Move for a Healthy Heart

For Heart Health Month, we spoke with four experts from different modalities to more intimately understand the qualities of and recipe for a healthy heart. Helya Glen, fitness trainer and owner of Studio Ventura, knows that a healthy heart doesn't just happen and that it takes work. You can get moving with her in the show, Yogi Can't Jump.
Yoga Anytime: How did you come to fitness?
Glen: I started out with the same goals as everybody else. I wanted to get in shape, I wanted to have routines, and before I knew it I had more interest in it. I started to get certifications and people started to ask me to train them 1:1 and the opportunity came up to own a gym to take it to the next level. That was four and a half years ago.
Describe the heart.
Glen: The heart is an incredible organ. It supports you in ways that we honestly don’t even give it credit for. When you start to exercise, your cells grow, your muscles get bigger, your heart muscle actually gets bigger. It pumps more efficiently and it makes the whole machine run smoother.
For me, the heart is such a powerhouse of intuition. You know when you’re doing something right and you know when you’re doing something wrong. For some reason your heart tells your mind what to do. When they align, that’s when the stars meet.
How do you know when you follow your heart or head?
Glen: A lot of things in life make logical sense, it's black and white answers. That gut feeling you have is where you need to go. That’s the heart talking.
Making the decision to own a gym was a heart-based decision because financially it didn’t make sense. My heart told me "this is the right move, you need to do this."
The work that I do comes from the heart. Everyone I talk to, everyone I help, I don’t just do my job, I get to know them. They may say they want to lose weight, but in reality they want to get confidence and feel better about themselves. Figuring out what someone’s true intentions are, having heart-to-heart conversations is what I really do. I use my heart to connect to others.
Where does this heart intuition come from?
Glen: Our heart is always talking, but we forget to listen. Understanding when to be quiet and when to listen. I don’t know where it's connected to, but I know that if I listen long enough it will point me in the right direction.
What is your understanding of a healthy heart?
Glen: Anatomically, on a health standpoint, a healthy heart is one that functions well. A healthy heart doesn’t just happen, it takes work. Eating well, exercising regularly, making sure you are connected, mindful of what you do every day.
Heart health is something we struggle with as a society, because of diet and lack of exercise. It’s a combination of spiritual and physical. The physical determines the mental and spiritual part of it. If you are taking care of yourself, your spiritual standpoint will be better as well. You’re confident, more likely to listen and take risks.
What are your top 3 suggestions for a healthy heart?
  • My number one is to move every day. Get the blood flowing.
  • The second one is eating well. Eat greens, vegetables. [It] sounds cliché, but it's really hard for people to do who don’t do it often. The standard “treat your body like a temple.” You only have one.
  • Take time for yourself. For me it’s movement mediation. But if movement meditation is not your thing. Do things that make your heart happy. Maybe its hanging out with friends, maybe its cooking, maybe it’s baking, whatever it is that makes you happy and proud of yourself. Do that.
What are primary obstacles to doing above?
Glen: Time. Lack of time. Nobody has time to take care of themselves. To move. And the answer to that is, make time. Exercise and movement does not have to be 2 to 3 hours a day. It could be 15 minutes. You are lying if you’re saying you don’t have 15 minutes. Consistency is key.
Why do we let go of our positive habits?
Glen: You let go of yourself [because] it’s easy to make excuses to put yourself second. The first thing you try to do is fix everything out of your control. We love to control things.
And the first thing we start to do when we feel like we are losing control is try to control the things we can’t control. Like finances, or a relationship that went sour, someone dumped you. So what? You get to move on.
Your heart controls what your body is doing. Your emotions dictate your actions and it should be for the positive not the negative. Cultivating the positive in the heart is a key practice.
Is A healthy heart a choice?
Glen: Yes.
What is your hearts joy?
Glen: Right now it’s this baby! Growing this baby is such a weird experience for me. Nobody protects you from this, how emotional being pregnant is going to be. My body is changing in front of me, and I have no control over it. I’ve been fit all my life and now I have fat. It’s this insulated body protecting this baby. I have to trust my heart. That I’m gonna love this baby so much. It’s a miracle. I’m already in love with this thing I’ve never met. And I’m willing to sacrifice my body for it. This is my job. What I do and how I look is a huge part of my job, but none of it matters. My heart is happy because I’m in a state of sacrifice. But it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice it feels like this awesome responsibility.
The heart doesn’t like change, but there is this empathy that your heart allows you to give in to give up when things are too hard. It allows you to be soft, when you could be strong.
The heart is vulnerable. It can be broken. It has the ability to love. But it’s so powerful, because it can knock you off your feet, but it can also lift you up. It's such a strong muscle.
The heart is what makes everyone vulnerable to change, because if we did not have that we would just be robots.
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Kira Sloane
About the Author

Kira Sloane

Kira is fascinated by the study of what Is and loves to examine the ordinary every day miracles.


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