Yoga for Heart Health

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For thousands of years, people have practiced yoga for its mind-body benefits. The poses were originally intended to quiet the mind through breathing, and although that is still the goal, there are several additional benefits to practicing. Building strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and mental clarity are just a few ways you can improve your overall health with yoga. As you focus on heart health this February, and throughout the year, yoga is a practice you should consider incorporating into your daily routine.

Kris Knox, yoga instructor at PMAC in Waxhaw, practices Vinyasa yoga, which means movement between poses while regulating breath. After practicing on her own for a few years, Knox decided to get certified to instruct others in this style. “At 45, I am stronger than I’ve ever been. I use the techniques of breathing throughout the day to remain in control and feel good.” Now a Registered Yoga Teacher, she enjoys helping others feel good too.

“You don’t need any equipment, other than your body, to practice yoga. In the morning, or before bed, you can incorporate a few simple stretches or poses to begin. Then set aside one or two days a week to go to a class or watch a video.” Knox said. Some basic positions include downward-facing dog, cat-cow, spinal twist, and seated forward fold. Head stand poses and other inversions, are extremely beneficial for circulation and anti-aging.

According to Knox, “Every practice is individual. Touching your toes doesn’t matter. You do not have to be flexible. Just start wherever you are. You will find success with little advancements.” There are other misconceptions about yoga that might keep people from trying it such as, “it’s only for women, it’s not challenging enough, and you have to have a certain body type to practice.”

Knox’s advice for first timers, is to give it a try. She recommends taking more than one class before you throw in the towel. “It takes time to figure out the names of the poses and where to put your hands and feet. Give it three or four attempts or try different instructors to see if it will work for you.”

Yoga class at PMAC in Waxhaw

For those that want to take their practice to the next level, it’s all about the breathing. It’s not about being able to get into crazy poses, although that will happen naturally with continued practice, it’s more about keeping your breath steady and smooth when moving faster between poses. You can easily get your heart rate up by speeding up your practice.

Everyone comes to the mat for different reasons. Some focus on strength, others focus on staying present. Everyone leaves feeling a little calmer, at the very least, in hopes of carrying that feeling throughout the rest of their day. You get out of yoga, what you put into it.

If you are interested in trying a free class with Knox at PMAC, she teaches Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 8:30-9:45. After that, each class is $10.00 or you can buy a package of ten classes for $70.00, a fantastic deal! Residents in Millbridge can also take her classes on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. or Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the clubhouse. Additionally, Knox instructs at Blakeney Racquet and Swim Club on Tuesdays at 7:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m.

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Laura Harlick
Laura Harlick is a freelance writer who resides in Waxhaw with her husband Pete, and two daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth. She enjoys writing about people and events in her community, health and fitness, relationships, children, and travel. Prior to writing, Laura taught elementary school in New York, California, and North Carolina. When she’s not blogging or writing articles for TriW, Laura appreciates family time, yoga, reading, and decorating.