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Yoga for the Heart and Circulatory System

By on December 23, 2015

Cardiac (heart) disease and arteriosclerosis (blood vessel degeneration) are the largest killers in the affluent sectors of world society today. Every year, many millions of people die from the complications of cardiovascular degeneration – including hypertension, chronic heart failure, stroke (cerebro-vascular accident) and kidney disease. In addition, many more experience the anguish of chest pains known as angina pectoris, which indicate cardiac strain in the activities of their daily life.

The causes and effects of heart strain are many and complex, involving the nervous system, through which mental and emotional processes influence the cardiac function, and the metabolic, digestive and reproductive systems, which frequently place excessively heavy demands upon the heart.

The heart and circulatory system or the heart of the matter

The heart is a unique neuromuscular pump which is at the center of all human activity. It is responsible for maintaining the circulation of the blood throughout the body. Every part of the body is dependent upon the heart, and if it ceases to work, the whole body creases to function within few minutes. The heart beats untiringly, night and day, from the beginning of life to the last, dying breath. When the body rests, it beats quietly and slowly. When exercising, the heart immediately quickens its pace to increase the volume of blood reaching the distant muscles and cells.

The power of the heart depends on the fibers in its muscular walls. Damage to these fibers produces striking changes in the pattern and efficiency of blood circulation. Many factors are responsible for maintaining the volume and pressure of the blood. These include the condition of the heart valves, the influence of the nervous system in controlling the internal diameter of the blood vessels, and the amount of fluid in the blood stream. However, the primary condition of the heart muscle is most important of all.

The heart is composed of a unique type of muscle known as cardiac muscle, which is more durable than any other muscular tissue in the body. It enables the heart to continue its repetitive function ceaselessly, without faltering. No other organ works as long or as hard as the heart.

The arterial circulation

The blood circulates from the heart to the body through a complex network of conducting pipe-ways known as arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries are the largest and strongest type of blood vessel. They distribute freshly oxygenated blood from the heart to the smaller blood vessels, called capillaries. They may become hardened so that the elastic tissue in their walls loses its flexibility. This can constrict the arteries, raise the blood pressure and thereby increase the work of the heart. It may also lead to insufficient blood supply to the heart itself and to other body organs.

The chambers of the heart

The inside of the heart is composed of four chambers. Blood containing a rich supply of oxygen arrives from the lungs to be distributed to the body. It first enters the left atrium or upper chamber, and flows from this chamber into the larger left ventricle. This is the chamber upon which most of the blood circulation depends. The instant the left ventricle begins to contract, the mitral valve snaps shut, closing the connecting door to the left atrium. At almost the same instant, the aortic valve opens, allowing blood to rush through the aorta to the other arterial branches of the body.

Chambers of the Heart

Chambers of the Heart

The coronary arteries

All main arteries of the body branch off from the aorta. The first two branches are known as coronary arteries, which are about 12 cms long and 3 mm in diameter. These arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the left and right sides of the heart muscles itself. If one of them becomes narrowed, the whole of the circulation system may fail, as the muscle fibers of the heart itself are deprived of nourishing oxygen. In a healthy person there is always sufficient blood flowing into these arteries to meet the needs of the heart, but sometimes they become partially or totally blocked. This can be caused by blood clots, constriction due to nervous spasm or hardening of the vessel walls. In these cases, heart attack and heart failure can occur. Degeneration of the blood vessel walls is termed arteriosclerosis. It is related to an animal diet, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise and excessive mental stress and strain.

The venous return

The right atrium and right ventricle operate in a similar way to the left atrium and left ventricle. They pump oxygen depleted blood, filled with carbon dioxide wastes, the lungs. This blood, that has deposited its oxygen in the cells of the body, flows back to the right side of the heart through the network of veins, and is pumped into the lungs. In the lungs it gives up the carbon dioxide wastes from the distant cells and these are expelled from the body with expiration. In exchange, a fresh supply of oxygen is taken up, and this blood flows back to the left side of the heart to be pumped out to the cells of the body once again.

