The ancient practice of meditation can do more than just relax the mind. Recent studies have revealed that meditation can positively impact heart health by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Mindfulness and meditation can benefit overall health, including heart health. The age-old practice uses quiet contemplation, breathing and sustained focus to help let go of stress and feel more calm and peaceful. It can be thought of as a mini-vacation from stress in life.
Psychological stress increases the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. This causes a release of harmful hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These harmful hormones fasten the heart rate, increase cardiac output and narrow the arteries. As meditation induces deep relaxation in the mind and body, the stress subsides, and stability is restored.
How to Make Meditation a Habit?
Once people understand the basics of the practice, the next challenge is making it a habit. Like every other lifestyle change, it takes time to incorporate meditation into everyday life and build it into a routine. Here are some tips:
Set a daily alarm on the phone or block out time on a digital calendar
Try an app that reminds it's time to meditate and then record the length of the session
Start by practising a few minutes every day and increase the time in small amounts until the goal is reached
Meditation to Connect with the Heart's Energy
Here are some simple steps to connect with the heart's Energy:
Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
Let go of any thoughts and the world outside.
Focus the attention on the spiritual heart centre (the middle of the chest) and be aware of the heart as a space.
Resting the attention on the heart centre, breathe gently and sense the breath flowing into the heart. One may also visualise a coolness permeating the chest.
Breathe normally and steadily.
For the next few minutes, sit and listen to the heart. The heart will gradually begin to release emotions, wishes, memories, dreams and fears long stored inside. If the mind wanders, gently return to the focus on the heart.
Upon completing the meditation practice, take a few moments to reflect on the practice.
Why Meditation can be Useful for Heart Health?
Several studies have shown that meditation can lower stress levels, reduce cortisol levels and improve heart health. Meditation can activate the "rest-and-digest" functions of the body, which counteracts the "flight-or-fight" responses. With daily meditation practice, people can lower their heart rate and blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Here's a look into what different studies have to say about meditation and heart health.
Researchers in 2013 at the University of Sydney found that meditation can improve HRV. It is a significant marker of mental and physical health. After spending ten intensive days learning how to meditate, meditation drastically improved the heart's responsiveness.
In 2021, the American Journal of Biomedical Science and Research published a report on meditation's effect on heart rate. It revealed that with time, meditation helps the heart to beat slower and become more consistent. This indicates that meditation may be effective in preventing heart diseases.
The International Journal of Exercise Science published a study in 2017 on the effect of meditation on stressed college students. Throughout the 6-week-meditation programme, blood pressure and pulse decreased significantly.
It takes time to learn meditation and gain confidence, as with any new endeavour. The important thing is to practice every day, even if only for a few minutes. Meditation, no matter how brief, is always preferable to doing nothing. A schedule can also be used to establish a routine. In addition, every day, one should try to practice meditation. Daily practice can have enormous benefits not only for the heart, but also for the mind, body, and soul. (Dr. Deepak Mittal, Founder, Divine Soul Yoga)
Read More► 7 Indoor Exercises to Keep You Fit During Monsoon
Despite the fact that many adults worldwide are living longer, they may not always be doing so in a healthier way. They are unable to enjoy their complete lives as a result. This chart of less-than-optimal health is caused by a number of circumstances. Nutrition, or lack thereof, is one of the most important and evident variables. After all, eating provides energy to all of the body's cells and helps maintain muscular power.
It seems simple enough to optimise your diet in order to improve your health. Make sure your meals are balanced by using a colourful plate that includes all the necessary dietary groups. But an unexpected fact is that adult malnutrition has only recently come to light as a frequently unrecognised health issue affecting many individuals.
A common misconception is that malnutrition means a person isn't getting enough calories. But malnutrition can be more than a deficiency in nutrient intake: it can also refer to nutrient excesses or vitamin or mineral imbalances.
