Have a Healthy Heart
While modern medicine studies and treats the physical heart, Maharishi Ayurveda recognizes that there are actually two aspects to the heart: the physical heart that pumps the blood, and the emotional heart that experiences joy, love, and sorrow.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
In fact, Maharishi Ayurveda even goes beyond this to the deeper, more subtle elements. For example, the ayurvedic texts say that prana, the life force, is seated in the heart. The heart is also the seat of the subtle, life-sustaining substance ojas. Ojas is the material equivalent of immunity and bliss. A special kind of ojas, known as the essential ojas, is stored in the heart. Eight drops of essential ojas reside in the heart as long as the person lives.
There are three main subdoshas that govern the health of the heart: they are Vyana Vata, which is seated in the heart and governs the beating of the heart and the circulation of blood throughout the body; Sadhaka Pitta, which governs the emotions and their effect on heart functioning; and Avalambaka Kapha, which governs the structure, stability and strength of the heart.
Other subdoshas are also involved in heart health, such as Prana Vata, which governs the mind. When, due to mental stress, Prana Vata is out of balance, it can impact the health of the heart. Udana Vata, which governs the chest and throat area, is also involved in keeping the heart healthy.
The life energy, or prana, is maintained by a delicate balance between soma and agni. Agni is the principle of nature that governs the digestive and metabolic functions in the body. Because it involves heat, it is associated with the energy of the sun. You could say that the sun's energy takes the form of agni in the human body.
Soma, on the other hand, is cooling and associated with the cooling, nourishing influence of the moon. In terms of heart health, soma soothes the emotions and mind and builds a strong heart. When you say that a person has a flowing heart, you are talking about the influence of soma.
There needs to be a balance between these two influences for the heart to be healthy. Unfortunately, our modern, fast-paced life inevitably tips the scale in favor of agni and diminishes soma. The nourishing, soothing influence of soma is diminished when people are under pressure at work, when they are rushing around, when they don't get enough sleep, when they are exposed to electromagnetic influences, when they drink impure water or breathe impure air, and when they eat "fast" foods or chemical-laden foods. You could say that modern life causes soma to waste away.
To protect the heart, it's important to understand what kinds of dietary and lifestyle choices cause Vyana Vata and Sadhaka Pitta to become imbalanced and soma and ojas to be diminished. Once you know what these are, you should avoid those foods and lifestyle choices and instead seek to actively support the production of soma and ojas in the body with your diet and lifestyle.
Pacifying Vyana Vata
- Eat more unctuous, freshly-cooked, warm foods, and avoid cold foods and drinks. Also avoid leftover, packaged, canned, frozen, processed or fast foods.
- Eat in a settled, quiet atmosphere and focus on your food when you eat.
- Go to bed before 10:00 p.m., and manage your mental workload. Do mild exercise every day, such as taking a walk or stretching exercises like yoga.
- Stay warm and use a humidifier during winter.
Pacifying Sadhaka Pitta
- Avoid emotional confrontations.
- Create a home environment that is pleasing and restful to the senses.
- Avoid watching TV at night, especially any violent movies or shows, and go to bed before 10:00 p.m., the Pitta time of night.
- Eat more sweet, bitter and astringent foods, such as a cooked sweet, juicy pear for breakfast.
- Avoid delaying or skipping meals, and drink plenty of pure water throughout the day.
Eating for heart health
There are some foods that are especially nourishing to the heart. These include mature pomegranate fruit or juice; asparagus; any sweet, juicy, seasonal fruits; Organic Rose Petal Spread (especially for pacifying Pitta or Vata-induced heart imbalances); sweet lassi; avocado; and leafy greens cooked with the Healthy Heart Spice Mix
Lifestyle choices that enhance heart health
It's important to actively seek the positive in life. While ojas creates bliss and emotional balance, there are also behaviors, called Behavioral Rasayanas, that cultivate ojas in the body. Some Behavioral Rasayanas include practicing Transcendental Meditation®; staying in the company of wise people; keeping a regular routine and pure diet; getting enough sleep; eschewing alcohol, cigarettes and drugs; cultivating a calm attitude; adhering to the teachings of your religion; and speaking the truth. Each day offers opportunities to enjoy life — it is up to you to seek out the activities and people that bring you true happiness and contentment. This is essential for the health of your heart; it's essential for your life.
Herbs that heal
Maharishi Ayurveda offers a formula for cardiac health, called Cardio Support. Cardio Support contains two stellar herbs for supporting the heart. The principal herb Arjuna is renowned in ayurveda for its ability to pacify Sadhaka Pitta, and thus balance the emotions, and to nourish the physical heart as well. Guggul, the second herb, has been shown to help balance cholesterol by purifying the fat tissues.
This Cardio Support formula is especially designed with the modern American lifestyle in mind, to support the heart amidst the challenges of modern life. It protects the life force by enhancing both ojas and agni in the heart, and by enhancing the level of soma. It is particularly targeted to protect the heart against the pressured lifestyle, the impurities in the food, and the electromagnetic overexposure that most people experience in America today.
This formula is excellent for long-term Sadhaka Pitta imbalances, which in turn affect the life-energy of the heart. It also balances the effects of electromagnetic energy from the environment, and helps balance Vyana Vata and Prana Vata. It is designed to help the average person support the heart physically and emotionally.
Blissful Joy is recommended to help further pacify Sadhaka Pitta. Blissful Joy is really the best product for emotional heart health and to help create healthier relationships. It also has the heart-supporting herb Arjuna, combined with other herbs that also target Sadhaka Pitta. The rose is very soothing for emotions, so anyone with a Sadhaka Pitta imbalance should also take Organic Rose Petal Spread.
For mental stress, it's best to take Worry Free along with Cardio Support to help balance Prana Vata and create more resilience to stress in daily living. It's very necessary for cardiac health that one's heart and mind work together in a very coordinated way. If you are having problems with sleep, choose Blissful Sleep or Deep Rest.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.