Prioritizing your immune health is more important now than ever. As you strengthen you immune system’s foundation, your body’s ability to handle unexpected illnesses will be much greater.
In traditional Ayurveda, there is great emphasis on consciousness and the role it plays in healing. Our consciousness, that is our connection to the life force energy, vibrates at a certain frequency. The more connected we are, the higher our frequency. Ayurveda teaches us that lower frequencies play a crucial role in suppressing our immune system and creating the fertile ground for disease to manifest.
There are many things you can do right now to raise your vibration and support your mind and body during these unprecedented times. It is more important than ever that we should all be practicing awareness and good hygiene such as washing your hands with warm soap and water often, social distancing and covering your mouth/nose with a tissue or your elbow anytime you sneeze or cough.
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a series of articles on ways you can support your immune health through powerful daily rituals, lifestyle practices, dietary recommendations and more. In the meantime, you can check out our older articles to help naturally boost your immune system.
Today’s article will focus on simple yet powerful natural ways to boost your immune system - mind, body and spirit.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, meditation is one of the most powerful ways to raise your vibration, increase consciousness and improve overall health. From a scientific perspective, studies on the benefits of meditation have shown that it may be effective in improving blood pressure, sleep issues, IBS, pain, stress, depression, anxiety, memory loss and increasing focus, self-awareness and compassion. Regular meditators have been shown to have increased telomere activity. Telomeres have been linked to increasing the lifespan of cells - therefore increasing longevity.
There are many types of meditation techniques, each with their own benefits. If you are interested in beginning a meditation practice, one of our teachers, Dr. Paul Dugliss, M.D. is teaching a free virtual course on Heart Based Meditation this Saturday, March 28, 2020. You can find out more and sign up here: https://www.heartbasedmeditation.com/. We highly recommend it.
In an ideal world, we would all be waking up with the sun and settling into bed once the sun goes down. Living in tune with the natural rhythms of nature helps to regulate our own circadian rhythms and maintain health. However, most people these days stay up way too late, stare at screens until right before their eyes close and don’t get enough sleep.
In Ayurveda, there are four pillars of health – Digestion, Elimination, Menstruation and Sleep. Without proper sleep, our bodies don’t have the time to rest, recover and rejuvenate. There is a reason why you feel so tired when you are under the weather. It is your body begging you to sleep so it can do its job and get you well. It truly is one of the most important things to focus on when you’re feeling ill. Try to get into a regular sleep and wake schedule, ideally getting to bed no later than 10pm and making sure to get 6-8 hours of sleep. If you are ill, remember that you may need more shut eye than normal. If it’s difficult to get the recommended hours of sleep, including 10-20 minute meditation sessions a few times throughout the day can help to give your body the much needed rest it needs.
Here are a few things you can also try if you are having trouble sleeping. According to Ayurveda, sleep disturbances are typically a sign of aggravated Vata and Pitta doshas. Excess mental or physical exertion can disrupt sleep. To support this kapha time of the night, try the following tips:
- If you tend to get hot or wake up in a sweat at night, sleep in a cooler room
- Practice a nightly self-oil massage, known as abhyanga
- Reduce alcohol and sugar consumption as these are very vata aggravating
- Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Limit coffee intake and no caffeine after 2pm
- Begin a daily meditation practice
- Try journaling before bed to put any ruminating thoughts onto paper and out of you mind
- Try a relaxing tea before bed such as camomile or sleepy time tea
- Include more warm, cooked foods in you diet instead of too much cold, raw food
- Reduce screen time and turn off computers, TV’s and phones at least 3 hours before bed. Consider reading a book or doing some light stretching instead!
- Take a warm epsom salt bath. Adding some lavender essential oil is great too!
- Consider using blackout curtains or an eye mask to keep out light
Love is considered to be the highest vibration. The more we can live our lives from a place of compassion, forgiveness and understanding, the better for our health and the health of those around us. Positivity is contagious! This doesn’t mean you can never be angry or sad, but focusing on those emotions for long periods of time will only bring your immune system down. