February has become heart health awareness month because of Valentine’s Day. The American Heart Association spreads heart-health awareness with their Happy #HeartMonth campaign in February. I’m jumping on board teaching weekly themes in my classes related to nourishing our hearts physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and spreading the message of metta (loving kindness) and ahimsa (non-violence.)
Below are a few tips to add to the multitudes of articles you can google right now on heart-health advice (LOL), as well as links to my recent podcast offerings, Enjoy!
3 Simple Heart-healthy Tips
- Physical: Exercise…without exercising!
- Multi-task by getting your chores done and burning calories at the same time! One of the best ways to daily strengthen your heart is by moving through your daily routine and chores. Activate NEAT! Non-exercise activity thermogenesis counts as moving your body and getting your heart pumping. Chores, parking your car a little further to get a few more steps in at the grocery store…it all counts towards nourishing your heart! To make it fun, add a little oomph by putting a little muscle into mopping, a little dancing into your dishwashing, and a little wiggle into your dog-walking.
2. Mental: Create lifestyle choices to support both brain health AND mental health.
- What are you doing to nourish or harm your brain?
- What are you doing to nourish or harm your thoughts?
- I see and have shared about mental health practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and movement, and if the health of the brain is not being addressed, it can affect mental health. One obvious example for me: I have personally experienced the effect of gluten on my brain, and mental health. I could sit and meditate for hours a day but, if I would eat bread or pasta, I would feel depressed, fatigued, sluggish. It was a breakthrough to discover this connection between my inflamed brain from gluten to how it contributed to a depressed state of mind and low energy, and how it could also increase my risk of heart disease.
- “A large and growing body of research shows that mental health is associated with risk factors for heart disease before a diagnosis of a mental health disorder and during treatment. These effects can arise both directly, through biological pathways, and indirectly, through risky health behaviors.” Read full article here
- Acknowledging this connection between mental health and heart health is one step to making mindful choices to care for your precious brain and state of mind.
3. Emotional: Feel all the feels as a path to freedom from suffering.
- I acknowledge this “simple” tip may not always feel easy.
- Ask yourself if holding onto or hiding your emotions is taking more energy than allowing yourself to feel them, journal, talk to someone?
- ” The heart and the mind are intimately connected. Negative states of mind, including depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger and chronic stress, may increase the risk for heart disease over time or worsen heart issues that already exist.”
- “The American Heart Association recommends that every heart patient be routinely screened for depression. Additionally, a new emotion-based approach to heart health, called cardiac psychology, focuses on the mental health needs of cardiac patients. It promotes tools, like stress management and psychotherapy, to help patients cope with their disease.”
- “The heart and mind co-exist. Don’t ignore emotions that can overwhelm your life, like chronic stress, anxiety, depression and anger. Find ways to take care of your emotional well-being and your heart will thank you.”
- Read full article here.
My Spiritually Fit Yoga podcast offerings this week:
- Yoga for Vertigo (Half Somersault Maneuver by Dr. Carol Foster)
- Walking Meditation inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh (with nature sounds)
- Walking Meditation inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh (with silence)
Themes for my loving-kindness and heart-opening classes this month:
Week 1: Create Space (lumbar spine release and hip-openers)
Week 2: Loosen Your Grip (half-bow/bow pose)
Week 3: Allow (camel pose)
Week 4: Receive (bridge and wheel poses)
“LOVING KINDNESS The first element of true love is loving kindness. The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh, How to Love
A Meditation For You
Breathing in, I am aware of my heart.
Breathing out, I smile to my heart and know that my heart still functions normally.
I feel grateful for my heart.
Are you teaching a heart related theme in your classes this month? Please share below in the comments along with a link to your offerings.
May you practice loving kindness towards your precious heart, others, our planet and all beings. And, in honor of the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh who transitioned at the age of 95 on January 22, 2022, may you commit to cultivating world peace by practicing and sharing mindfulness.
Amelia Diaz Andaeon