“Open your heart.”
I toss those words around as a yoga teacher and it’s a cue I hear frequently from my teachers. Or we practice “heart opening” yoga poses. What does it even mean? What are we really trying to open anyway? Last month was “heart month.” But let’s honor our hearts all year long. Let’s celebrate this faithful little muscle that has the monumental responsibility of keeping us alive. It brings us life from its first pulsation at 21-22 days after conception until our last breath.
The heart, like a highly organized home, contains four rooms – two ventricles and two atria. There are doors between the rooms known as valves, which open and close diligently, when all is going well. Equipped with a powerful electrical system that dictates the beating of our heart as the “doors” open and close, physically. This opening and closing feeds our body and organs with freshly oxygenated blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
“[r]emember to respect your heart and serve it right, which means giving it loads of nutrition and all of the exercise it needs to stay pumped and ready. Because your heart may be heart-shaped. And it may not be cute. But it is BEAUTIFUL and it is your job to take care of it.” ~ Cameron Diaz
Our “hearts of gold” vary in weight, but are equal in the amount of love we can give and receive. On average a man’s heart is 10 ounces, while a woman’s heart is eight ounces. The signs of heart attack are also unique between genders. Women’s warning signs present more subtly with nausea, indigestion, and/or shoulder aches, rather than the hallmark chest pain with men. Monday mornings are more common than any other day of the week for a heart attack to strike. Not only is the stress hormone cortisol at its peak but also the strain of returning to work after the weekend could set up disruption for our organized “home.”
Besides working out the specialized cardiac muscle of your heart through exercise, yoga, meditation, and breath work, one of the best vitamins is a healthy dose of literally, a hearty laugh. A study found that laughter increases blood flow up to 20% throughout your body. A giggle is a remedy for stress and tension in the body as the lining of the blood vessel walls relax and expand.
Or have SEX. A British study found that an orgasm three to four times a week could protect men against a heart attack or stroke by 50%. The effect of sex on a lady’s heart is unclear except a fulfilling love life invokes overall good health. It is an excellent source of exercise and is a stress buster. If you figure out a way to add comedy into your repertoire on a Monday… your heart will really thank you and be full of happiness and health.
Listen to your heart! Fuel up with healthy nutritious foods, be ACTIVE, and make EXERCISE a priority. Keep your heart in excellent shape; after all, it is a muscle. Research recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week to lower the risk of heart disease. Exercise and yoga also elevate your mood and bonus~ they both reduce stress. Keeping your stress levels in check has a huge effect on protecting your healthy ticker. And make sure to laugh while you are at it, a hearty laugh increases blood flow 20% more through your blood vessels. Honor your heart with love through movement. Remember to cultivate presence in your exercise and yoga practice, and be a source of love everyday, all year long.
When we open our hearts, we welcome honesty and vulnerability into our home.
With love and an open heart,
Amanda Kriebel DPT, E-RYT // @amanda.kriebel
Affectionately described by many as a yoga scientist, Amanda Kriebel is an innovative Doctor of Physical Therapy and Yoga Teacher who humbly claims to be a student of life. Contact her to schedule and appointment in person or via Skype. Learn more about her and her exclusive videos: www.awarenesspt.com | Facebook | Instagram @amanda.kriebel | YouTube Channel