All healing traditions recognize the crucial role of the heart in sustaining life and energizing the body. We cannot survive long without a properly functioning heart. Cardiovascular health is a key area contributing to overall vitality in many ways.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the US and many other developed countries. Fortunately, there are many powerful lifestyle and prevention-focused approaches that can help protect and rejuvenate our heart health.
From a Western medical perspective, lifestyle choices including avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week, eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and produce, limiting alcohol consumption, getting adequate rest and relaxation and managing stress all contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.
This confluence of influences makes the heart impacted by and capable of affecting many other aspects of the body and health. The heart is an important seat of subtle energies, immunity and vitality. It is also deeply connected with the energetic body and the chakras.
Subtle energetic pathways known as The Ten Great Vessels carry energy or prana throughout the body and link the heart to the chakras. The heart chakra or anahata chakra is the intersection between the outer and inner world and a path towards higher consciousness. The energy of the heart chakra allows us to cultivate compassion, love, kindness and empathy but also tends to collect loneliness, grief and sadness. Given these intricate relationships, all these emotions can influence heart health.
Since the heart is at the center of this complex web of pathways and influences, approaching all of these systems, energies, emotions and channels can powerfully impact heart health. Traditional Ayurvedic teachings emphasize the value of a calm mind, non-violent behavior, happiness, control of the senses and conservation of energy as important means for positively impacting the heart as well as the mind and nervous system.
Practicing pranayama to work with the breath is a powerful strategy for balancing the energetic body, restoring vitality and supporting the cardiovascular system. Breathing fully and deeply into the belly, practicing Ujjayi pranayama and nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing can all help to clear stress, preserve energy and support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Yoga, meditation and prayer are other meaningful ways to balance prana and positively influence the heart. Many of the wellness prescriptions I provide in The Whole Cure: 52 Essential Prescriptions to Overcome Overwhelm, Reclaim Balance and Reconnect with a Life You Love! can benefit the heart by empowering you to avoid excess stress and cope with life through powerful, balanced strategies.
Our bodies and hearts thrive with balance, a healthy lifestyle, rest and time for self-care. Take time for you, celebrate your joy, breathe deeply and trust your heart!
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