La Jolla Mom

Why Yoga Keeps Your Heart Healthy And Poses That Help

BY La Jolla Mom

We associate hearts with February mostly because of Valentine’s Day. However, it is also American Heart Month, a partnership between the CDC, American Heart Association and others who are focused on raising awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the number one killer of women. We can change our diets and make other lifestyle improvements, but one simple way to help our heart become physically and emotionally healthy is to add yoga into our routine. Anyone can do yoga and I would encourage you to try it, regardless of your fitness level. I did a little research of my own and had the opportunity to ask Alexandra Oehmigen-Gessner, MA, R-YT, Director at Prana Yoga here in La Jolla a few questions regarding yoga and heart health.

The Cardiovascular Benefits Of Yoga

We all understand that yoga is a good thing to do, but for those who need statistics, there have been studies lately showing that people with cardiovascular disease show signs of improvement after as little as 6 weeks of yoga, 3 times per week. Some of the participants in this yoga study by the Yale School of Medicine already had cardiovascular disease and their blood vessel function improved by a whopping 70% percent (the average was 17%, including those without cardiovascular disease). There are many reasons for this:

  • Stress is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Yoga and meditation help relieve stress.
  • Yoga is exercise. All exercise improves blood vessel function.
  • Yoga is a different form of exercise. I don’t know about you, but I physically feel better after I do yoga in a way that I don’t after a rigorous cardio session. My posture is better and I am less prone to injury, enabling me to exercise more. Not to mention I am always in a better mood after a yoga class.

The Spiritual Side Of Yoga

Alexandra explains this best and as someone who enjoys yoga, I completely agree with her. The connection between mind, body and heart is undeniable.

We all know how it feels to go through life with a closed heart – or walls around us – versus opening our heart and approaching people with kindness and compassion. What Yoga aims to do is pull us away from fears, worries, resentments, etc., the constant chatter of our minds,  into the present moment. When we can experience that our body, mind and heart is in union (which is Yoga’s ultimate goal).

As moms we might experience this e.g. when we are fully immersed in playing with our children, even if only for a few minutes, but you are in the moment and just enjoying it.  The focus on breathing in Yoga helps calm down the nervous system and helps us focus on the present moment.

I think that’s why Yoga is so appealing to many people – because it reminds us and brings our attention back to  the things that matter – while we get a workout and take care of our body.

– Alexandra Oehmigen-Gessner, MA, R-YT, Director at Prana Yoga

Heart-healthy Yoga Poses

There are so many heart-healthy yoga poses, but Alexandra singled these out as particularly so. They are present in most yoga classes or you can do them at home on your own time.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Feet can be together or hip distance apart. Feel your feet equally balanced so that you’re not pushing too much weight toward your toes or heels. Pull up your knee caps (knees are not locked), tuck your hips a bit and raise your hands above your head. Lift the crown of your head toward the sky and breathe.

Warrior Pose: From Mountain Pose (above), jump to horizontally extended arms and legs. Rotate your feet, lean to one side and bend that knee. Warrior is illustrated perfectly in the photo below.

Prana Yoga La Jolla Warrior Pose
Tree pose: Start in Mountain Pose and lift one foot so that the sole meets the opposite inner thigh. Balance and lengthen your arms over your head.

Bottom Line – You Can Choose Yoga Because:

  • Science backs up what most yogi already know.
  • It connects your mind, body and soul together.
  • Yoga just makes you feel good.

Any of these reasons is valid. And, if you haven’t tried yoga before, please do. Here is your chance.

Why Choose Prana Yoga

Prana Yoga La Jolla
Prana has been around for 10 years. It was founded by Gerhard Gessner (Alexandra’s husband), a La Jolla resident of 33 years who has been teaching Yoga in La Jolla for nearly 30 years.

Prana is very community-oriented – we know our student’s names – and the student body reflects the eclectic mix of all kinds of interesting people who chose LJ as their home. From Scripps scientists, to doctors, local small business owners, busy moms, students, surfers, artists, etc.

– Alexandra Oehmigen-Gessner, MA, R-YT, Director Prana Yoga

There are more than 40 classes on offer per week taught by experienced instructors who often bring additional expertise their yoga classes. One teacher combines yoga and physical therapy, another was a member of the London-based Yoga performance company, known as the ”˜Cirque de Soleil’ of yoga. The latest addition is a busy, local mom of 2. Once her kids were old enough she pursued her dream and got certified through Prana as a yoga teacher.

While our instructors are experts and take teaching the art of Yoga seriously, there is always a light energy – people ultimately want to have fun, feel good and be happy. Our intention is to provide that to students from all walks of life and give them the space to exhale, tune in to themselves and enjoy some special ”˜me time.’

– Alexandra Oehmigen-Gessner, MA, R-YT, Director at Prana Yoga

Give yourself the care you deserve by doing yoga.

*Photo credits: Prana Yoga

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5 thoughts on “Why Yoga Keeps Your Heart Healthy And Poses That Help

  1. Hi! My 5 year old son was born with a congenital heart defect and has had numerous open heart surgeries. We walk to/from school every day and he does karate 3x/week. I’ve been curious about getting him (and myself) into yoga. I was wondering if you’ve come across any good kid-friendly yoga videos. I’d love to be able to do yoga with him a few times a week before our walk to school.

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