Tune into ancient Ayurvedic wisdom that offers guidance on keeping our bodies strong and our minds calm, amidst times of pandemic and stress.
Ayurveda is a five-thousand-year-old natural system of healing that originated in India, rooted in longevity and preventative practices. The word Ayurveda has a profound meaning that helps us understand its purpose. “Ayu” refers to life or longevity. “Veda” means knowledge or learning at the deepest level. Ayurveda gives us the knowledge to live life to our highest potential. As COVID-19 continues to spread we can turn to the practices of Ayurveda for guidance in keeping our bodies strong and our minds calm.
An important part of this knowledge is related to living in harmony with nature. A basic premise of Ayurveda is to adjust our diet and activities with the change of the seasons in order to stay healthy all year long. Many of the lifestyle and dietary changes we incorporate at the end of winter, will also help to boost our immune system and calm our minds in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diet and Detox
For our diet, notice that the land is already giving us different foods. Eat them, eat seasonally! In Ayurveda, spring is the king of seasons – the official time for detoxification. Support your body’s natural desire to purify and renew by reducing the intake of heavy, sugary and oily foods such as meat, refined carbs, and anything deep-fried. Instead, favor the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and eat warm and light foods that are relatively easy to digest. Use spices such as fresh ginger, black pepper, and cinnamon to bolster digestive strength. Favor seasonal, fresh vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats and oils. Additionally, drink plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.
Exercise and Airways
Use the renewing energy that nature brings with the spring season to remove the gunk from the body and cleanse with adequate exercise. In the earlier, cooler morning hours before 10 am, engage in brisk physical movement such as hiking, jogging or biking. Exercise to about 50-60% of your maximum capacity to boost your immune system. To clear the air passages, use a nasal wash or neti pot every day upon awakening. After your nasal wash, rub 3 to 5 drops of sesame oil into your nostrils. This will keep your sinuses clean and reduce the risk of infection.
Get adequate sleep. Balanced sleep is a staple of optimal health year-round. The cycles of light and dark regulate our body’s hormonal system and if we are out of sync with the light/dark cycles, a cascade of imbalances can result. Our body and mind rest, detoxify, and rejuvenate during sleep. A poor night’s sleep has been linked to a host of health concerns including susceptibility to catching a cold and the flu. It is not just about how many hours we sleep but most importantly when we go to bed and wake up. Our hormones do their best jobs when we go to sleep before 10 PM and wake up before sunrise.
Daily pranayama and meditation practice
Kapalabhati, the skull-shining breath is a great practice for keeping the sinuses clean. This pranayama (yogic breathing practice) is a cleansing and invigorating practice. (Not sure how to practice Kapalabhati? Please see the below video!)
Daily meditation can allow us to access the stable, steady, and loving parts of ourselves even during tumultuous times. It can relieve the multitude of emotions that arise during times of stress, such as fear and anxiety by letting those feelings move through us as we trust they will shift and change.
Fear and panic produce anxiety, which increases the production of cortisol and other immunity-depressing substances. The most practical, quick, effective, free-from-side-effect way to reduce anxiety is dirgha svaasam, deep breathing. In addition to its instantaneous and powerful anti-anxiety effect, deep breathing substantially increases the body’s oxygenation and, as a result, improves the functioning of all cells, including those of the immune system. Practice it many times a day. And remember: we are all more resilient than we know.
Disclaimer: Always check with your medical doctor before making any changes to your health & wellness plan. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not a replacement for medical care. Please seek medical attention if you believe you have the coronavirus.