Heart Disease and Women
By Nancy Weshkoff
Heart health is something I take very seriously. And while it is important to focus on heart health year round, the month of February is Heart Health Month and part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement. I am therefore writing this blog to discuss this very important topic.
Let’s begin with these key factors about heart disease in women:
–Heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in the United States.
–If you stacked up ALL cancer-related deaths for women together (breast, lung, ovarian, liver, skin cancer, etc), all of these cancer-related deaths together would still be number two behind heart disease.
– One in three women in the United States will die every year from heart disease. If you were sitting in a group of women and looked to your right and to your left, sadly one of you will die from heart disease. And of this number, more than 1,800 of these women who die from heart disease will live here on Long Island in New York.
-If you have heart disease, you are at a higher risk of contracting COVID or having serious complications related to COVID. With the spread of coronavirus, it is even more important to pay attention to your heart health.
– Did you know that you can help PREVENT yourself from becoming one of these very sad statistics by proactively taking steps to lower your risk?
While there are some things that you cannot change, such as your family history of heart disease, there are several things that doctors all agree that you CAN do to lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These include:
– Engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis. Sitting on a couch and not moving is bad for you in so many ways. Spending long hours in front of a computer screen without moving is not good for you. Your body needs to move. Yoga is extremely helpful in helping you with your fitness goals. The postures in a yoga class will build strength and flexibility, stretch your muscles, and at the same time, the deep breathing techniques (pranayama) used in a yoga class increase the flow of blood to your heart and your organs.
– Reduce your stress levels. This can be particularly challenging in this coronavirus period where we might find ourselves multi-tasking. It makes it even more important to notice how you cope with stress. Being in a “fight or flight” mode, which is how our body reacts when our stress levels are high, is putting a huge strain on your body functions – including your heart. Meditation is a wonderful tool to help you lower your blood pressure and stress levels. Yoga classes also help you reduce your stress. The online yoga and meditation classes at Moonflower Yoga can get you on the path to accomplishing your stress-reduction goals. Perhaps you do not have a lot of spare time right now with multi-tasking due to the pandemic. I would suggest that it is so important to take even 30 minutes FOR YOU which helps lower those stress levels and enables you to better cope with life’s challenges. Moonflower Yoga currently has great online yoga and meditation classes which you can do from the comfort of your home to help you lower stress and help your heart health. The Schedule tab on the moonfloweryoga.com website lists the daily options taught by our great yoga and meditation teachers.
– Learn to be “in the present moment”. We often worry unnecessarily about things from our past that we cannot change or things in the future that MIGHT happen but have not happened yet and may never happen. In our classes and workshops at Moonflower Yoga, we teach you ways to be more in the present moment and let go of unnecessary worries bringing you more peace and calm.
– Lower your blood pressure: Moving more, decreasing your stress levels, and using tools such as meditation and yoga mentioned above can all help you with this. How about learning something new? Spending some time reading a great book or engaging in a fun activity can help lower your stress levels. We have several great online activities that you can do from home including two fun “Clubs”. In the Moonflower Yoga Book Club, we have fun going on a journey with a new book which helps you discover something new. There is also the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group where you crochet or knit (very meditative!) while enjoying each other’s company. With the Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts Group, we also donate some of our beautiful creations to various charities. And there are great yoga workshops, as well as crafting workshops where we make beautiful jewelry. We have online meditation classes, as well as regular guided meditation workshops. There is also a monthly online yoga nidra evening, which is deep relaxation “yogic sleep”, a wonderful way to de-stress. One hour of yoga nidra = four hours of sleep! These types of interesting and meditative activities can help you on the path of stress reduction, lowering your blood pressure, and having fun – all great things for your heart.
– Fighting loneliness: In this coronavirus period, it is very important to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. But social distancing often creates loneliness. We need social interaction. Online yoga, meditation, and other activities via Zoom are a great way to combat loneliness and help you feel better. Before and after each online class, there is a Zoom Room where you can safely see and chat with fellow attendees, have a laugh, or share a story. It makes a big difference to have this social interaction and help you feel better, thereby reducing your stress levels.
