Heart disease was thought to be irreversible until a revolutionary heart healthy yoga study proved otherwise!
Dr. Dean Ornish revolutionized the way doctors look at heart disease. There are four components that make up a healthy heart. Many seem obvious to us now, but they weren’t obvious at the time.
4 Heart Healthy Components
1. What you eat
If you want to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke, then eating more vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins is a good idea. Yes, it can be hard to change your eating habits but luckily there are programs out there (like the WildFit program) to help you gain freedom from food.
2. Level of activity
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 70 minutes of vigorous activity per week. The heart is a muscle which needs to be strengthened like any other muscle.
3. How you respond to stress
Even though your body’s response to stress is supposed to protect you, it becomes toxic at some point. The physiological experience of stress in the body is supposed to be temporary. Stress shuts down our body systems so that we can prepare to fight or flight. But when stress becomes chronic, it also becomes toxic.
4. How much love and support you have
Another protective feature for your heart is whether or not you have a loving and supportive community. Loving relationships can increase our longevity while loneliness can be more harmful than obesity or smoking.
Dr. Dean Ornish is the author of 6 New York Times Bestselling books and has been an adviser to two American Presidents. His work is changing the medical paradigm. What many people don’t know is that his inspiration comes from his teacher, Swami Satchidananda.
All aspects of his heart health program have roots in a yogic lifestyle.
Heart healthy yoga practices include yoga postures, yoga breathing, meditation, yoga satsang (or community), and yoga diet.
Here are some of the ways that yoga helps you have a healthy heart:
- Stress reduction
- Lowers heart rate
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps you feel connected to others
- Cardiovascular health
When you add aspects of yoga lifestyle, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, the benefits rise. Just make sure you don’t make the mistake some beginner vegetarians and vegans do – some will replace meat and dairy with carbs, sugar, and other fats. That won’t help! Be reasonable and have a well thought-out diet. It’s ok to be a “chegan” like President Bill Clinton – a vegan who cheats and eats meat or dairy sometimes.
Another aspect of heart healthy yoga is working with your heart chakra. You can learn more about chakras here. The energy of your heart chakra helps your heart and lungs. It also governs emotions such as love, compassion and courage. Working with the energy of these emotions will also help your physical heart.
The saying “He/she has a broken heart.” is not a random statement!
Have you done your yoga today? What is your favorite practice? Please share with us in the comment section below!