YOGA for a Healthy Heart
by Matt Gluck
Yoga is a system through which we gain insight into the mystery and for some mastery over the inner and outer systems. What’s closer to us than our heart? Some are thrilled by the tales of yogis who can slow or stop its beating. The heart muscle is the first organ to form in the body. Its life, a poise of strength and elasticity, epitomises Yoga; it mediates energy via the balancing of tension and relaxation throughout the organism. The heart’s four chambers work in two pairs, contracting to transmit or relaxing to receive blood. It is surrounded by connective tissue with myofascial integrity; if the mind or emotions clench, this impedes regular flow and causes stagnation. Balancing arteries (yang) moving blood outward with veins (yin), gathering back in to centre, provides a regular pulse. This cardiac stability promotes wellbeing and the insight that we have all we need within, if only we listen to our heart. Through breathing and relaxation techniques we access voluntary and involuntary nervous systems, gaining an element of control over the chemical production in the bloodstream. The body is bio-electromagnetic; tuning in to, receiving, conducting, transporting and storing currents. The heart is the body’s greatest battery, able to generate a higher electro-magnetic charge than any other ‘cell’. It produces this electrical charge within its cells and is an awareness transmitter and receiver for both physical and spiritual life.
As we float between the pressures of gravity and levity, we gain insight into balancing blood pressure and nerve tension. A healthy system self regulates; free flowing blood is cleansed, supplying more oxygen and effectively discharging waste upon venous return. Blood pressure (yin) and circulation (yang) partner to facilitate maximum vitality absorption. Bodily and emotional pain is reduced as healthy hormones, painkillers and sedatives are released throughout the system. Awareness allows one to maximise diaphragmatic pressure, which keeps the traffic (blood) moving through the system. This dramatically reduces the amount the heart has to work, allowing it to function on a higher level. When the belly relaxes we gravitate to earth; the diaphragm moves, air flows to or from the lungs and blood moves into or out of the heart’s chambers. This rhythmic breathing relaxes the autonomic nervous system, reducing excess tension within the ‘fight of flight’ branch and stress hormones circulating through the heart. This soothes and retunes its pace and balances all other physiological processes.
Applying conscious breathing with movement/stillness synthesis, yoga accesses the heart’s mind and through meditation and relaxation, the mind’s heart. Correct practice encourages the central nervous system to function optimally; “electrical wires” (nerves) are cleansed, glands and neural pathways tuned to cosmic harmonics. Health is a balance of fullness and emptiness. Disease occurs when we try to fill our emptiness when it is inappropriate. When we learn to embrace having and not having, doing and not doing, we find true and permanent peace.