Health & Wellness

Published on Thu, Jan 29, 2009
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Health & Wellness

Class teaches health, living from the heart

By Tara Nelson

For a culture so obsessed with physical health, dieting and weight loss it might seem surprising such little attention is paid to emotional, mental and even spiritual well-being.

Fortunately, there are simple non-intrusive ways that can offer a platform for emotional health. One of those is heart rhythm meditation, a type of meditation that uses biofeedback techniques such as monitoring one’s own heart rate and being aware of breathing, to create both physical health and a general sense of wellbeing.

Maureen Kelly, of Sage Butterfly Studios in Birch Bay, offers such classes occasionally through her Birch Bay yoga and Zumba dance studio on Birch Bay Drive. Her next heart rhythm class is scheduled for February 7.

Although the practice might sound a bit esoteric, Kelly said the physiological effects are very real.

When individuals are conscious of their breathing, they naturally become more aware and are more able to be calm and focused, which naturally leads to slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure.

Meditation from a physical perspective slows the heart rate, which, in turn, lowers your blood pressure, while the deep breathing oxygenates the blood and helps individuals sleep better, which can lead to more well-being, creativity and optimism.

Kelly said the difference between conventional meditation and heart rhythm meditation is that the latter links the breath with the heartbeat to bring those bodily rhythms into entrainment.

The practice, she said, still harnesses the same benefits of meditation but by focusing on physical elements, it becomes more accessible and practical.

“Other forms of meditation are what they call upward meditation, meaning you sort of transcend the physical body, in what is almost a form of escapism,” Kelly said. “In heart meditation, it’s a downward meditation, meaning we take that universal enlightenment and bring it down into our hearts.”

During the exercise, participants are invited to take a virtual reality trip to explore the heart’s different dimensions.

Kelly said the width of the heart represents stability, depth represents empathy, height represents optimism and the forward dimension represents courage. The inner dimension, which is a balance of all of these, represents peace, she said.

“Depending on your personality type and different challenges you might be going through in your life, the heart can become distorted because you may rely on certain dimensions too heavily,” she said. “In order to find balance, the workshop helps you identify areas you might want to work on and to breath into and strengthen.”

“From a spiritual perspective, it brings about a feeling of connection to all life, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

“It’s like water lilies, when you see water lilies on top of a pond, they look separate, but if you go underneath they’re all connected, and I think that’s such a beautiful metaphor because if you think about it, we’re all individuals but we’re also connected.”

Kelly’s next heart rhythm meditation class is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, February 7.

Sage Butterfly Studios is located at 4880 Beachcomber Way #G04 in Birch Bay and can be reached by calling 920-1125.

Kelly also offers traditional Vinyasa yoga, belly dancing, qui gong, and Zumba, or fast-paced dance classes with intense Latin rhythms.

Class drop in fees are $12, $40 for four classes or $68 for eight classes.
Unlimited monthly passes and individual consultations and classes are also available.

For more information about Sage Butterfly Studios, visit www.sagebutterfly.com. For more reading on heart rhythm mediation, visit www.Iamheart.org.