Improve your heart health with the Ornish program in Denmark

My week as a coronary heart disease patient

One week I have lived according to the Dr. Dean Ornish program during my yoga therapy certification course for heart conditions. I had the privilege to study with Lutz Hertel, who worked closely with Dr. Dean Ornish himself and lived according to the program for 30 years as well as is accompanying people with heart problems ever since.

Let me start with saying this: I am feeling amazing!

The four pillars of the Ornish Program for heart health

  • Food (plant-based very low fat)
  • Relaxation (Yoga for the heart)
  • Movement (Walking or Slow Jogging)
  • Community (Sharing circle)

Let me briefly introduce you to these pillars.

Food for a healthy heart

The diet is a plant-based whole foods low fat diet. I ate my usual vegan diet but didn’t add any oils (and as usual no sugar) and avoided any processed foods that had added oils.
I ate mainly whole foods with tofu, soy yoghurt, lentil pasta, mustard and rice cakes being the only processed foods I had. I came up with a great variety of delicious dishes and it was not difficult at all, once you know what you are doing. Reach out, if you want to learn more or get some inspiration.

Yoga for a healthy heart

We practiced a specific deeply relaxing form of yoga for the heart that is suitable to prevent and to support treatment of coronary heart conditions. Taking physiology and different types of heart conditions into account to make this a safe and nurturing practice.

Movement for a healthy heart

Another part of the program is to strengthen your heart with moderate exercise.
We had a target pulse and we aimed to do 3h of this training during this week. I broke it down to daily 30 min walks with the occasional slow jogging to reach my target pulse. I experimented with walking up hills, carrying extra weight on my back and learning the new slow jogging technique.

Community for a healthy heart

The fourth pillar were regular group talks. Suppressing emotions and lack of community have been scientifically shown to negatively impact heart health. Part of the program is getting together as humans and sharing from our hearts.

So how did all of this make me feel?

The first days I was pretty hungry, as I had to compensate for the lack of oil with more veggies and carbs. But after three days, I didn’t feel that anymore. Also the first three days I felt a bit of withdrawal syndromes, probably caused by no processed and sugary foods, jep I had some vegan Ben & Jerrys before the experiment started.
Making these new dishes was fun as I in general enjoy taking care of my body. I already have non toxic non stick pans, so it was easy to prepare meals and eat a great variety of plants.
The exercise was a bit challenging in the beginning but around day four I really got a hold of it, and damn it feels good. So I am committed to keeping this cardiovascular training in my routine, as it is also an important part in our Feel Good Aging program.
My sleep improved dramatically this week and my energy levels are high despite the very full and busy days and being premenstrual.
Talking about cycles. I did notice a big change in mood. Usually I am easily irritable, and close to tears and full of self doubt during my luteal phase. I noticed none of this. I feel contempt, relaxed, confident and generally happy. So that is definitely something to keep on exploring to help with PMS.

My take-away is that I can see how it can be challenging to implement for people who do not have a focus on a healthy diet and mental and physical well-being yet, but it can be done and I am here to help. It is amazing how this can improve the lives of people with heart conditions and has been shown as one of the only ways to reverse coronary heart disease.
I will definitely make more time for my self-practice and my regular get-my-pulse-up-walks as well reduce added oils dramatically from my diet.
It was an eye opening and highly educational week, and I am impressed how great I feel after just ONE week of doing the program.

Curious about heart health for prevention or know someone who is affected. Let’s have a chat and together we can work on reducing preventable heart disease. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to best deal with setbacks

Are you a failure because you experience setbacks? Of course not dear! Just because you didn’t do what you wanted to do, doesn’t mean you are a failure. We all have setbacks. They are normal. Important is on how do we move on from them?

The strong connection between intuition and alignment

Following our intuition in yoga encourages us to sometimes step out of alignment, embracing variations of poses, and allowing our body to move and groove to its own rhythm rather than that instructed by the yoga teacher.

How to adapt your yoga practice during your cycle

In this guest blog post, Jana explains the influence the female cycle has on women’s energy levels and their yoga practice. You’ll learn how Ayurveda views the phases of the cycle and how you can support yourself through your yoga practice with asana (yoga shapes), pranayama (breath and energy work) and meditation during each phase.

Happy Students

Warrior Princess Yoga

Reviews of students

Georgiana November 1st, 2022

I met Julia at a retreat and she is an amazing teacher and a really lovely human. I loved how she didn't rush through the process and we really went back to basics, while at the same time learning a wide variety of things about yoga, from how to do a certain asana to yogic wisdom. It was obvious that Julia knows a lot and she is also really good at sharing it with others. She redefined in my mind what a good yoga teacher is.

Eve January 22nd, 2020

Julia is one of the most precious yoga teacher I’ve ever had! I would recommend all her practices with a special mention for her yoga nidra. I got so relaxed and so deeply calmed down by her voice during each session, she helped me letting it go towards either a tight sleep or for restful nap. Very powerful experience and human being. thank you Warrior Princess!

Agnieszka January 21st, 2020

I have had the most relaxing beautiful experience in the yoga Nidra class. Thank you so much 🙏. You are so knowledgeable and your voice so soothing

Sarah February 14th, 2020

Julia ably and effortlessly led a vinyasa class with clear instruction and really helpful assists. She spoke about philosophy just the right amount, there was still plenty of space and quiet to really get into the practice. Thank you Julia!! I loved it

Majbritt May 3rd, 2020

The best yoga in Copenhagen. They are very skilled at Hatha yoga, Yin, and yoga nidra. Julia has a good personality, an she is one of my favorite instructor.

Kim April 1st, 2020

Julia is an amazing teacher. I have had three classes with her so far and she already improved my asanas a lot. I appreciate her hands on experience and eye for detail. Thank you Julia. Big hug! (by the way: her guided meditations are the best!)