According to yogic philosophy, the heart chakra is the seat of the soul and the center for compassion. A pure heart is held in high esteem. Through modern medicine we know that the heart is the center of the circulatory system, pumping blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to the cells, and carrying away metabolic waste.
Yoga for the heart studies
The physical heart is an essential organ and keeping it robust is a primary health goal. Recent research has found that yoga’s effect on cardiovascular health is similar to brisk walking and bicycling.
Studies specific to Iyengar Yoga have also shown it can help lower blood pressure and systemic stress levels to help prevent heart disease; as well as increase vagal tone, which balances the heart to beat within a safe range. And if you need another good reason to practice yoga for your physical heart health, this study found that poor trunk flexibility is associated with arterial stiffening.
The spiritual heart
The spiritual heart can be cultivated through mindful compassion, contentment and devotion. A good place to begin is by being compassionate with yourself during your yoga practice. Don’t force the poses aggressively and don’t expect perfection. Instead, honor your body with patience. Accept how it is today and know that with dedicated practice your poses will improve over time. Be devoted and practice with reverence. Yogis believe that the heart is the abode of the most central, sacred aspect of you – your soul. Cherish it.
The healthy heart yoga poses at the links below will stretch, massage and calm your physical heart, as well as the surrounding trunk muscles. Practice them with self-compassion and devotion to cultivate reverence in your spiritual heart. There are options for both beginning and continuing level students.
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© 2015 by Ann West. All rights reserved.