Ayurveda is an Eastern philosophy and healing method that uses simple and natural remedies such as nutrition, lifestyle, medicinal herbs and breathing exercises, but also meditation and yoga. Ayurveda assumes that the health of the mind influences the health of the body and vice versa.
Ayurveda considers human health to be the result of factors that take place both inside and outside the body. Creating harmony between body, mind and your environment is crucial in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda approaches everything from the positive side, so from health and well-being and not from illness. Ayurveda is not only for those who are sick or unhealthy, the preventive health system is for everyone who wants to feel vital and optimize their health.
And that is especially important in these times of COVID! Too often we are on the lookout for a magic medicine that will solve everything for us, but your health requires work, discipline, dedication and a proactive approach. Ayurveda offers many tools to boost your immune system to sustainably reclaim, maintain and / or optimize your health especially now. As long as we keep our agni (digestive fire) strong, then illness will not happen to us!
So the easiest way to save yourself from catching the coronavirus (besides of course social distancing, washing hands regularly and wearing your face mask when required!) is by keeping your immunity up and tight. According to ayurveda, there are lots of helpful ways to boost your immunity and keep infection risk at bay:
1. Eat healthy, be healthy
In general, Ayurvedic cooking means that you eat fresh meals prepared with care and attention at regular times. The intention is that you are consciously busy with food. Another important guideline is that lunch should be the largest meal of the day and breakfast the smallest. It is recommended to eat warm meals and regularly drink a glass of water that is not colder than the body temperature. Alcohol and coffee are not recommended. Ayurvedic healthy eating guidelines have a lot in common with the contemporary healthy eating guidelines: eating less sugar, fat and salt, paying attention to eating whole foods etc.
Here are some advice and tips regarding food and diet according to Ayurveda principles: https://www.spa-in-spain.com/blog1/2018/05/18/ayurvedic-diet-principles-explained/
2. Massage yourself every day
Touch is an important human need. Massage has a positive influence on hormone balance. The skin is the largest organ of the body; it produces naturally occurring anti-depressants, anti-cancer and anti-ageing substances and also hormones that improve circulation.
Self-massage, also called abhyagna in Ayurveda calms down the nervous system, reduces stress and supports your immunity. It is nourishing for body, mind and soul. A short massage of 5 minutes is sufficient, but 20-30 minutes is better. The massage is best performed in the morning, to support the energy levels throughout the day.
Here is how to do it: https://www.spa-in-spain.com/blog1/2020/04/07/self-massage-benefits/
Or for a shorter version, just do your feet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCUmXyV3t28&t=3s
3. Do some inversions (yoga)
Inverted yoga poses increase the circulation of the lymph. The lymphatic system is a complex system of fluid drainage and transport, and immune response and disease resistance. Fluid that is forced out of the bloodstream during normal circulation is filtered through lymph nodes to remove bacteria, abnormal cells and other matter.
When your head is below your heart – like in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) pose – the lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you come back to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph and sends it through your lymph nodes for cleansing.
4. Avoid cold, sweet and fried
In Ayurveda, good digestion or strong digestive fire plays a very important role in fighting diseases. You can add fresh ginger to your cooking or drink ginger tea. Mint tea, cinnamon tea, fennel tea and cardamom tea are also good suggestions or a regular chai made with tulsi (holy basil, one or two leaves). All of these herbal teas boost energy.
Try to avoid drinking or eating cold foods that reduce the digestive fire; no iced water, no iced cold beverages, no yogurt, cheese or ice cream. The cold foods will suppress your agni (digestive fire, digestive capacity) and exposure to cold will diminish your natural resistance. Heavy and fried foods are difficult to digest, so avoid these too. Enjoy sweet root vegetables, porridge, broths and soups.
5. Meditation to the rescue
Meditation plays an important role in Ayurveda. When you meditate, you’re taking the time to stop, breathe, and ground yourself in the present moment—which can have serious health benefits, including for your immune system. One of the biggest ways meditation can help boost your immune system is by lowering cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Too much stress leads to the body producing too much cortisol and when the body experiences stress for too long it becomes chronic, leading to an overactive production of cortisol which results in inflammation. The digestive system plays a large role in immunity. The ways meditation impacts the body (for example, by lowering stress hormones) can help support a healthy gut—which, in turn, can support a healthy immune system.
Meditation always sounds as something difficult to learn. But there are some very easy things to keep in mind when starting to meditate. Start to take a 20 minute break to just try this basic recipe for meditation and see for ourselves how we feel afterwards: https://www.spa-in-spain.com/blog1/2017/11/02/meditation-the-ideal-solution-for-stress/
6. Breath in… breath out… include Pranayama in your daily routine
In addition to supporting and deepening your yoga and meditation practice, learning ways to calm or invigorate the body through breathing will greatly benefit all aspects of your life. Breathing exercises can help you manage respiratory ailments, improve immunity, lower stress and enhance the quality of life. Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is considered as one of the best exercises for your lungs.
There are several different Pranayama Exercises. One powerful Pranayama breathing exercise you can do to boost your lungs and overall health is ¨Kapalabhati Pranayama¨.
This is how you do it:
- Start by sitting in a comfortable position.
- Keep your spine straight and close your eyes.
- Place your palms on your knees, facing up.
- Exhale completely.
- Inhale normally through the nostrils and exhale sharply, pulling your navel in toward your spine – allowing your belly to forcefully expel all the air from the diaphragm and lungs by compressing it.
- As you relax the navel and abdomen, your breath will flow into your lungs automatically.
- Try taking such 20 breaths to complete one round and relax without opening your eyes and feel the sensations in your body.
- You may do two more rounds of Kapalabhati Pranayama.
Beginners may start with just 2 minutes a day and gradually increase the practice with time.
Kapalbhathi is best done in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast, however, you can also do this breathing exercise 2 hours after your last meal.
A word of caution: Avoid this breathing technique if you suffer from high blood pressure, a heart ailment, epilepsy, backache due to slip disc, or recently had stomach surgery. Women should not practice kapalbhathi during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation.
According to Ayurveda, there are lots of helpful ways to boost your immunity and keep infection risk at bay. Making healthier lifestyle choices such as switching to a healthy & natural diet, practicing yoga and meditation, adding yogic breathing techniques and self massage to your daily routine in addition to always following the general WHO guidelines (practicing good hygiene and social distancing), will go a long way in staying healthy and so preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Stay good, stay healthy! Namaste 🙏
If you would like to learn more about the ayurvedic lifestyle and do something good for your health and immune system, an ayurveda cure at the Port Salvi Ayurveda Centre in Spain might be the perfect way: https://www.spa-in-spain.com/hotels-and-spas/hotel/port-salvi-ayurveda-hotel/