According to Ayurveda, the heart of is the seat of a person’s soul and its health is a natural reflection of our state of balance or imbalance. Ayurveda is the healing side of yoga and a 5,000-year-old system of holistic medicine that has originated in India and is practices around the world.
1. Manage Your Stress. Certain constitutional types, in Ayurveda known as pitta (the fire element) and vata (the air and space elements) are more prone to experiencing the negative impacts of stress and experiencing symptoms and syndromes including high blood pressure. People whose predominant type is pitta tend to focus on perfection and pushing their limits, leading to sleepless nights, an increase of the sympathetic nervous systems’ fight or flight response and high blood pressure. Outside factors such as a demanding career can also cause stress. Reduce the negative impacts of stress by knowing your limits, setting boundaries for yourself, and releasing judgment on yourself and others.
2. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. While this may sound as simple as song lyrics, our outlook on life makes a difference, especially since emotions such as joy and sorrow are held in the heart. Become lighthearted and cultivate an upbeat outlook and healthy relationships. In order to find your bliss, participate in balanced, fun activities and focus on a positive attitude. We expend a lot of mental energy ruminating, but dwelling on past mistakes won’t change them. Change your thinking now to take charge of your future. Spend time with family and friends, including the four-legged kind. Studies show that pets help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety in their owners. Other simple ways to reduce worry and increase happiness include the use of calming aromatherapy such as lavender and rose, listening to uplifting music, and laughing.
3. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods. Focus on whole foods, preferably organic, rather than of processed or canned foods, which can contribute to weight gain and toxicity. Shop the outer aisles of your supermarket, or better yet, the farmer’s market for the freshest foods.
Since many people with a propensity for heart health issues have predominantly pitta constitutions or pitta imbalances, meaning that they run on the fiery side, maintaining cool balance involves limiting heating foods such as salsa, peppers, garlic, hot spices, red meat, coffee, alcohol and refined starches. Instead, opt for green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, organic chicken and turkey and fresh fish. Fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, and halibut may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Be aware of how much you eat. Follow the Ayurvedic suggestion of eating only what you can hold in two cupped hands at your three daily meals.
4. Just Breathe. Specific pranayama, or yogic breathing techniques, along with meditation, calm the system. Many people can learn to reduce their blood pressure simply through breathing exercises.
A simple pranayama technique: inhale for six counts and exhale for eight counts for 10 minutes while relaxing in a cool, dark room. Follow with 10-15 minutes of meditation for a heart-healthy day.
5. Heart-Pumping Remedies. An inactive lifestyle is one of the risk factors for heart disease, so increase your heart’s strength and efficiency by keeping your body moving with enjoyable activities, especially in the outdoors, at least five days a week. Yoga, walking, swimming and cycling are only a few of many heart healthy options.
Ayurveda suggests exercising to only half of one’s maximum capacity. While people with a competitive nature may adhere to the adage of no pain, no gain, over-exercising can put strain on the body, and subsequently the heart.
6. Drink Up. Hydration is important to help prevent clogging of the arteries, so drink half of your ideal body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, a 150 pound person should drink 75 ounces of pure water – this doesn’t include coffee, tea, juice or other beverages.
7. Shut Your Eyes. Poor sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and stroke, diabetes, and obesity, so sleep for seven to eight hours nightly.
8. Supplement for Heart Health. Specific formulations of herbs, vitamins, and minerals tailored for your body and suggested by a qualified practitioner can help support whole heart health. Some heart healthy supplements include arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Vitamin B-6, folic acid, magnesium, coenzyme Q-10, and pushkarmool (Inula racemosa).
9. Use the Right Salt. The salt that our heart needs is more complex than the standard table salt that is sodium and chloride alone. Heart healthy salt blends include a variety of other minerals such as potassium e, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and others.
Dr. Virender Sodhi is an Ayurvedic Vaidya (physician) with an MD (Ayurveda) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College in Punjab, India. He has also earned an ND degree from Bastyr University in Seattle. who is one of the founders of R-U-VED Ayurvedic Products located in Seattle. He is a presenter at the 2012 National Ayurvedic Medical Association Conference in April. For more information, visit: ruved.net.