The work capacity of the heart

The amount of work done by the heart in one day is almost beyond belief. For life to continue, the process of circulation must go on ceaselessly. The heart must pump, 24 hours a day, 50-80 times a minute, from birth to death. When heart beats stops, life automatically ceases. This amounts to 100,000 contractions in one day, or 37 million times in one year. In an average life span of seventy years, this amounts to two and a half billion beats. No man-made machine has such reliability and durability.

Like any other pump, the heart is subject to wear and tear, especially if it is abused and overstrained. The key to a long life lies in preserving the heart from excessive strain of all kinds. This must include preservation of mental and emotional balance, dietary control, adequate exercise and sleep, and is best attained by following a yogic lifestyle. If the heart has been damaged by disease, it will repair itself while it works. If its valves become thickened because of disease, such as rheumatic fever, the muscular walls of the heart will thicken in an attempt to compensate for any loss of efficiency. Under the stress of extreme exercise or fever, it will go on pumping at a rate of up to two or three times its normal speed to enable the body to overcome the crisis.

The Pacemaker

The rate at which the heart beats is governed by the pace maker or SA node, a small fragment of specialized nervous tissue located near the top right side of the heart. This node generates a spontaneous rhythmic electrical impulse which is conducted throughout the upper chambers of the heart and then on to all the muscle fibers, initiating the cardiac contraction. Thus the heartbeat is controlled by the output of impulses from the pacemaker, which is in turn governed by the ever changing needs of the body.

The seat of human emotion

The heart’s function is intimately related to our emotional metabolism. Our emotional states directly influence the behavior of the heart, and heart disease is often as much an emotional disorder as a physical disease. An anxious, over tense mind, always gripped by worries and problems or an unruly mind, constantly bursting into habitual states of anger, passion or sorrow, causes wild, uncontrolled activation of the sympathetic nervous system and floods the circulation with the stress hormones, adrenaline and non-adrenaline. The heart rate is elevated above its optimal resting state, which subjects it to strain.

Similarly, the stresses of interpersonal relationships, encompassing the expression of the whole range of human emotions, instincts and desires which must be experienced as we evolve, place constant demands upon the heart and the endocrine glands. When the expression of the passion and unruly emotions is uncontrolled and unmanageable, hormone secretions become unbalanced and wayward, and the heart labours excessively. Sympathetic activation is also responsible for sending the small arteries into a state of spasm or permanent contraction. Consequently, the heart must pump against a high back pressure of blood in the arterial tree, and hypertension (high blood pressure) inevitably results.

Hypertension is a serious and damaging disorder, accelerating blood vessel damage, leading to kidney and heart failure, and posing the constant threat of sudden death by stroke (bursting of a blood vessel in the brain).

Until recently doctors believed that heart attack (myocardial infarction) was caused by blood clot lodging in one of the coronary arteries. However, it is now accepted that in many cases of heart attack, there is probably no blood clot, and that the attack is a functional crisis in the nervous system, caused by a spasm of the coronary arteries, and is due to over activation of the sympathetic nervous system. The same applies to angina, a chronic, ongoing form of partial coronary occlusion where spasm of the coronary arteries is an important factor.

It is now appears that in both these common heart diseases, the most important precipitating cause is spasm of the coronary artery, caused by high levels of mental tension acting through the automatic nerve fibres that supply the arteries themselves.

Emotional tension is one prominent cause of heart attack. Most coronary patients are found to have suffered a deep and significant emotional hurt or disappointment during the month before, or even one year before, the heart attack.

Relation of cardiac and sexual functions

Both our emotions and our instincts demand an outlet, and this commonly occurs via the sexual behavior. The human reproductive system is controlled by the pituitary (master) gland.

The pituitary gland is controlled by the hypothalamus releasing hormones from the brain which are synthesized in response to our various mental and emotional states. This means that the formation of semen in the male and the menstrual cycle in the female result directly from the emotional metabolism.

