Ayurveda and the Healthy Heart
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”
– Blaise Pascal
To say that the heart is an astounding feat of nature would be the understatement of the year. The heart is the epicenter of life itself. Circulating approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through the body on a daily basis (that’s almost 1.4 gallons every minute), the average heart beats 100,000 times per day as it works to supply almost every cell in the body — roughly 75 trillion of them — with oxygenated blood. Though it weighs less than a pound, the heart provides enough energy in one hour’s time to lift a mid-sized car off the ground several feet. The heart is a powerhouse of strength: its mechanics have been thoroughly mapped out in science. Yet its inner workings — its interconnected relationship with and response to stress levels and emotions — are complex, and despite all that science has discovered, remain somewhat a mystery. It’s of little surprise that the heart has been the subject of poems, stories, metaphors and adages throughout history.
Because heart health is inseparably linked to not only physical but emotional well-being, we want to be conscious of taking care of all aspects of our health — physical, psychological, and emotional. Ayurvedically speaking, the heart is the seat of ojas — the most refined relative substance. Ojas maintains life and supports bliss and longevity. A healthy heart supports a healthy life; with that in mind, here are a few lifestyle tips worth incorporating. Now to the heart of the matter...
Get Out (and stay out!)
It’s no secret that physical activity is great for the ol’ ticker. It’s also no secret that it’s sometimes difficult to find the time, let alone the motivation, to work out. But keeping one’s heart rate up doesn’t have to require a gym membership; a simple brisk walk, a jaunt up and down a flight of stairs, or even regular housework can get the heart a-thumpin’. If there is time for a “real” workout, activities like swimming, cycling, dancing and rollerblading are excellent to promote a hearty heart.
Cardio Support offers nutritional support for the cardiac muscle; helps cleanse the cardiovascular channels; and supports a healthy response to a high-stress lifestyle, impurities in food, and other environmental toxins. Importantly, Cardio Support also nourishes and supports the emotional heart. (This is one of the wonders of ayurveda; it takes into account not only physical health, but also emotional, intellectual and spiritual health.) So whether you wish to keep your heart physically healthy, or you are seeking emotional balance, Cardio Support is a powerful product.
Robert H. Schneider, M.D., a leading authority on scientific and natural approaches for prevention and treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, stress, and other cardiovascular risk factors says, “Modern medicine tends to focus on fixing the ‘parts’ of a person, such as diseased arteries. On the other hand, Maharishi Ayurveda does something more profound. It looks to our own biological intelligence and self-healing mechanisms to repair imbalances and restore proper physiological functioning.”
Eat Your Heart Out
“We are what we eat.” Food is life. So what we put into our bodies is pretty important, especially when it comes to keeping everything running smoothly. Well-cooked organic vegetarian meals are ideal for heart health and overall well-being. Following an ayurvedic diet and routine when it comes to food is great for our hearts.
Organic Digest Tone is a powerhouse herbal that supports digestion, elimination and healthy absorption of nutrients. Additionally, Digest Tone promotes ojas, which creates luster in the skin and rejuvenates vital energy.
Cholesterol Protection promotes healthy levels of blood cholesterol, and supports healthy fat metabolism.
Here's a potentially life-changing ayurvedic diet tip from Alan Marks, CEO of vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda:
“Try to eat your main meal of the day between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m., and eat a well-cooked, easy-to-digest dinner at least three hours before bedtime. This lighter meal at dinnertime is one way to set the foundation for a sound night of sleep.” Marks goes on to explain that, “When we eat a heavy dinner, we are telling our body to do two opposing things: ‘settle and sleep,’ and ‘stay active and digest.’ The result is that we wake up not completely rested and with inefficient digestion.”
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
There are many studies which indicate that happiness is hugely beneficial to the heart. Nowadays it can be a bit of a challenge to maintain an optimistic outlook, with negativity enjoying the spotlight almost everywhere we look.
To mitigate emotional stress associated with dosha imbalances, consider some support:
Blissful Joy — For those with Kapha (slow and steady) tendencies, Blissful Joy supports emotional stability and helps address feelings of sadness and frustration.
Worry Free — For those with Vata tendencies (ever moving and sometimes nervous), Worry Free calms the mind and emotions, supports clarity of mind and deeper sleep, and provides natural support for everyday stress and tension.
Stress Free Emotions — For those with Pitta tendencies (listen, type As — we love you, but…), Stress Free Emotions is designed with you in mind. When you start to feel frustrated, angry or controlling under pressure, this is the go-to herbal formula.
BP Balance cleanses and nourishes the circulatory system, and because stressful situations can't always be avoided, BP Balance’s synergistic combination of boerhavia, jatamansi, Indian frankincense and arjuna helps balance your body's long-term response to stress and its effects.
To more thoroughly understand your response to stress from an ayurvedic perspective, reference our Doshas In and Out of Balance Chart.
Aromas — they are for everyone
If scented solutions are your preference:
Blissful Heart Aroma Oil is especially made for those times when you need a boost. This fragrant, uplifting blend that includes sandalwood, peppermint, lemon and thyme will help wake you up to the joy of life again.
Worry Free Aroma Oil blend includes patchouli, lemon and jasmine, and will help you unwind and create your personal oasis of calm.
The best option is to keep at least one each our of vpk (vata, pitta and kapha) balancing aromas on hand. The one that smells the best at any given time is the one to use — the one your body, so to speak, “craves” to balance itself. So we don’t encourage favoritism when it comes to our aromas and our ever-changing bodies! Our sense of smell is considered the most primitive of our senses (not in a negative sense!). It is part of our limbic system, considered the oldest part of the brain from an evolutionary standpoint. When we use aromas, the effect is immediate and powerful.
Sleep On It
In addition to sleeping long enough each night, it’s important to obtain quality sleep. One aspect often overlooked is your mattress. Things like waking with aches and pains, or feeling more tired than when you went to bed, are good indicators that you might need a new mattress. The general consensus seems to be that mattresses should be replaced about every eight years for optimum-quality sleep. Other ayurvedic ways to improve your sleep quality include doing abhyanga, using a small amount of Youthful Skin Massage Oil or one of our vpk Massage Oils — this can be extremely relaxing just before bed. Try combining Organic Rose Petal Spread with warm milk for a soothing, delicious bedtime drink. The rose is renowned in ayurveda for its cooling effect on mind, body and emotions. For additional sleep recommendations, see our article on sleep tips.
First Things First (which is, ironically, last on this list)
I’d like to reiterate the importance of addressing all aspects of health — physical, psychological and emotional. If we act on only one level to try to improve our heart health (e.g. physical), we’re merely “tending the leaves” instead of the root of causation. Yes, it’s important to be physically active, to eat well, to get enough rest, etc., but those efforts are going to go only so far if we don’t also address emotional and psychological well-being. Practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique twice daily has been shown in research studies to help in lowering blood pressure, reversing arterial blockage and enhancing resistance to all types of stress.
When I discussed this article with Alan Marks, CEO of vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda, he reminded me about living heart-healthy with all our senses. Did you know that, according to ayurveda, we not only metabolize our food, but we metabolize with every sense? You might wonder how this is. Well, for example, when you hear a beautiful song, you not only have an inspiring emotional response, but your body also produces the biochemical markers associated with that happy state of being. The above example holds true for all our senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell. Marks reiterates that our bodies are our “hard drives,” reflecting all our experiences in life. So remember, when we engage in happy, healthy and uplifting habits, we literally change, heal and support our entire body — and that includes our heart!
To summarize: by incorporating (in an easy, non-stressful manner) a few or all of these ayurvedic habits into your life, you’re not only benefiting your overall health and well-being, but you’re subtly sending yourself the message that you are worth the time you spend on yourself. You deserve to enjoy boundless well-being in body, mind, and spirit. And you know this, in your heart of hearts.
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.