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Ways to Celebrate Heart Health Month

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If you haven't noticed from the bone-chilling cold, remaining balance on your Visa statement or the lack of colour pigment on your skin we are in FEBRUARY. The forgotten month, where New Year's resolutions fall to the way side, people shutter at the thought of leaving the house and shun the Hallmark holiday that put this month on the map.

February, besides being sponsored by Cupid is also heart health month. The heart being one of the most important organs in the body requires you to have all forms of nutrition in check. Why not take this month as an excuse to give your heart a little love; emotionally, nutritionally and physically.

Emotional Heart Love:

Stress is considered one of the main contributors to illness. It is important to appreciate how other emotions can affect specific areas and organs of the body.

Hindu tradition focuses on chakras as energy centres in the body. These energy centres correlate physical illness in specific areas of the body and the emotions that are associated with these illnesses. The 4th of the chakras, heart chakra, is located in the middle of the chest. When traumas such as death or divorce happen and emotions of rejection, grief, or betrayal occur this can cause the heart chakra to become closed or out of balance. When the heart chakra is closed it will leave the individual feeling withdrawn, jealous and hard on themselves. If any of these emotions ring true to you or you have a heavy feeling on your heart, here are some small changes that you can do to reopen your heart chakra.

• Wear the colours green or pink
• Use the essential oil rose oil
• Visualize a green glowing light around your heart
• Give yourself a compliment: write down one reason a day why you love yourself and say it out loud in the mirror.
• Pay it forward: giving selfless love to someone else opens you up to receiving love into your life.
• Smile with your heart

Nutritional Heart Love:

Proper nutrition plays an integral role in maintaining optimal heart health. Lucky for us the heart loves a hefty serving of all of my favourite foods.
Salmon: when purchased from an organic and wild source will not only satisfy your taste buds but also fulfil your hearts need for low blood pressure. You can thank salmon's high content of omega 3 fatty acids for the extra loving.
Tomatoes: this heart shaped fruit contains the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene served on a combo platter with Vitamin C (which tomatoes are high in as well) aids in decreasing inflammation and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Kale: what kind of a nutritionist would I be if I didn't throw KALE into the mix? Kale being the nutrition power house that it is goes to work for our little tickers in many ways. Kale is high in fibre which will help remove the build up of plaque and toxins. This green leafy vegetable can also make your heart skip a beat with its high content of the phytonutrients lutein. Lutein has been found to lower the risk of heart disease. Kale=LOVE!

Physical Heart Love:

Show your heart that you love it by getting your sweat on. Daily exercise will aid in lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress on the heart, improve circulation and help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Looking for a heart approved sweat sesh? Focus on incorporating a yoga practice into your weekly routine. Poses such as camel and cobra will aid in opening up the heart, calming the mind and strengthen the body at the same time. Looking for something to really get your heart pumping? Try interval running. This involves alternating running at speeds that require 95 per cent of your maximum effort between periods of moderate to low (50-65 per cent) effort. Your heart will thank you.

As we approach Valentine's Day filled with hope that Cupid will sting us with his love arrow, lets shift the focus to loving ourselves first. February forces us to take stock of our heart. So eat a kale salad, go for a run, hold the door open for a stranger, smile because it's worth it. Lay in shavasana for an extra minute and be open to all of the ways love shows up in your life.

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