When certain types of emotions are elevated or are uncontrolled, high levels of sexual hormones testosterone in the male, and oestrogen and progesterone in the female, are synthesized by the gonads (testes and ovaries) and secreted into the bloodstream. These hormones activate the reproductive and sexual organs, which become the mediums for emotional expression and release.

Men are far more likely to suffer from vascular and degenerative heart disease than women, up to the age of menopause. Researchers believe that it is high levels of the androgenic or masculine hormones which are responsible both for the characteristic aggressiveness of the ‘cardiac personality’, and for damage to the vessels of the heart itself in coronary disease.

Recent research has revealed the existence of specific androgenic receptors in the walls of the heart chambers and the large arteries, which are thought to mediate cardiac damage. This may mean that men are more prone to certain types of the heart disease than women because women have lower levels of androgens (male hormones). Oestrogen may even protect them from heart problems and may explain the relative health of the female heart up to the stage of menopause.

It has been found that in the premenopausal years, male cardiac sufferers outnumber females by ratio of two to one, but within a few years of completion of menopause, the incidence of heart disease between the two sexes is found to be virtually identical. Yogis state that by balancing the emotional and sexual activities, the hormone level is reduced and balanced and a man can preserve the health of his heart. Of course, many factors are involved.

The role of Diet for Heart Problems

Medical scientists have found that the degree of cardiac and arterial degeneration is closely related to the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed in the diet. Most doctors today accept that the modern diet contains too many fats, too much protein and excessive calories. An excessively rich diet is believed to contribute to many of modern man’s diseases, which result from habitual overloading and overtaxing of the digestive organs.

In a widely reported American study of the condition of the heart and blood vessels of fit, young soldiers who died of accidents causes, pathologists reported that the blood vessels of these young men in their twenties and thirties already showed the degenerative changes of arteriosclerosis.  There blood vessel walls were found to be coated with white deposits of greasy cholesterol and fat, known as atheromatous plaques. This study caused widespread alarm in medical circles when it was published and led many doctors to dramatically alter their own dietary habits. While it was previously well-known that the blood vessels of a 55 or 60 year old who died of heart failure, stroke or infarction were inevitably found to be in terribly degenerated and clogged state, this study revealed clearly that arteriosclerosis is an ongoing process, perhaps commencing even in childhood, and certainly well underway by the thirtieth year of life.

The deposition of cholesterol is now widely accepted to be one fundamental cause of cardiovascular degeneration and death. A high level of blood cholesterol can be lowered by adopting a low fat, low cholesterol, vegetarian diet based on whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables. Replacement of animal fats such as fatty meats, butter, cream and ghee with unsaturated vegetable oils is recommended. Such a diet is routinely prescribed for heart patients, and physicians now accept that is helps not only to arrest cholesterol deposition but even to reverse the horrible process of fatty arterial degeneration by gradually remobilizing cholesterol deposits from the vessel walls.

More recent study have shown that meditation also effectively lowers the level of cholesterol in the serum, and this is one reason why relaxation and meditation are considered so necessary, along with dietary modification, in the yoga program for the heart patient. The serum (blood fluid remaining after the red blood cells have been extracted) of an individual taking high fat, high cholesterol diet is found to be thick, turbid and milky, while that of a low cholesterol vegetarian is found to be clear and transparent. It is easy to appreciate the greater burden on the heart which has to pump this thick turbid fluid, heavily laden with fat globules, throughout the body, day in and day out for many years.

The cardiac personality

Cardiologists recognize that a particular ‘cardiac personality’ type is most prone to heart disease. The sufferer is most commonly a middle-aged man who has an aggressive, self-assertive and competitive nature. He is usually successful in his field and done well in life by driving himself to the limit. He sets high personal standards and expects others to conform to these standards. He often becomes a ‘workaholic’ using his work as his sole means of self-fulfillment, while tending to avoid painful emotional encounters and responsibilities in the family.

