Tag: health

Learn How to Do Yoga with Your Cat

Guest Post By: Payal Bhandari M.D.

Yoga is all about discovery and self-awareness while reducing stress and anxiety. What better way to do this than with your feline friend?

Cats are wonderful companions, and according to studies their purring has a therapeutic effect on humans. For instance, the risk of heart attacks is 40% lower in cat owners. Their calming effect helps to lower your blood pressure.

It is a different and wonderful experience to de-stress, breathe, and move together. Here are a few yoga poses you can do with your cat that will bring you closer together and enable you to communicate deeper. While doing these poses, be mindful of your cat’s needs. Don’t stress if your companion doesn’t want to sit still with you. It will get easier over time.

1. Breath Awareness

Start off with a gentle breath awareness exercise. This exercise will quiet and calm your nervous system, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve self-awareness.

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and the knees bent. Your feet should be hip-distance apart. Breathe comfortably while listening to your breath. Try to make your breathing as smooth and relaxed as possible with slight pauses between breathing in and out. Continue this for about 12 breaths.

Your cat is a natural at breath exercises, so listen to the breathing of your cat to guide you. Take these moments to let go of distractions and focus on your time together.

2. Warm Up

In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together while enfolding your cat with your legs. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your back. Look over your right shoulder behind you while keeping your shoulders down and your spine long. Repeat this on the other side. Next drop your chin towards your chest to release tension on your neck. For an added stretch you can interlace your hands behind your neck and let the weight of your arms give you a deeper stretch.

Let go of all tension and anxiety and focus on the calmness of your cat.

3. Warrior Pose

Stand with your legs 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot 90˚ out while turning your left foot slightly in. Bend your right knee 90˚ to come into a side lunge. Make sure your knee doesn’t extend over the ankle. Gaze over your right shoulder while holding your cat in your arms. Hold for a minute while feeling the strength you garner from each other. Repeat on the other side.

4. Downward Dog

Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers. Slowly press your hips towards the ceiling until your body resembles an inverted V. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this pose for three breaths.

5. Child’s Pose

Sit comfortably on your heels. Roll your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the floor, while lowering your chest as closely to your knees as possible. Extend your arms in front of you while enveloping your cat in your hands. Hold this pose for a few moments while you relax together.

Practicing yoga with your cat will give you the opportunity to share time and relax with a being that you love. Over time, you’ll feel more relaxed, and you’ll see a deeper relationship developing between you and your little friend.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a holistic family physician at her practice, Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Her integrative style blends the best in western and eastern medicine to effectively transform health.

Here’s how animals are good for heart health!

Guest Blog Post By Payal Bhandari M.D.

We all know dogs are man’s best friend. But did you know dogs can also be your heart’s best friend? Studies have shown owning a pet – especially a dog – can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are many reasons that can explain this link, but the general understanding is dog owners tend to exercise more regularly and lead a healthier lifestyle. Pets provide social support to their owners and help them stick with a new habit. So if you start the healthy habit of walking your dog on a daily basis, you can be sure your dog will hold you to it.

A scientific statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA) describes how studies found ownership of dogs can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Physical Activity

An online survey in which 5,253 Japanese adults participated revealed that dog owners are physically more active than non-owners, and was 54% more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

Physical activity can lower your blood pressure and decrease the likelihood of becoming obese, which is good for your heart health. A daily 30 minute walk with your dog, and occasional bouts of playing fetch will increase your health.

Lower Stress Levels

Animals are very good at lowering your stress levels. Pets have a calming presence and are natural mood enhancers. They’re also very good listeners. When you feel stressed and have to get something off your chest, your pet will be happy to listen to your vent without judgment. Walking with your dog, petting, and hugging your pet will also reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.

Research suggests dog-owners’ heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal quicker during times of stress, compared to non-owners.

Mental Health

Pets can even have a positive effect on your mental health, and people who are mentally healthy tend to live longer.

Pets have helped many people suffering from anxiety or depression get better. When you have to care for a pet, it shifts the focus away from your own problems. Pets love their owners unconditionally, helping you feel better about yourself.

Pets also make you feel less lonely, making them the perfect companion for older and sick people, as well as single children. You’re also bound to be more social – strangers are more likely to interact with you while walking your dog.

Improve Your Heart Health with a Pet

The companionship a pet provides has many health benefits, but don’t get a pet just to reduce your heart disease risk. You need to be sure you’ll be able to provide, care, and play with your pet.

Few things are so uplifting than the excitement your pet shows greeting you when you come home. The powerful bond which can exist between pet and owner is therapeutic; pets are tuned in to understand your behavior and emotions, and know when you need extra love and support.

Consider adopting a pet if your heart health concerns you, or if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Your new best friend might just be the answer to living longer and being healthier.

About the Author

Payal Bhandari M.D. is a family physician at Advanced Health. She provides personalized, comprehensive primary care to families and individuals of all ages in San Francisco since 2005. Dr. Bhandari delivers integrative, holistic care which looks at the whole person. She is consistently able to understand the root cause of any illness and effectively transform health.

Photo credit text: {Photo credit: SplitShire}