Yoga Gratitude - # 4 - A Strong Heart

I'm grateful to the practice of yoga for my...

 

STRONG HEART -  Whenever I go for examination at the Veteran’s clinic or hospital, the intake nurses commonly remark either a) how strong or pronounced my heart beat is, or b) how low my resting heart rate is. In addition to the occasional running and bicycle commuting I do, my healthy heart comes in large part from the many heart-healthy benefits of yoga.

For example, Headstand has become a standard component in my practice, and though my body is practically still in the pose, my inverted heart gets a remarkable workout as it pumps nearly 70% of the blood against gravity to the lower body extremities - as opposed to doing so with gravity when right side up. The effect is that my heart has to work harder to forcefully pump the blood where needed – making the pump stronger.  Inversions are just one subset of yoga’s many heart-healthy poses.

"Our breath rate has a correlation to our heart rate. The faster we breathe, the faster our heart will beat. Conversely, the slower we breathe – which can be accomplished with piercing yogic calm – the slower our heart rate can become."

Most of us are familiar with the American Heart Association recommendations of spending time each week elevating your heart rate  through moderate to strenuous exercise. Many may not know, however, that strategically lowering the heart rate - as may be common in a gentle yoga session or part of a routine cool-down portion of a vigorous class - is also beneficial. Our breath rate has a correlation to our heart rate. The faster we breathe, the faster our heart will beat. Conversely, the slower we breathe – which can be accomplished with piercing yogic calm – the slower our heart rate can become. In other words, lying awake on a floor, completely relaxed is also a great way to get some “cardio,” in that you are giving your heart a chance to slow down, recover, rest, and renew. From a vigorous vinyasa flow to a super-relaxing savasana – the research suggests that yoga has the capacity to make your heart, as it did mine, strong, happy, and patient.

 

 

Yoga Gratitude Continued...

#1 - Strong & Capable Knees

#2 - Dietary Changes

#3 - Flexibility and Strength

#5 - Emotional Stability

#6 - Heightened Creativity