One of the most important focus areas for individuals is a healthy heart. All nations, races, sexes, and age groups, are now equally prone to heart related ailments across the world. This problem is more acute in areas where there is a genetic predisposition to heart problems; like the Indian subcontinent. It is estimated that over the next couple of decades, one in every three individuals will have some issue related to heart, by the time they reach their fifties.
Causes Of Cardiac Issues
The increasing cases of cardiac problems could be due to various reasons, and they are irrespective of the age, health, and the genetic predisposition of the individual. Some of them are:
- Exposure to pollution, whether environmental or noise.
- Adulterated or contaminated food. Everything we eat has chemicals, hormones and impurities, including the freshest of sea-food.
- Impure milk and milk products.
- Contaminated drinking water, since the treated water has excess amounts of unwanted elements and minerals, which cause damage.
- Increased levels of stress.
- Lack of sleep or other sleep related problems.
- Unhealthy lifestyle, which includes bad eating habits and lack of physical activity.
- Consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and drugs.
- Excessive usage of over-the-counter medicines, which in most cases is unnecessary.
How Sitting Position Impacts The Heart
Though most of the risk factors are familiar to us, we choose to ignore them. One such important factor impacting the cardiac health, is our sitting position. Sitting on the chair or sofa with your feet down, particularly, has a negative impact on your heart. Unfortunately, that is how we sit all the time, even at home!
Sitting in this position increases the work load on your heart; since, the heart has to practically increase its efforts by over sixty percent to pump the blood against gravity, and get it to circulate across the body. This continuous strain causes faster wear and tear of the heart muscles.
The Correct Sitting Positions
Sitting On The Floor
Now the question that arises is – what is the correct way to sit? The answer dates back to centuries and is given by the Yogis and Rishis, who say, sitting on the floor is the best position to sit. This way, the heart has decreased work to do, to pump the blood upwards.
Sitting With Legs Up On The Couch
If you cannot sit on the floor, then sit with your legs up on the couch or chair, in different positions. Sitting with your legs up, cuts out the effort of pulling blood from the waist upwards, because the body is folded closer to the heart. The distance to which the heart has to pump the blood against gravity is also reduced (the length of your legs, waist down, is more than the upper body). This in turn reduces fifty to sixty percent of the effort the heart makes.
Sitting With Legs Crossed
Sitting with your legs crossed over each other, or intertwined has further advantages. This locks the legs, and the blood requirement reduces dramatically to the lower limbs. You might feel pins and needles or numbness, initially, but eventually you get comfortable with the position. Shifting your legs every few minutes in different positions reduces the discomfort greatly.
The Other Benefits
- Sitting in this position uses up less energy than sitting on a chair or couch, and is better than lying down.
- Sitting and eating in this position creates a positive pressure on the digestive organs. The digestive ailments reduce drastically in a short span of time.
- It helps keep the spine supple, and maintains your balance. It is good for back aches and also reduces the load on the lower spine.
This ideal position in Yoga is called Sukhasana.
If you cannot sit cross legged, start making it a habit to sit with your legs up as much as you can, to keep your heart healthy.