The first Friday in February is the American Heart Association‘s National Wear Red Day, part of their Go Red for Women campaign. Heart attacks and strokes cause one out of every three deaths of women annually. It’s a day that’s especially poignant to me because my mom and her mom and sister have cardiovascular disease. Their experiences with heart disease and cancer led me to obtain Yoga of the Heart certification.
Education and healthy living can help prevent some incidents or reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease. Yoga can be part of a healthy lifestyle, whatever your current fitness level. Please note: you should always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness regimen. Yoga teachers and styles run the gamut from vigorous and fitness-oriented to quiet and meditative, so doing a little research and trying different classes can help you find what works best for you.
One of my favorite heart-opening poses is anahatasana, or heart-melting pose.The anahata, or heart, chakra is the balancing point between our lower level and higher level chakras. It associated with love and compassion and making decisions based on our higher self.
Note: If getting down on the floor isn’t accessible to you, you could do this pose seated in a chair. To do the seated version, sit toward the forward edge of a chair with the spine straight, hold on the back of the chair with your hands close to the seat, and arch the back and lift through the heart.
- Bad neck
- Tingling in hands
Getting into the Pose:
- From hands and knees, keep the hips directly over the knees
- Walk the hands forward and pivot shoulders so head comes between the arms (upper body is in the same position as in downward-facing dog)
- Allow chest top drop toward the floor
- Hold 2 to 5 minutes
- If shoulder pain, walk hands wider than shoulder distance apart and/or rest chest on a bolster
- If neck pain, support the head with a folded blanket or block
- For knee pain, blanket underneath
- Toes can be tucked under for stability
- For more intensity, rest chest and/or chin on floor (looking up between the hands)
- Stretches middle and upper back
- Opens shoulders
- Softens heart
Meridians & Organs Affected:
- Urinary Bladder
- Stomach and spleen lines
- Heart and lung meridians
- Upper back and neck
- Lower spine
- Shoulder/humerus joints
- Walk hands back under shoulders or slide forward onto belly
- Child’s pose
- Downward facing dog
Sources: Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice; Biff Mithoefer, The Yin Yoga Kit: The Practic of Quiet Power; and Bernie Clark, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga
Peace and love,