-Are you eating a healthy diet, or are you eating fast food or other unhealthy foods that are high in fat and cholesterol? Eating unhealthy foods can clog your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. One fun, new online activity that we offer at Moonflower Yoga is a monthly “In the Kitchen with Bob” cooking workshop where we connect online via Zoom, and we cook healthy meals together during the workshop and then enjoy the finished product at the end of the workshop. These delicious recipes are plant-based, low in fat, and heart healthy. And we have a lot of laughs cooking together – a great stress reducer.
As someone who has a history of heart disease in my family, I take heart disease very seriously. My stress levels and blood pressure were very high – all red flags for being on the path to a heart attack or stroke. Through yoga, meditation, learning to be more in the present moment, and spending time in engaging activities such as reading and needle arts, I have been able to lower my blood pressure to normal. You, too, can lower your risk. We hope to see you soon at a great online yoga class, meditation, or workshop at Moonflower Yoga. With online yoga and meditation classes offered via Zoom, there is also no longer a geographic limit to Bellmore, Wantagh, Merrick, East Meadow, Freeport, Seaford, Massapequa, or other towns in Nassau County, Long Island. We now have students joining us from states other than New York including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. It is great to connect with new people! All are welcome!
Please take care of yourself and reduce your risk of heart disease, or the risk of heart disease for a special woman in your life. I hope we will see you soon for a great online yoga class, meditation, or other activity as you take positive steps to lowering the risk for heart disease!
by Nancy Weshkoff
I wrote this blog previously during Thanksgiving week The sentiments expressed in the blog are still true, and I encourage all of you to take a moment to count the blessings in your life. Doing so can help you realize how amazing each day that we spend on this earth can be. Here is the blog, and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am taking a moment to pause & think deeply about the holiday. If you look at the media blitz around us, you would assume Thanksgiving is about shopping for items you probably don’t need at discount prices. Stores are opening earlier and earlier, and this often means families spend less time together as they rush to get to the mall. What happened to this wonderful holiday with its family traditions?
Instead of the craziness of shopping, I am instead listing a few things in my life for which I am very grateful:
I am grateful for the many students who walk in the doors of Moonflower Yoga to attend a yoga class. It is such a blessing to have them at the studio each week, getting stronger, feeling better, and sharing a part of their lives at Moonflower Yoga. I love meeting each person as they walk in the door and catching up with them each week. Thank you to all of you who have made Moonflower Yoga a success.
It was 6 years ago this month that my life changed forever with the news that my job in corporate America was coming to an end with a forced layoff. Although that news was devastating at the time, it gave me the opportunity to try something new that I always wanted to do. Moonflower Yoga was born as a result of that, and I am grateful that my life changed for the better. As Gandhi very wisely said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
Making a life change would have been very challenging if it wasn’t for the support of my husband, Bob, who has been my rock for the last 40+ years. Bob, together with friends and family, supported me and Moonflower Yoga, and I am very grateful for their love and support. And Bob’s delicious, homemade desserts at our workshops, events, and Moonflower Yoga Book Club & Moonflower Yoga Needle Arts meetings bring a smile to everyone’s face. And now Bob is offering his own vegan and gluten-free cooking workshops at Moonflower Yoga.
Moonflower Yoga has great yoga teachers who work alongside of me each week and bring their love of teaching and helping people to Moonflower Yoga each week. I could not run the studio without them. And there have been wonderful workshop presenters as well, who have taught us some very interesting things that we didn’t know before and helped us learn something new. We now have Reiki training at Moonflower Yoga taught by Connie helping to bring healing to people, as well as IET/Angel healing training taught by Chris. I am grateful to all of the great instructors and workshop presenters for making Moonflower Yoga a special place.
I am grateful to my hometown of Bellmore, Long Island, in New York’s Nassau County. I have been welcomed in the town, and it has been awesome to establish my business roots here as well as my home roots.
I am grateful to my yoga teachers who helped me discover the wonders of yoga many years ago. Yoga has been my rock when things were stressful, and now it has become my life. It all started with attending my first yoga class, and it grew from there. Yoga can help you too!
What are you grateful for this holiday season? Take a moment to reflect on the blessings in your life. You will feel inspired! Have a wonderful holiday.