While appearing a most strong-willed and independent character on the surface, his inner, subjective nature may be quite the opposite. He is frequently a highly sensitive perceptive and even artistic person, but has suppressed this softer side of his personality. The contrast often leads to an inner conflict which lies at the root of heart strain and cardiac diseases.

In yogic therapy, it is often difficult for the cardiac personality to relax and utilize yoga in a non-competitive way. His mind is so achievement oriented that relaxation and the attitude of letting go, surrender and acceptance is very unnatural for him at first. Nevertheless, if this lesson can be learned, progress is assured.

Yoga balances the emotions

Because the emotions play such a fundamental role in the genesis of cardiac disease, it is not sufficient that a heart patient adopt a low fat diet alone in order to manage his condition. According to yogic science, it is essential for sufferers of cardiac strain or those recovering from cardiac crisis, to recognize their patterns of emotional response and the effects these have upon the heart and mind. This is achieved through the practices of yogic relaxation, yoga nidra and meditation. Mastery of a scientific technique or relaxation like yoga nidra is the most important first step in recovery from cardiac crisis through yoga.

This is because heart patients are often very much ruled by their emotional states, even though they may appear on the surface to be very calm, cool and collected personalities. Suppressed emotions, which are held deep inside and denied expression for many years due to feelings of shame, guilt or rejection, are nevertheless registered as a continuing, excessive heart strain and are found to be major contributing factors in many heart diseases.

By practising yoga, the individual is gradually liberated from these deep emotional complexes, fears, and inadequacies which are harboured in the subconscious mind. Often they are the impression of unpleasant experiences from early childhood. These may never enter conscious awareness, but they nevertheless generate a high level of floating anxiety in daily life, coloring interactions, responses, attitudes and decisions. This is a root cause of constant tension and also of constant strain upon the heart.

The yogic practices unburden the heart, leading one to regain a child’s emotions and outlook on life: open, simple and spontaneous. This provides enormous mental and cardiac relief for the heart patient, who is frequently deeply entwined in the emotional complexes of fear, self-pity, aggression, betrayal or anger. As relaxation occurs, pent-up emotions are liberated and the patient gradually learn to live, think and feel simply and honestly and to express feeling openly. Personality disturbance due to suppression is avoided, and outburst of anger, excitement or passion, no longer overwhelm the mind and overtax the heart.

Imagine the deep relaxation the heart would experience if it were freed from lurking anxieties and subconscious tensions. That is what the cardiac patient needs more than anything else and that is what yogic meditation, relaxation and other practices bring about.

Inadequacy of medical solutions in Heart Problems

Medical sciences have developed many powerful drugs to control the symptoms and effects of cardiac strain, hypertension and heart failure. These drugs are often life-saving in the acute situation of a heart attack or hypertensive crisis. They lower a dangerously high blood pressure, stabilize a rapidly failing heart or relieve the pain of excessive cardiac effort (angina). However, they can never be the total solution to the problem because they do not get to the fundamental cause of heart disease and correct it.

Many patients depend on drugs for relief of symptoms for years or even decades, without realizing or coming to terms with the root cause of their condition. They grow tired and die before understanding what is fundamentally wrong with their mental and cardiac health, living out the remainder of their lives in an atmosphere of increasing suffering and discomfort.

When the emotions are known, experienced and expressed consciously, with an increasing faculty of awareness, cardiac strain can be reduced at its origins. This is why it is essential for cardiac patients to practice yoga under careful guidance, in conjunction with their medical therapy. Then they can gradually recognize and evolve beyond the limitation which is causing their heart and circulatory system to degenerate and their mind to suffer.

Yoga for Heart and Circulatory System Problem

Yoga offers a tried and proven method for alleviating the emotional conflicts which impose enormous strain upon the heart and leads to heart disease and its complications. Yoga provides a way of life by which the heart can be maintained in optimal condition right up to the end of life, as well as a way of relieving cardiac strain and illness.