"Today, a lot of people in India come under the category of being 'skinny fat' - a term that refers to having a relatively high percentage of body fat and a low amount of muscle mass. It occurs when the body doesn't get the appropriate amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) or micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that it needs, to function," says Prof. Dr. Salil Bendre, Head, Pulmonary Medicine, Nanavati Max SuperSpeciality Hospital.
As we become older, muscle mass becomes more crucial for maintaining our general immune defence as well as bodily strength and mobility. However, studies have indicated that adults might begin to lose up to 8% of their muscle mass per decade from the age of 40. That rate might double after the age of 70. This makes it more clear why building muscle is important and why nutrition must come first.
How To Avoid Muscle Loss & Protect Muscle Health
Safeguarding muscle mass can be done with a few simple strategies mainly focusing on physical activity and proper nutrition. This is especially important as we age.
To Preserve Muscles
Engage in regular exercise & test your muscle age: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week and include resistance training to also help maintain muscles and strength. You can test your locomotive ability and find out how good your muscle strength is & know what to do earlier to help prevent and delay muscle loss & overall strength.
The good news is that grip strength is an easy way to assess your overall muscular strength - just by squeezing an orange or noticing the firmness of your handshake you can determine your muscle strength. A chair challenge test is also an easy way to test your muscle strength. The time taken to do 5 sit ups on a chair of approx. height of 43cm [1.4ft] in height can tell you about your muscle age.
Consume enough micronutrients: Not only reduced intake of proteins but also micronutrients like selenium, carotenoid, vitamin C, E, calcium, vitamin D etc have been associated with lower muscle strength. Currently, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 don't get enough protein in their diet, that is problematic because protein is a nutrient that supports strong muscles and helps keep cells healthy, fuelled and working at their best, which is important to keeping energy levels up. To amp up protein intake further, add in protein snacks, like one before bed or supplement your diet with nutrition supplements, if needed.
Follow a nutrition-forward diet: Choose a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, healthy fats and key vitamins and minerals like calcium and Vitamin D. The key is to choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups. Developing healthy eating patterns not only give you energy, they can also help prevent obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. (Prof. Dr. Salil Bendre, Head, Pulmonary Medicine)
Read More► From The Couch to Getting Fit
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start a fitness programme. When you transition from couches to crunches, you feel revitalised and exhilarated.
Physical activity improves brain health and lowers the risk of chronic diseases; it improves balance and coordination, strengthens bones and muscles, helps with weight management, and improves sleep quality and the ability to perform daily tasks.
Going straight for the bench press on day one will be contrary to your expectation of instant six-pack abs and may lead to an injury. If you are considering starting exercising but, don't know where to begin, identify your level of fitness to know where to start and what to do at first.
Here's a guide to help you start a routine and stick to it for the best results without straining yourself:
Identify Your Fitness Level
First, determine your level of fitness. You should have a firm grasp on how to fit yourself. To track your progress, you must first assess and record your baseline fitness score to establish a baseline for yourself.
Record your pulse rate before and after walking one mile determine how long it takes you to walk or run a mile know how many push-ups you can do and measure your waist circumference and BMI.
Before beginning an exercise routine, you should consult a fitness expert and have a physical medical examination. Identifying your fitness level is especially important for beginners who are new to strenuous physical activities because it can detect any health issues or conditions that may put you at risk.
Design Your Fitness Program
Exercising every day needs a plan that includes attainable steps and goals. Create a balanced routine and start with easy steps to follow, and then you can continue to raise the bar as your fitness levels improve. For instance, if your goal is to do a 5-kilometre run, start by building a plan that includes shorter runs. Slowly as you will climb up the ladders, build activities into your daily routine, try high-interval intensity training and allow time for recovery.
Stick To It
Replacing unhealthy behaviour with new healthier habits is an excellent approach to achieving your fitness goals. Therefore, stick to your exercise routine. Develop a habit and do it regularly. Make a schedule and exercise at the same time every day. As per the experts, one should exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Start slowly and let your body rest from time to time and choose a time that works best for you.
