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February is Heart Awareness Month and we can't think of anyone better to inspire us to take care of our own heart health than a beloved member of our very own SHIFT YOGA family. Linda Penkala is an author, wellness educator and licensed massage therapist and has been enjoying yin yoga at SHIFT for years. She uses yin yoga and meditation as an important part of her heart health journey. She is passionately dedicated to educating women on wise heart health after her own scary experience years ago with Atrial Fibrillation. She is the author of "The Pause To Relax", an inspiring guidebook for women to make smart heart choices for life. We love her with all our heart and are honored to share her words with you below.


"Emotion can be the enemy, if you give into your emotion, you lose yourself. You must be at one with your emotions, because the body always follows the mind." --Bruce Lee

These hands that have touched and massaged muscles for over 33 years as a massage therapist and can attest to that quote being 100% correct. The body, especially soft tissue along with ligaments can be a sponge, a holding area for countless emotions. They may range from anger, anxiety, awe, horror, joy, confusion, love, and involve not only feelings, but behaviors, sounds and smells. It’s safe to say we have felt a wide range of emotions this past year, positive or negative, sensing where they may have settled in the body, whether shoulders, hips, neck, face or heart. It is this latter soulful engine of your body that needs loving attention most especially during stress filled times to keep cardiovascular issues at bay.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins revealed that an abrupt emotional stressor can lead to a weaker heart muscle, appearing that it could have been a heart attack. This “broken heart syndrome” is more prevalent in women under a huge burden of stress, and is misdiagnosed as a heart attack. One example is the death of Debbie Reynolds, one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher’s death. "Any imbalance in an emotional state - when one emotion dominates or overrides the others - can predispose one to heart disease," says Frank Lipman, MD, an integrative physician, board-certified internist. "Learning to deal with emotions is extremely important."

Heart Math demonstrates on their valuable website, that the heart and brain communicate with either love, joy and ease, or frustration, anxiety and stress. Having tools such as their Quick Coherent Technique uses the power of your heart to balance thoughts and emotions.

What follows are others:

Choose Gratitude ~ noting 3 moments grateful each night

Sleep Deep ~ dark room, cool temp, diffuse lavender, lemon, cedarwood

Prayer, Meditation ~ with 3-5-8 breathing, in, hold, exhale slowly, or alternate nostril breathing

Smile More ~ uplifts the spirits with hormones of dopamine/seratonin

Gather with Girlfriends ~ connecting hearts for health reduces cortisol and increases happy hormone of oxytocin

Aromatherapy for Calming ~ cedarwood, frankincense, peace & calming

Slow Down, Relax ~ intentionally with Yin Yoga

Your emotions make you human. Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don't lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.” -- Sabaa Tahir


You can connect and learn more about Linda's work and purchase her heart health book for women by visiting her website


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