The Yoga Way Of Life For Heart Health

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Has­mukh Ad­hia

Heart is the most im­por­tant or­gan of our body. Thirty per­cent of all deaths in the world are be­cause of heart-re­lated is­sues. That is why any­thing that is most im­por­tant is de­scribed as be­ing at the heart of the is­sue. While med­i­cal sci­ence has its own pre­scrip­tion for pre­vent­ing or cur­ing heart dis­eases, yoga pro­vides an ex­cel­lent pre­ven­tive life­style.

Stress is iden­ti­fied as the No1en­emy of the heart. Stress is a re­sult of speed of thought in the mind and neg­a­tive emo­tions. Yoga is a tech­nique, for slow­ing down speed of the mind and mak­ing it qui­eter and more fo­cused. Yoga’s ben­e­fit to the body comes through mind im­prove­ment. Patan­jali’s def­i­ni­tion of yoga is ‘yo­gas­chit vriti nirod­hah’ – con­trol­ling mod­i­fi­ca­tion of mind is yoga. Vashishta said, ‘Manasah prashaman­sya up­ayah’ – Yoga is a tech­nique of mak­ing the mind quiet.

Heart is as­so­ci­ated with cleans­ing and pump­ing fresh blood in the body. Blood gets pu­ri­fied by oxy­gen and oxy­gen is in­fused by prana. Pranayama, which is part of yoga, is there­fore a very use­ful tech­nique for reg­u­lar­is­ing flow of breath in the body. That helps our heart. Cleans­ing tech­niques of yoga called kriyas, such as ka­palb­hati, are also use­ful in detox­i­fy­ing our lungs. That im­proves sup­ply of oxy­gen, too.

Heart is more than an or­gan; it sig­ni­fies emo­tions, too. When some­one is in love, he feels it in his heart. And when love fails, he says his heart is broken. Love comes with a set of other emo­tions such as care and con­cern for the beloved, de­vo­tion, loy­alty, trust, hap­pi­ness and sur­ren­der. These emo­tions are part of Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti Yoga pro­motes true love. Hav­ing trust in the jus­tice sys­tem of God and hav­ing un­con­di­tional lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with God is bhakti yoga. It makes us se­cure. It re­duces stress.

Heart is also as­so­ci­ated with com­pas­sion. When we say, ‘have a heart’, it means ‘be com­pas­sion­ate, have mercy’. Com­pas­sion to all is a di­vine qual­ity; it comes from the heart. And it fills the heart with good, pos­i­tive feel­ings. When we have en­joyed some­thing thor­oughly, we say ‘I had a heart­ful of mu­sic to­day’. This sig­ni­fies con­tent­ment, one of the pre­scrip­tions of Ash­tanga Yoga.

Heart sig­ni­fies courage, too. We say this all the time – Some­one who shows courage is called a ‘brave­heart’. Courage comes from strong will power. It comes from un­der­stand­ing the re­al­ity of who I am. When one knows Self to be an in­de­struc­tible, ever-present en­tity, and not mere body-mind com­plex, one gets real courage to do big things. This knowl­edge of Self comes from Jnana Yoga, log­i­cal un­der­stand­ing of who I am, through study of Vedanta.

Yoga for heart is not lim­ited to asana and pranayama. It is a way of life. Asana, pranayama and med­i­ta­tion have to be part of one’s daily rou­tine. But in ad­di­tion, one has to also un­der­stand and im­ple­ment prin­ci­ples of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga.

Car­ry­ing on one’s given duty in life with­out self­ish­ness, care­less­ness and ego, is Karma Yoga. Hav­ing trust­ing re­la­tion­ship with the Cre­ator is Bhakti Yoga. And daily study of scrip­tures/ good lit­er­a­ture to un­der­stand who I am is part of Jnana Yoga. Adopt­ing these prac­tices is to live a yoga way of life. That will keep your heart in place. (To­mor­row is World Heart Day). Has­mukh Ad­hia is for­mer fi­nance sec­re­tary, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia.

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