My apologies, friends, as my new mom brain has been in full effect during the month of January. I swear to you: more regular blogging will find its way back into my regular schedule soon — in-between early morning feedings, marathon diaper changings and cuddle sessions with the cutest two month old this side of I-480.
So with all of that, that should put us back in a routine sometime in February — which is the month when I will partner up with the Cleveland office of the American Heart Association for their annual Heart Month and their Go Red for Women campaign.
What is Go Red For Women? From the Heart Association’s website: “In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an older man’s disease. To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease & stroke as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women, a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.”
Those familiar with my weight loss story know that it was sparked by the opportunity to take my health back. In January of 2002, I was a freshman in college, weighing more than 250 pounds. I knew for a long time I was overweight, but seeing photos from a sorority event made me realize it was time to do something about my health — to take responsibility for it. Nearly eight years later, I weighed 120 pounds less, and seven years after that, today, I am looking to refocus my healthy lifestyle as I restart the weight loss journey after giving birth this past Fall. Mama’s half way back to her pre-pregnancy weight, but has more to go to get back to her happy weight!
The AHA will tell you that staying active is one of the most important things we can do to help curb obesity, lower chances of heart disease and be healthier overall. There are so many activities to choose from — kickboxing, bicycling and hiking are some of my favorites, but yoga has a special place in my heart. As a certified yoga teacher since 2012, I’ve seen how the practice can change a person — mentally, physically and emotionally. So it’s no wonder that the poses of yoga have the opportunity to assist us in living longer, heart-healthier lives.
As I start the weight loss process, I am making sure to incorporate yoga where I can in my day — formal 30-60 minute sessions throughout the week when I can, mini-sessions throughout the day or after a more intense workout, or even just a moment to follow my breath, clear my mind and slow my heart rate. So it’s my pleasure to share some suggestions on poses and methods anyone can do to reap the benefits of yoga for your very own heart!
Heart Healthy Yoga Poses
To build strength in the core and increase the heart rate to improve cardiovascular health.
Press down through the feet, lift the hips, create space in the chest and feel your heart rate increase. Hold for ten breaths and see if you can lift the hips higher on the inhales to feel it really working!
In this balancing pose, cultivate awareness in your heart center by pressing your thumbs into your chest and see if you can focus on your heart beating.
RECLINED COBBLER’S POSE
Another opportunity to focus on your heart — this time in a supine, relaxed position. A personal favorite of mine.
SAVASANA (CORPSE POSE)
Rest and relaxation is just as much an important part of heart health as an increased aerobic activity. Make time to relax!
Start with just five minutes of finding a comfortable seat (on the floor or in a chair), closing your eyes and following your breath — noticing your inhale, then your exhale. And repeat!
Other suggestions include Sun Salutations A and B (Details here and here. These can really get the heart beat going fast!) and these various backbends, which bring focus to your heart center, an area that houses your energies of caring and compassion — important when practicing yoga!
Looking to get involved in the AHA’s mission? Save these upcoming dates next month:
- Month of February: Heart Month — all month long help build awareness for the organization!
- Friday, February 3rd: National Wear Red Day
- Friday, February 10th: Go Red For Women Luncheon and Expo at the Huntington Convention Center — join us by purchasing tickets here.
- Learn about Protecting Your Heart with Shibani from She In The Cle
- Add hints of red hues to your interior design with Danielle Harper DeBoe
- Show some love for heart healthy tacos with Reena Goodwin
- Go red in Cleveland and cook up some fun with Jen from WhyCLE?
Many thanks to the Cleveland American Heart Association for their partnership and the opportunity to bring some yoga to your heart health! Follow the non-profit locally on Facebook, Twitter at @ClevelandAHA and Instagram at @ClevelandAHA.