Eat Healthily And Stay Hydrated
Eat a healthy and balanced diet to boost your fitness programme. While carbs can fuel your muscles, replenish glycogen stores after exercise and assist with the absorption of amino acids into your muscles during recovery, proteins help improve muscle recovery, repair tissue damage and build muscle mass.
In addition to this, consuming healthy fats help burn body fat and preserve muscle fuel during workouts, making your energy last longer. It is equally important to stay hydrated throughout the day for optimal performance. It also helps you recover and gets you ready for your next training session.
Monitor Your Progress
Conduct a personal fitness assessment every two months. You will come to know about a lot of things such as the need to increase exercise time to continue improving, or maybe you will find that you're exercising enough to meet your fitness goals.
Remember that starting an exercise is an important decision. It can change your life and provide you with a sense of fulfilment. By planning it carefully and slowly achieving all your fitness goals you can establish a healthy habit that will lead to a healthy body and mind. (Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist and Co-Founder of Food Darzee)
Read More► 7 Indoor Exercises to Keep You Fit During Monsoon
One of the best times of year to witness nature's full splendor is during the monsoon. However, monsoons are notorious for their never-ending spells of sickness and cold. One's immune system is tested though the entire season.
And it doesn't stop there. There is always the possibility of contracting cholera, dengue fever, or other distressing ailments. So, how can one enjoy the monsoons as they should be while being safe and healthy? Good eating habits, exercise, and adequate rest are a few factors that can keep you safe during the rainy season.
It doesn't end there. There is always the risk of contracting cholera, dengue fever, or other dreadful diseases. So, how can one truly enjoy the monsoons while remaining safe and healthy? Yoga and nutrition expert Garima Goyal recommends doing a workout session of 60 minutes a day to help you stay active and fit during the season. Garima further shares simple yoga exercises to help build strength, agility, meditation, relaxation, and focus.
Padangusth Asana (Big Toe)
Padangusth Asana is a foundational asana in Ashtanga Yoga. It is a basic standing position that incorporates forward bending. The asana is classified as beginning due to its easiness. Padangusthasana stretches every muscle in the body from head to toe. It relaxes the body and soothes discomfort. It is beneficial for flat feet, among other things. Padangusthasana is an excellent place to begin your yoga experience.
Trikon Asana (Triangle Pose)
Trikon Asana is derived from the Sanskrit terms 'Trikona' (three corners) and 'Asana' (posture). In trikonasana yoga, the practitioner spreads their legs apart without bending their knees, with their hands extended apart, producing a 90-degree angle between the upper and lower bodies.
Trikon Asana yoga, also known as Triangle position exercise, is a standing posture that improves strength, balance, and flexibility. There are several variants in the trikonasana stages or processes. In general, it is divided into three types: Baddha Trikonasana, Parivrtta Trikonasana, and Utthita Trikonasana.
Utkat Asana (Chair Pose)
Chair posture, also known as "awkward chair pose" and "fierce stance" in Sanskrit, is a form of asana or yoga practice. Begin in a standing stance and bend your knees to lower your body as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair. This standing forward bend is part of the Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga Sun Salutation routine.
Chair posture strengthens your legs, upper back, and shoulders while also improving balance and flexibility. The chair position is a standing yoga practice that works the core. This strong stance may help you strengthen your legs, back, and shoulders.
Bhujang Asana (Cobra Post)
Bhujang Asana is derived from the words bhujanga (cobra or snake) and asana (position). Cobra Stretch is another name for Bhujangasana. Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations Position) and Padma Sadhana incorporate this pose. Do you wish to tone your stomach but lack the time to go to the gym?
Are you exhausted or anxious as a result of an excessive workload? Bhujangasana, also known as Cobra Stretch, is a great way to cure these and other issues while sitting (or lying down) at home! Bhujangasana, also known as the Cobra Pose, is performed while laying on your stomach. It stretches your body (particularly your back) and rapidly melts your tension away!
