Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Happy Heart, The Healthy Heart

Maureen Mason, MSPT, WCS, CCI, PYT-C

February is heart health month, and I am writing this in honor of a dear friend who confided in me she discovered during a recent medical procedure that she has significant heart disease. She is now intent on, and practicing, heart health in mind, body and spirit. She may use medication and /or surgery, as needed, yet in her post op lifestyle she is on a health quest incorporating mindfulness, walking, and healthy eating daily. I want her to live long and prosper!

Sages throughout the ages offer strategies and methods for peace, enlightenment, and wisdom. Certain habits and practices help mind, body and spirit to thrive. Here are a few habits that can improve your health,and can specifically help your heart health.

Exercise regularly, 12 x per month or more.
Regular exercise may include the practice of yoga, either solo, or in a class that is safe and sound. A study published in research gate identified significant reductions in anxiety, depression, worry, and reduced salivary cortisol in women practicing Iyengar yoga for 3 months, compared to controls. Walking is also a wonderful form of exercise.Recent research is noting health benefits of yoga as similar to that of traditional cardiac training.

Maintain a good weight, BMI range 18.5 to 29.9
Calories count: Eat a diverse, Mediterranean diet. Eating a lot of vegetables, nuts, and good fats and proteins helps fill you up and nourish your body.

Practice meditation*: clear your mind
"Being", sitting or reclining, breathing, and cycling a mantra or prayer can calm and control the wandering mind. Use free guides, friends, or links in prior yoga posts here to develop a meditation practice. Research is showing improved mental and physical health in individuals who meditate regularly.

Alcohol: moderation
Women may benefit from one drink per day, men, 2 drinks. But alcohol use can cause impaired health by adding extra calories, upsetting blood sugar, irritating the throat, stomach lining, pancreas and liver, so if used, only in moderation.

Engage the positive with Spirituality, or Religious affiliation.
Reading uplifting literature or prose regularly, or having spiritual or religious devotions can enhance your life, and your health. Individuals that have spiritual or religious devotions as part of their life rate higher on compassion, forgiveness, and on heart health standards.

Comprehensive Therapy Services has resources to help improve your health, including free handouts on Mind Body health strategies, Meditation*, “Medicine Mind” mindfulness training, Doterra essential oils, pilates and other fitness classes, acupuncture and massage. Ask your therapist for resources to improve your heart health and self care. One on one private training is available for health and wellness in professional yoga therapy.

Ginger Garner is a a preventative health care leader with free mediation* podcasts and a gentle yoga DVD you can practice.She founded the Institute for Professional Yoga Therapy. The PYT-C after my name denotes my Professional Yoga Therapy affiliation and training, which has helped me practice self care and expand my integrative health care offerings to clients. She created PYT to offer medically based, safe, sound yoga programs. Here is her link:

Research based articles on heart health:
Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program.
"Women suffering from mental distress participating in a 3-month Iyengar yoga class show significant improvements on measures of stress and psychological outcomes. Further investigation of yoga with respect to prevention and treatment of stress-related disease and of underlying mechanism is warranted."

Measurement of the effect of Isha Yoga on cardiac autonomic nervous system using short-term heart rate variability
During both supine rest and deep breathing, Isha Yoga practitioners showed well-balanced activity of vagal efferents, overall increased HRV, and sympathovagal balance, compared to non-Yoga practitioners. Hence, it may be postulated that Isha Yoga practitioners: have better exercise tolerance, their cardiac response to adverse conditions like day-to-day stress is improved following Isha Yoga practices the probability of them experiencing hypertension and other premature cardiac events like ischemia or infarction is decreased after the practice of Isha Yoga. However more studies should be conducted to explore these areas further.

Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of and Mortality From Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Women
Cardiovascular disease mortality was significantly lower among women in the top quintile of the Alternate Mediterranean Diet Score (RR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.76; P for trend less than 0.0001).

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