Sunday, 13 August 2017

Youth boost yoga – young at heart


Yoga can help you keep your heart healthy in several ways.  Yoga reduces stress which impacts on heart health.  By reducing stress, yoga also helps to normalise blood pressure and reduce inflammation, both of which are essential for a healthy heart.  Yoga breathing techniques and meditation also help reduce stress.  Yoga also helps strengthen muscles and since the heart is a muscle, this too helps maintain a healthy heart.  
The following sequence will help maintain a healthy heart. 

Start in Savasana, gently close your eyes and allow yourself a few moments to ‘arrive’ at your practice, and watch your breath as it settles into a smooth, natural, rhythmical pattern. 

3 part breath – bring your hands to rest on your tummy, so that your middle fingers meet at your navel.  Without straining direct your breath to the area under your hands, so that on the breath in you feel the abdomen rise, as you breathe out you feel the abdomen release back to the spine.  Continue for several breaths.  When you are ready, bring your hands up to your ribcage so that your middle fingers touch where the ribs separate to a V.  Breathe into the ribcage, directing the breath to the area under the hands.  Feel your ribs move up and out as you breathe in, out and down as you breathe out – continue for several breaths.  Now move your hands so that your fingertips rest on your collarbones.  Breathe into your ribcage and as your breath deepens you may feel your chest rise as you breathe in, release as you breathe out.  Continue for several breaths.  Now to put it all together – place one hand on your abdomen, the other on the ribcage.  Breathe in and feel your abdomen rise, ribs move up and out, the chest expand, breathe out and release the abdomen back to your spine, your ribs move in and down, the chest release.  Continue for several breaths then return to normal breathing, feeling the effect of the breath practice. 

Shoulder bridge – bend your knees so that your heels are close into your buttocks.  Have your hands down by your sides, palms down.  Inhale lift your hips, take your arms over head, exhale bring your arms back by your sides, your hips back down. When you are ready come to all fours. 

Cat/Cow – with your hands directly under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips, inhale lift your head and chest, exhale tuck your chin and arch through your back.  Continue warming up your spine in this way for several movements then come to lying on your belly.


Cobra – lie with your hands at armpit/chest level, your forehead resting on the mat.  Breathe in, lift your head and chest, pressing lightly into your hands.  You should not feel a pinching in the lower back, if you do, lower a little.  Hold for a couple of breaths then breathe out to lower. Repeat twice more then rest in Child pose.

Downward Facing Dog to Standing Forward Bend – when you are ready come back to all fours.  Breathe in, tuck your toes, breath in, lift your hips for Downward Facing Dog.  Take 5 breaths here then walk your feet forward until your shoulders come over your hands.  Use a block if you need to bring the ground nearer, work into straight legs and release the crown of your head down.  If you have heart issues or high blood pressure do not have your head lower than your heart.  When you are ready breathe in and slowly roll up.


Triangle pose – stand in the middle of the mat and step your feet a leg length apart.  Turn the right leg to the right and turn the toes of the left foot in about 45 degrees – men line up front heel to back instep, ladies heel to heel. Breathe in, take your arms out to shoulder height, breathe out take your hips to the left as you extend over your right leg bringing your right hand to your right leg (anywhere except on the knee) and your left hand up toward the ceiling.  Your gaze can be up at the left hand or straight ahead, depending on your neck.  To come out of the pose, breathe in come up, arms out at shoulder height, breathe out turn your feet to face forward, bring your hands to your heart.  Repeat second side.


Tree – stand in the middle of your mat and separate your feet slightly. Take your weight into your left foot and peel your right foot away to cup your left ankle, rest against your left shin or reach down and bring your right foot up to your left thigh.  Find a drishti, gaze point, breathe in and take your arms up.  Hold for several breaths then breathe out to release.  Repeat second side.



Janu sirsasana – sit on your block and bring your right foot to rest against your left inner thigh.  If your right knee does not rest on the floor, support it with another block or a cushion.  Line up your breast bone with your left leg. Breathe in raise your arms, breathe out and hinging from the groin, fold over the left leg, bringing your hands to rest either side of your legs or, if you can do so without straining, hold the sides of your left foot.  Breathe in, lengthen through the crown of your head, breathe out fold, releasing your head down.  Hold for 5 breaths then inhale to come up slowly. Repeat second side.

Seated forward fold – sit on a block with your legs outstretched. Breathe in, raise your arms, breathe out and hinging from the groin fold forward bringing your hands either side of your legs or to the outsides of your feet. Breathe in, lengthen through the crown of your head, breathe out fold, release the crown of your head down. Hold for five breaths then inhale to slowly come up. 

Savansana-lie back on your mat, close your eyes and sink into the support of the earth to receive the benefits of your practice. Stay here 10-15 minutes before deepening your breath, stretching out, then turning onto your right side for a minute before coming up.

Please also see Youth boost yoga-spinal flexibility and Age reverse - Heart

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Namaste,




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