Vriksh Asana (Tree Pose)
Vrks Asana is a Sanskrit noun that combines the terms Vriksha and Asana. The Sanskrit term for a tree is Vriksha, whereas the Sanskrit word for posture is Asana. As a result, this is known in English as Tree Pose. Vrikshasana is a standing fundamental yoga position. Furthermore, in Hinduism, Sages utilised this stance as a form of austerity or Tapasya. In a seventh-century CE rock temple in Mallapuram, a man performs a position akin to Vrikshasana. As a result, this is an old yoga stance.
Shishu Asana (Child Pose)
A child's pose, also known as balasana/shishuasana, is a beginner's position that aids in the relaxation of the mind and body. Balasana is derived from the Sanskrit words Bala, which means "young and childlike," and asana, which means "seat or sat pose." It is a vital resting posture that helps to quiet your senses. It is a fundamental yoga stance that teaches us that inactivity may be as helpful as action and doing. It's a chance to take a breather, assess your circumstances, and prepare to move on.
Tad Asana (Mountain Pose)
While Tad asana is one of the most fundamental yoga asanas, it is a challenge for all levels and delivers various physical and emotional advantages. Tadasana calms your body and mind, promoting inner tranquility. Maintaining alignment and body awareness is an ongoing effort.
Standing firm, stable, and focused in Mountain Pose helps to improve posture, alignment, and balance. This can help with other yoga positions as well as your regular activities. Keep your practice new by always thinking of ways to change the stance. (Agency)
Read More► Why Yoga and Walnuts Are Your Go-To Health Essentials
Amid hectic work schedules, tentative vacay plans, and the never-ending to-do list that's lingering on us, you'd agree that we are all doing the best we can to live the fullest and stay fit in our small but unique way. And days like, June 21, which is celebrated every year as International Yoga Day, act as a gentle reminder to embrace health and wellness.
According to the Ministry of AYUSH, yoga is key to improving flexibility, strength, balance, and attaining harmony. And its popularity across the globe is proof enough.
What is important to remember here, however, is the fact that this ancient practice alone can't help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Yoga and a nutritious, balanced diet go hand in hand, and eating the right foods ensure your body gets the essential nutrients it requires for optimal health - not just body but also minds.
"Adding a handful of walnuts to your daily diet can set you off to a great start and fuel your brain and body", shares Naaznin Husein, Nutritionist, Yoga Consultant, and founder of Freedom Wellness Management, "By a handful, approx. 28g of walnuts that contain 4g protein, 2g fiber, and 2.5g plant-based omega-3 ALA. All these beneficial nutrients are known to support the health of our heart, brain, and gut."
Did you know that California walnuts are produced under stringent quality controls that exceed California inspection standards, reputed to be the world's toughest? It's a long road from planting a walnut orchard to delivering fresh, delicious walnuts to our local markets. Not only this, these wonderful crunchy and mildly sweet wonder nuts, when added to our daily diet, can help in overall wellness, shows research:
Say Hello to A Healthy Heart: Loaded with good fats (plant-based omega-3 ALA), walnuts, as part of a nutritious and balanced diet, may decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. They help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, two of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Focus on Immunity: Walnuts are a good source of plant-based vitamin B, zinc, and selenium the trio that boasts of the potential to ensure normal functioning of our immune system as per FSSAI's Eat Right During Covid 19 guidelines.
Weight Maintenance: Most of us exercise to lose weight and get into the perfect shape. While walnuts may not make you shed those extra calories, they sure help along the way. Research shows walnuts' potential role in influencing appetite hormones that make you feel full for longer. Which, in turn, avoids unnecessary cravings.
Reduce The Risk of Diabetes: One of India's most common and concerning diseases is diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. It has been discovered that walnuts, as part of a healthy diet, may help manage diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A study representing more than 34,000 American adults suggests those who consume walnuts may have about half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to adults who do not eat nuts.6
Here are some quick hacks Nutrition and Yoga expert, NaazninHusein recommends adding walnuts into the daily diet regime :
Blend it into your pre-workout/post-workout smoothie to keep yourself energized.
