Heart Wisdom Sept 2023

I often get wonderful feedback from my students on how yoga has changed their lives. And the most obvious change for all of them is this sense of calm and peace and kindness they feel towards themselves and others after class. In a world focused on the mind and the brain, the intelligence of the heart can be overlooked. And yet research shows that while growing in the womb our human heart always develops at least 1-3 days before the brain and nervous system. On day 18, following fertilisation, the heart begins to form. On day 22 the heart begins to pump. The foetal heart is functionally complete at the 7th week and the nervous system is complete by the 18th week. The heart makes an appearance before the brain.

There are more signals sent from the heart to the brain than there are from the brain to the heart. Essentially, the brain is ready and waiting for information; it is in a perpetual and natural state of reception and much of the information the brain needs comes from the heart. Neuroscientists have found that positive emotions cultivated through the practice of joy, gratitude and loving kindness can effect a whole body shift towards harmony so that all systems of the body can attain optimal states of homeostasis or balance. These emotions come from the heart not the brain. And if homeostasis in the body fails, it can lead to disease or death.

The heart has its own intrinsic nervous system (over 40,000 neurons) and the heart can receive information from the external and internal environment before the brain. In a heart coherent state there is a strong connection with our inner voice and an increased intuitive awareness. How many times did your inner wisdom send out a warning bell that something was amiss? And how many times do we kick ourselves for not listening to that inner wisdom? People grounded in their own heart wisdom are very difficult to brainwash and indoctrinate. If their heart wisdom tells them otherwise, this group do not often go along with popular choice.

And when life gets terrible, our heart is under attack. The mechanics of a heart attack is a sudden rupture of an unstable plaque within a coronary artery. During extreme stress, the “fight-or-flight” response jumps into full gear, releasing adrenaline, which raises heart rate and blood pressure, and signals a chemical, neuropeptide Y, which can cause spasms and reduces blood flow in the coronary arteries.

Medical opinion advocates the following strategies to improve heart health, all of which make up a good yoga class! Meditation for the serotonin generated, Yoga for the GABA induced mood stabilization, Laughter (we laugh a lot) for the endorphins, Music for the dopamine regulated auditory effects and Hugging for the oxytocin. Yoga: a perfect formula for a healthy heart.

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