By Gopi Rao
Whether you just started practicing last week, or are in the middle of a Yoga teacher training intensive, the condition of your heart should never be taken for granted. If you stop to listen, your heart let’s you know how you feel during the day. Sometimes the heart is strong and sometimes it is severely jolted around by stress, anger, worry and anxiety.
Opening our hearts isn’t always easy, especially during challenging times. Fortunately, Yoga gives us the tools we need to release ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, and the latest scientific research shows that the heart’s rhythm has far greater impact on our autonomic nervous systems than we ever imagined.
According to the Institute of Heartmath, known for its work with coherence, our heart rhythms cause our bodies to react in negative and positive ways, depending on the state of our emotions. Yoga teachers have taught this wisdom for centuries; now we have scientific proof.
Studies Shows Link between Emotions and Heart
• At the University of London, Dr. Hans Eysenck and his associates found that people who experience ongoing, untreated emotional stress are up to six times more likely to suffer from heart problems and cancer than smokers or sufferers of high blood pressure or cholesterol. The good news, however, is that it is easier to successfully manage stress than the other predictors of heart disease and cancer, more evidence of the benefits of a regular Yoga practice.
• At Harvard Medical School, a study of over 1600 survivors of heart attacks showed that anger doubled their risk of further cardiac episodes.
• Other research showed that males who complained of high levels of anxiety were up to six times more apt to die from heart attacks than their calmer peers.
• An international study of almost 3,000 people between the ages of 55 and 85 showed that participants who felt they had some control over the events in their lives had almost 60% fewer deaths than those who felt helpless when faced with life’s adversity.
• Finally, research from the Mayo Clinic showed psychological stress to be the strongest indicator of future heart problems. Other studies there also showed that Yoga helps to manage symptoms of cardiac stress.
Through the disciplines of pranayama, ansanas and meditation, Yoga training opens our hearts both literally and metaphorically. From the physical expansion of the diaphragm to the surrender of subtle energy, our practice helps us to process emotions and release physical blockages.
As Swami Sivananda, Yogi, monk and physician, once said: “Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” To each of us, success means something different. We may have lofty goals but we should focus on the task at hand.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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