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Finding Heart Coherence Through Yoga

“Positive thoughts and feelings add energy to our system. An optimistic perspective, a feeling of appreciation, or a gesture of kindness, for example, are energy assets.” - Doc Childre

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Blooming Hearts

This month at Soul Sanctuary, we’re harmonising the mind, body, soul and breath by connecting with the heart and honouring it as the epicentre of health and wellbeing.  

The heart is responsible for physical and emotional balance. By connecting with, opening up and challenging this pivotal hub within the body, we unlock the possibility for bliss and harmony. 

Heart and Brain Communication

Most of us have experienced that instinctive feeling during which our head and heart have their own desires. Sometimes our head and heart want the same thing and sometimes they are in conflict. If you’ve experienced this connection before, then perhaps you’ll also recall the feelings that arise when the head and heart communicate. If the head and heart aren’t in sync, we can feel conflicted and lost. However, when the head and heart communicate well, we are in a state of harmony, bliss and flow.

What is Heart Coherence? 

Heart coherence is a state of balance between the brain and heart. The state occurs when our breath, heart rhythm, brain rhythm and hormonal response are all running in sync with each other. This relationship was discovered and has been extensively researched since the early 1990’s by the HeartMath Institute who identified an idealistic state that occurs within the physical and mental body when these four systems become synchronised, creating balance and harmony. 

The studies also showed that this heart coherence can be controlled and self-generated through establishing a connection between the brain and heart. This harmonic relationship influences both our mental and emotional state. 

What Happens When the Heart and Brain are in Sync?

Heart Coherence is a highly functional state that occurs within the mind, body, soul and breath. When we are in this cohesive state, the body can function, process, heal and move at an optimal level. 

 

8 Benefits of a (scientifically) Happy Heart

Greater emotional intelligence.

Stable mental health.

Better physical health through improved immune function.

A decrease in stress hormones.

Enhanced creativity.

Overall Improved heart health.

An increase in energy levels.

Peace and harmony.

Heart coherence
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Achieving Heart and Brain Coherence Through Yoga 

If we take our minds to the Yoga Sutra 1.2, we can remind ourselves of ‘citta vrtti nirodhah’ - which is most commonly translated to ‘Yoga is the stilling or controlling of the fluctuations of the mind.’. When we think of the practice of yoga being a ‘conscious control’ over our mind, body, soul and breath, we can view this harmonic state as the same harmony we achieve during heart cohesion. Heart coherence is essentially a state of balance within the physical and emotional body, just like yoga. When we connect our body and breath, we aim to gain control over the fluctuations of our body, just like we gain control over the fluctuations of the heart during a state of heart coherence.

The research by HeartMath suggests that our pattern of breath, physical movement and thoughts and feelings all impact heart rate fluctuations and variability. These are the patterns we also aim to control within our yoga practice. 

In fact, we can link heart coherence to the Yamas and Niyamas. We seek to live according to this set of ethical principles that guide our journey to a state of balance, the harmony that this creates mirrors the harmony we seek to create mentally to achieve a coherent heart.  

Breathwork and Heart Coherence

When feelings of anxiety and stress take over, we’re told to take slow and deep breaths in order to calm down and regulate our nervous system. This often works and due to the fact that controlled breathing helps to achieve heart coherence. 

“Because breathing patterns modulate the heart’s rhythm, it is possible to generate a coherent heart rhythm simply by breathing slowly and regularly at a 10-second rhythm, (5 seconds on the in-breath and 5 seconds on the out-breath).” - The HeartMath Institute

Controlled breathing during meditation, breath work or asana practice can be a helpful tool to incorporate the benefits of heart coherence into your daily life. Controlled breath requires practice and emotional effort, so incorporating pranayama into your routine can make it easier to maintain heart coherence over time. 

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This month is all about encouraging you to achieve balance by connection the heart with the rest of the body. 

In our first week, we have a blissfully opening full wheel flow for you to enjoy. We encourage you to bring a sense of kindness and understanding to this practice and to be guided by your intuition with your movements.

During the second week, we have a 30-minute practice with our beautiful guest teacher Lena! The deep and stretchy flow will take us on a 360 degree journey around the mat.  

During this week, we’ll also establish a deeper connection with the heart through a guided meditation with our gorgeous guest teacher, Caroline. 

In our third week, we’ll be taking a Ripples of Love mandala sequence. This flow looks at love as an action. To give, to receive and to bask in - we ask ourselves what can we do to be more present with these feelings.

In our final week, we honour our heart as the centre of our physical and mental bodies, as we move through a heart informed flow. We’ll also be exploring the beautiful heart opening pose - Ustrasana (camel) through a movement breakdown practice.

As always, we have our suggested Soul Sanctuary flows from the back catalogue, (in black), that align with this month's theme, mapped out below in our printable calendar. The month’s new practices are highlighted in terracotta. You can also find these additional practices in the calendar function on our beautiful app or search for them on the membership on the website via desktop.

And don’t forget - you can flow along with our monthly playlist HERE.

We can’t wait to seek a coherent heart with you xx

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