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Yoga for your heart: 3 poses to get your heart pumping and blood flowing

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Did you know that the yoga word we translate as “meditate” doesn’t actually mean being mindful? In fact, the yoga word samyama means “wholehearted”—live from your heart not from your head. Instead of ‘sitting down to meditate’, you are better off being “wholehearted” during all of your life activities. Now, how does one become “wholehearted”, you might ask? Well, think of your heart just like a garden hose. If a hose becomes kinked because of carelessness, water does not flow through it. Over time, a kinked hose becomes so brittle from strain, that it breaks. Your heart is the same. If you don’t care for it, or if you stress it and strain it too often, it too will kink and break.

Yoga is a wholehearted exercise that gets your blood flowing like an uncoiled and unkinked hose. All it takes is careful practice. As you grow more and more wholehearted every day, the garden of your life will be a well-watered paradise! Here are three heart-specific yoga exercises to get you started with a nourishing day:

Flaming Heart

1) Stand or sit. Lean forward, and place your hands on your knees.
2) Pull your belly inwards and upwards, again and again, faster and faster.
3) Just like a fireplace bellows, pump the oxygen to your heart with a few dozen belly pulls. Feel your neck growing longer and longer like a bright flame.

Whole Heart

1) Now that your heart is racing, catch it by bringing both palms to the chest.
2) Lean your heart, and feel it uplift, lean and uplift, etc. 
3) Feel your breastbone being split by your heart rate and breath, just like an axe cuts through wood.

Bouncy Ball

1) Now that your energy ball is rolling, pick up the momentum by leaning forward and downward.
2) Make your arms into a circular ball.
3) Instead of getting stuck trying to touch your toes, bounce your weight around freely. Bend your knees, roll your shoulders, sway side to side, lift and drop your wrists. Just keep bouncing!
4) To really get your heart flowing, repeat the whole cycle a few times!

Charlie Higgins is a graduate of Reed College and a certified yoga instructor. Charlie specializes in yoga for retirees, and his classes focus on range-of-motion, peripheral awareness, balance and breathing. As a guest author for Milestone Retirement, Charlie is excited to share fun, safe and easy tips for senior health & wellness.  To learn more, or explore more exercises by Charlie, visit his website:www.samdhyayoga.com.