In order to relieve the heart of its continuing burden, the emotional conflicts, dependencies, needs must first be known, accepted and expressed then ultimately they can be transcended. The emotional metabolism cannot simply be suppressed out of existence, because suppression leads to mental disorders and physical disease. However, by following the path of yoga systematically, the emotions can be known and expressed in healthy, fulfilling way which is not detrimental to health and which preservers the heart from crisis.

Meditation is fundamental to yogic life. It gradually instills peace, stability and increasing awareness into the life of the individual who is trapped in the throes of pain, fear, insecurity and emotional agony which accompany heart disease. Meditation induces a change in both body and mind. The body temperature, metabolic rate and endocrine secretion patterns undergo a profound, spontaneous change, the mind becomes deeply relaxed and the heart becomes very, very quiet. The emotions are not extinguished, but their expression alters. Gradually, the heart rejoices as if relieved of tremendous burden and soars skyward, expressing emotion in a joyful, transcendental way, no longer limited by the instinctive personality.

Yoga program for heart and circulatory disease

A tired and overworked heart needs rest more than anything else, for rest enables the levels of vital energy, prana, to build up and begin the work of regeneration. Adequate rest should be coupled with asana and Pranayama, a short walk each day and moderate lifestyle.

Asanas are vitally important, but should never be practiced beyond capacity. The heart must never be strained, and at the slightest sign of distress or pain the practice of relaxation should supervene.

Asanas for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Begin with pawanmuktasana. It should be practiced each morning, after a bath which should be cold in summer but warm in winter. If pawanmuktasan proves too hard, it should be omitted. Shavasan (corpse-pose) should be practiced whenever tiredness supervenes, and there should never be any hurry to finish the practice. Yoga should be a source of rest, relief and relaxation which will gradually spill over and transform the whole life. These Asanas should continue daily for two months. Then shakti bandha asan, if possible can be introduced and the following major asans are recommended: vajrasan, shashankasan (relaxing for several minutes), sarpasan, yoga mudra, bhunamanasan.

Pranayama for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Pranayama is very important both in the initial recovery of heart patient and in the subsequent rehabilitation and rejuvenation period. Pranayama should never impose a strain on the heart and lungs. If it does, then its purpose has been defeated. It should be soothing to the anxious mind, relaxing to the excited nerves and stabilizing to the irregular heart and circulation. The most important practices are nadi shodhana techniques and ujjayi pranayama. Breath should be only slighter deeper than normal, without retention, either internal or external. It should be as natural and as quiet as possible, and the awareness should follow the inflowing and outflowing breath very closely. Watching the breath is watching the mind and great relief from tension and anxiety will be experienced immediately. Cardiac function improves and mental stability develops week by week. The heart benefits greatly from the more efficient oxygenation process and damaged tissues are rapidly repaired. Ten rounds of nadi shodhana and ten rounds of ujjayi Pranayama are recommended.

Yoga Nidra or Relaxation for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Relaxation should be practiced at regular intervals during the asana program. shavasana or matasyasana can be adopted. The full practice of yoga nidra should be followed once a day.

Meditation for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Meditation should be learned not as a discipline but as an enjoyable pastime for the cardiac patient. Especially while confined to bed in the initial phase of recovery, and later on during rehabilitation, it is most useful as a means of becoming aware of the physical, mental and emotional tensions which have wrought such havoc upon the cardiovascular system. The most suitable practices are ajapa japa using the mantra SOHAM, and antar mouna (inner silence). These practices bring detachment from the mental processes, fears and imaginations which are the root cause of mental agitation and tensions.

Shatkarma for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Jala neti is an excellent practice for the heart patient. It can be learned and practiced even while still confined to bed, and should be adopted every morning. Kunjal and laghoo shankhaprakshalana should not be adopted by the heart patient, at least for many months, as they impose a strain on the heart.

Karma Yoga for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Selfless service, where one works with all attention, care and creativity, but without regard to the returns, rewards or profits of this work can be successfully adopted during recovery from a cardiac illness.

