There has never been a better opportunity than now to revise our old, unsustainable habits and begin to embrace the changes we all need to make to live in a more sustainable and health supporting world.
We are learning that in fact it is possible to fly less, to consume less and to take more responsibility for our own health and the health of our world.
The earth’s immunity comes from a balanced eco system and diverse wildlife – and we have a lot to do with that.
Our own immunity also depends on us.
A virus like the corona virus – or any other virus for that matter – can only cause damage if your immune system is compromised.
But even if you do have an underlying condition, there is so much that you can do to lower the risk of getting seriously ill.
And if you don’t have any conditions, count yourself lucky and make sure you keep it that way.
Ayurveda and Immunity
As most things, a well functioning immune system rests on a well functioning digestive system.
Any food or drink we ingest, is broken down first in the stomach and duodenum, then in the liver and gall bladder and finally is metabolised in each individual tissue cell.
Nutritive substances nourish all of our seven tissue cells in a specific order and follow along specific pathways:
Red blood cells
The end product of this metabolic chain is a subtle substance called Ojas. Ojas relates to the kind of physiological substances that give us vitality, fertility and immunity, and stimulates the production of hormones, T-cells, etc.
Ojas is stored in the heart, the brain and the reproductive organs. The more we have, the better our immunity.
What can we do to increase Ojas?
For Ojas to be produced without disruption, three things have to happen:
1. The metabolic pathways (in ayurveda called Srotas, or channels) must be clear and free from blockage
2. All seven tissues must be adequately nourished.
3. The mind is also a srota (channel) and therefor must also be kept free from blockages and toxins.
So, how can we do that?
It really is quite simple.
To keep the channels from being clogged (think of blood vessels clogged with cholesterol or too much glucose, blocked cell membranes, inflammation, etc), don’t put more into your body than it can cope with. If you overtax your digestive system by eating too much, too often, eating without being hungry (the body tells you when it is ready to digest through hunger – listen to it), or if you eat too many things that are hard to digest (processed foods, heavy, rich meals, foods that are incomparable with your constitution, too many different and incompatible types of food at once), leftover, undigested particles will remain in the system and become toxic..To sum it up:
– If you are not hungry, don’t eat (unless you have an eating disorder or are underweight and have to retrain your appetite). It’s fine to skip a meal. Learn to listen to your body.
– Listen to your body. It will give you clear signs if it is struggling with something. How are you feeling after a meal? Are you feeling heavy, tired? Bloated? Do you have acid reflux? Nausea? Pain? Gas? All of these are signs that your digestion is struggling. Listen to it and find out what it is struggling with.
– When you do eat, make it count. Try to cook your own meals, as we’ve done for thousands of years, rather than going out or eating quick, ready meals. Make sure every single ingredient in your meal is of good quality, mostly plants, whole and preferably organic. Vegetables, lentils and basmati rice (a very digestible kind of rice) are a good choice for staple meals.
– Enjoy your food. As important as it is to choose healthful ingredients, if you force it down without enjoyment, your body will not fully digest it.
Choose foods that make you feel truly satisfied and feeling good, even hours after you’ve eaten it. To achieve satisfaction, try to avoid extreme tastes, like very sweet or very salty or very spicy. Try to include all 6 tastes, including bitter and astringent.
– Use digestive spices to support your metabolism. Some great ones are Cumin, Coriander, Fennel, Ginger, Cinnamon, black pepper and Ajwan. Use good quality rock salt and good quality fats like Ghee, which is particularly good at feeding Ojas.
– Keep foods like dairy, red meat, gluten grains, bread, pasta and sugar to a minimum or avoid them completely. Always avoid highly processed foods. If you eat meat, get good quality, organic, free range, even if they are more expensive (remember that those are the actual priced of food, cheaper ones are usually made cheaper by mistreating the animals).
– Keep your mind free from fear and worry. Don’t panic. Instead, meditate. Loving kindness meditation (like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d_AA9H4z9U.) will hugely improve your own mood and your immunity and this will have a knock on effect on many others. The thymus gland (where T-cells mature) is very close to our heart.
Use your time at home to be creative. Did you always want to learn an instrument or write a book? Or get the box with acrylic paint out or play a board game with your family?
Go for long walks. Read fiction. Enjoy a comedy. Facebook your mother.
It’s more important than you might think, especially in time of these.
Stay away from social media and if you do feel panicked by the events, try to refrain from posting all your fears on facebook – you might spread fear quicker than you think. Better to talk to a close friend or family about it.
– Be helpful, kind and loving. This will not only help others, but you as well. A feeling of bliss and love will hugely boost our immune system and effectively reduce stress. What can you do to help? Check on your single mother friend, who is stuck at home with her kids and might feel lonely. Or whatever else you can do. Do it.
– Get enough sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, take all of the above advice, go to bed early without gadgets (read a book if you like), take a warm milk (of any kind) with nutmeg, don’t drink coffee or alcohol, practice Yoga Nidra and/or meditation daily. Herbs like Valerian, Jatamansi or Passionflower can be helpful too.
– Do Yoga.
All of the above is supported greatly by a regular, daily Yoga practice, even if it is only for a few minutes each day.
– Daily oil massage can work miracles. It nourishes the skin (first barrier against infection), and the nervous system, and it lubricates the whole body. It supplies good fats without it having to go through the digestive system.
Use sesame oil for a tridoshic effect. A few drops in the nostrils are great to keep mucus membranes healthy and effective agains invaders. Oil pulling helps keep the mouth clear from bacteria.
– the regular use of a Neti pot helps to keep airways and sinuses clean. Use warm saltwater and a drop of oil afterward to massage the membranes of the nostrils.
And if all this isn’t enough, or if you are worried about any conditions you might have, there are plenty of good quality ayurvedic herbs available that can help even more, by increasing or balancing the digestive system, reducing inflammation, supporting the liver, supporting the nervous system, etc.
(Consultations are available even over the phone or FaceTime if you like – contact www.sunshineyogawexford.com)
So, let’s take a deep breath and look forward to changing our habits for the better. This could be the kick in the behind we all needed.