Toss it into your salad or trail mix to transform them into an omega-3-rich meal/snack.
Add them to your curries and tikkas, and you can say goodbye to the cream for good.
Coat your meat and seafood with chopped walnuts for that extra crunch and nutrition quotient.
Indulge in a handful of walnuts to fix your mid-meal hunger pangs. (N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe )
Read More► 8 Reasons Why You Need to Meditate Daily
Contrary to popular belief, Meditation is not about zoning out and emptying your thoughts or mind. It's about zoning inwards, acknowledging your thoughts, and then detaching from them without judgment.
The most common reactions I get when I talk about meditation are "I cannot meditate", "I cannot empty my mind", "as soon as I empty my mind a thousand thoughts enter my mind", "sitting for long hours hurts my back and hips" or "mediation makes me more anxious". Well, all of this can be true if you throw yourself into the deep end of mediation without any experience.
Start From The Basics
Preferably start by preparing your body through basic simple asanas (yoga stretches) and breathe through pranayama (breathing techniques). Find a place that is comfortable for you to meditate. Some people use a quiet space at home or in the office. You can meditate outside in nature as well.
Meditation Reduces Stress, Anxiety, And Negative Emotions
Meditation is a gift that you should dedicate to yourself every day. Use your breath to help de-stress and become more aware and present at the moment. Stress, anxiety, and negative emotions are unpredictable, they come and go as they please but through meditation, you can control the power they have over you and your mind.
Over time you will observe a transformation in the amount of stress/anxiety you accumulate within. Simply closing your eyes and steadily breathing has a tremendous effect, especially when you acknowledge stressful situations arising. Meditation is so powerful to reduce anxiety.
One of the main reasons people meditate is to help quiet a loud, overactive mind. Daily meditation might be able to help support the treatment and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is because meditation helps fight stress and anxiety, which are both major triggers for depression.
It Helps Increase Focus, Creativity, and Productivity
Want to feel more creative and productive at work? Start meditating now! Meditation can encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. Meditation also helps us separate our emotions from our work, which helps us think more clearly and develop new ideas. Daily meditation can help you perform better at work! It helps increase your focus and attention and improves your ability to multitask. Meditation helps clear our minds and helps us focus on the present moment - which gives you a huge productivity boost.
Boasts Emotional Intelligence
Unless you make the effort to observe your thoughts and attempt to understand what the mind is doing, you are never going to learn about your inner self. Many of us have trouble understanding our emotions. Meditation teaches us how to be more aware of our feelings and emotions and helps us process them better. Simply believing every thought that pops in your head and living under your mind's umbrella is not constructive. Practising meditation changes how you think and helps you learn to understand your emotions without having to act upon them.
A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control runaway thoughts that interfere with your sleep cycle. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase the quality of your sleep.
Helps Fight Addictions
Meditation develops mental awareness and can help you manage triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, manage unhealthy eating habits, and redirect other unwanted habits.
Regular meditation has been shown to help boost your immune system. It increases electrical activity in the left side of the brain which is responsible for your immune system. It was also found that those who meditate have higher counts of antibodies in their blood, which helps fight illness.
Get More Out of Your Workout
Exercise, especially HIIT workouts (High-intensity interval training) and long hours of cardio can do a number on your muscles and your central nervous system. Such workouts could unintentionally cause stress on the body and the mind and cause an increase in your cortisol levels in the body. Meditation allows you to deeply rest your body and mind removing stress from your physiology. With meditation's ability to reduce our stress levels, we're able to perform our workouts at an optimal level and at the same time meditation might also help minimize sensitivity to pain.
After reading all these amazing benefits, isn't mediation worth a try? (Celebrity meditation expert Samiksha Shetty shares benefits of meditation)
Read More► Exercise Key to Keep Muscles Healthy, Stay Young
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