Lifestyle changes for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Heart attack and cardiac strain occur most frequently in people who have a very rajasic, active or competitive temperament. Businessmen who become obsessively involved in their work are prime candidates for heart attack, for they neglect to take time off for relaxing pastime in their lifestyle, becoming totally dedicated to their job.

Many people have lost the ability to really relax and have replaced it with a concept of relaxation which is usually comprised of stimulating habits such as smoking, drinking and social activities which excite and exhaust rather than relax the cardio vascular system. Skipping sleep and overeating further tire out the heart, circulatory and nervous system.

It is an important part of recuperation that the patient be isolated completely from work worries and stays, if possible, in an environment which is natural and restful. This is often the first holiday such people have allowed themselves in many, many years. There they can be introduced to some new interests which are creative, relaxing and non-competitive, more in tune with natural cycles and processes. For example, simple manual work such as carpentry is often a revelation and a great joy to a person who has previously used his hands only to sign cheques! Similarly, simple gardening where the rate of return on investment depends not on economic conditions but on the blessing and abundance of the earth, can often help an anxious, ambitious person to relax and accept a pace of life more in harmony with nature.

Swadhyaya for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Study of various scriptures and inspiring lives of saints who have devoted themselves to the realization and service of the highest truth, rather than to the acquisition of material and emotional possessions, is often a revelation to the heart patient, setting an example for a whole new dimension of stress-free living.

Bhakti yoga for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

The channeling of emotional energy away from personal objectives, desires and attachments towards the universal Self or God can also bring relief to the cardiac patient. Chanting, kirtan and other kinds of singing can also be very relaxing for people whose emotions are often deeply entangled in a mesh of attachments. Release of personal emotional entanglement often provides immense relief and paves the way for full recovery.

Diet for Heart and Circulatory Diseases:

Diet should be light, avoiding meat, excessive protein, milk and dairy products, oil and excessive spices. These should be replaced by whole grains, fruits and fresh vegetables. This will reduce obesity which imposes constant, excessive strain on the heart. Meal times should be regular and avoidance of eating between meals should be a rule of life. Overeating must be avoided, as it undoubtedly strains the heart. The evening meal should be taken before 7 p.m. These rules ensure that the digestive organs are not continually overtaxed, and liberate energy from digestion into healing.

It is important that the heart patient avoid constipation, as this leads to pranic blockage in the digestive tract. Excessive straining at stool is also stressful for the heart and for this reason, only a light semi-liquid diet is recommended following a cardiac crisis. Diet can be gradually normalized as cardiac function is restored, but oils and fats and dairy products should be resumed cautiously. Smoking should be discontinued.

Acupressure for Heart and Circulatory Diseases

It’s a proven traditional method of Chinese medicine for centuries. What I love about Acupressure for Heart and Circulatory Diseases is that it cures the root of the problem, and not just treat the symptoms like so many of the modern medicine nowadays do. If you get the flu, the antibiotics get rid of the flu, but they don’t boost your immune system to help you counter the next flu virus that comes around. Acupressure for Heart and Circulatory Diseases serves to get to the cause of what’s affecting you daily.

Unlike acupuncture for Heart and Circulatory Diseases, acupressure for Heart and Circulatory Diseases doesn’t require needles to be penetrated into the skin. Acupressure for Heart and Circulatory Diseases uses massaging techniques to stimulate energy flow between the meridian points of the body.

What is Acupressure? How to do Acupressure? what are meridian/ acupressure points? where are meridian/ acupressure points located in our body? how meridian/ acupressure points are responsible for flow of energy in our body? how we can utilize meridian/ acupressure points to cure any problem in our body?

Click Here to know the answers to all the questions above and also learn the simple self therapy acupressure techniques from the masters to heal yourself naturally and permanently.

2 Comments

  1. Leandro

    October 6, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Keep on working, great job!

  2. starfall

    March 14, 2017 at 7:51 am

    This is a wonderful post. I enjoyed the information lot. I will bookmark this page. Thanks for sharing this information.

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