Take a deep breath and raise the hands above your head while bending slightly backwards. Exhale deeply while bringing down the hands. Then fold the upper body to a horizontal but forward bend.
Breathe in while moving the right leg into a Lunge. Breathe out and place the left leg straight to Plank Placement. Keep this position and breathe in. Breathe out and lower the body down to the floor. During inhalation, arch the upper body and straighten up the hands to an Upward Dog. Breathe out back to Downward Dog by bending the toes underneath and raising the hips up.
With an inhalation, move the left foot frontward to a Lunge. Breathe out and move the right leg toward Standing Forward Bend. Raise the upper body while breathing in and reach the arms above the head so that you are positioned with a small back bend.
Finally, bring down the hands during exhalation and go back to the first position, the Mountain Pose, with the palms fixed on the heart. Repeat the routine with the other side to achieve the full round. If you complete five rounds of this, then you are doing an ideal ritual early in the morning.
Reduce Your stress threshold And lower High blood pressure
Research has demonstrated that a regular yoga session lowers one’s heart rate, stimulates good blood flow, and reduces blood pressure levels. Dr. Satish Sivasankaran, MD, conducted research that found links between yoga exercise and heart wellness in the Yale School of Medicine in 2003. It was documented that volunteers who took a yoga course over six weeks improved their circulation (the pattern in which vessels contract and relax to stimulate blood circulation) by 17 percent. Furthermore, the participants that had cardiovascular disease underwent a 70 percent improvement.
Some Asanas result in a refreshing influence on the human body that help quell metabolism and lower blood pressure. Postures that require lengthy periods of breathing rhythms will actually bring down the body’s temperature. Test the next postures to reduce high levels of blood pressure.
The Legs-Up-the-Wall Position: Go close to a wall and curl up to a ball. Then then roll on your backside and stretch your legs on the wall. Keep the legs quite firm, so that they are kept vertically in place. Release the feet and the belly’s weight onto your upper body, towards the rear of the hips. Ease your eyes and move them down until you see your heart. If you feel a strain, shift somewhat away from the wall. Inhale softly and deeply from five to ten minutes.
A few Asanas are especially useful in alleviating tension. Move into Bridge and Plough positions whenever you experience an attack of anxiety developing. The Bridge relaxes the mind while at the same time opening the chest area and refreshing fatigued thighs and legs. The Plough facilitates in balancing the endocrine system while calming down the central nervous system. It is perfect for reducing frustration and curing depression.
The Bridge Pose: Rest lying on your back with the feet planted near the buttocks and palms facing down. Inhale, on the exhale push the feet into the mat to raise the butt bone. Clasp the hands tightly below and move the shoulder blades nearer so that the body weight rests on the triceps and and feet. Raise up your hips. Wait for several breaths then gently roll the vertebrae down towards the ground, one vertebra each time.
The Plough Pose: Lay on your back again with the hands next to the sides, legs stretched out directly to the front, feet glued and knees stiffened. On an exhale, fold the knees and lift the thighs on to the torso. Move the shoulder blades away from the head, widening the upper body. On another breath out, swing the bottom and legs upward, supporting the lower back with the palms, and expand the legs above the head, putting the toes behind, on the floor. Keep the thighs active by tensing the knees to make room between face and legs. Inhale and exhale slowly and hold for as much time as feels pleasant. To unwind, roll down one vertebra each time. Relax laying flat on your back for a few deep breaths.
An important element to reducing stress and maintaining a strong heart is using a correct inhale and exhale rhythm. Yoga breathing or Pranayama has a mysterious ability to relieve and energize a fatigued system, a restless spirit, or a crazy mind. For the next workout, make an effort to deliver your breathing evenly throughout your lungs.
The Seated Meditation: Sit down gently with the eyes shut. Tune into your breathing, being conscious of the regular circulation within the nostrils. When thoughts wander, just return consciousness back to the breathing. Start off with five minutes each day, and progressively increase for as long as possible. The breath is the anchor of a still mind. By steadily teaching the mind to be still and focused on an object or idea, such as a wave’s rise and fall, tension is released from the superficial mind, enabling physical and psychological relaxation.
The Alternative nostril breath: Nadi Shodana is known to balance the two major energy flows (nadis) of the energy body (pranayama kosha), which tend to be somewhat like the extroverted and introverted aspects of our character. It furthermore balances the left and right mental hemispheres, enhancing the lucidity of thought. Sit down in a relaxed position. Put your right hand in front of your face while the index and middle fingers are curled inwardly. Put the thumb next to the right nostril and your ring finger beside your left nostril. Close the right nostril with thumb and slowly but deeply inhale through the left. Then pause. Release your right nostril and repeat the same with the opposite side of your body. Once finished, exhale slowly but fully. This was a full round of Nadi Shodana. Begin with five to ten rounds, and increase the number as your ease and comfort levels increase.
Regular yoga practice strengthens, relaxes and tones the heart in incredible ways. If you make Asanas a part of your daily routine, your body will love you for it.
Nefeli Savidou is a certified Yoga Instructor and a part-time model. She has been a vegan for approximately 6 years and often writes articles about animal rights issues. She grew up in Canada and now lives in Athens, Greece.
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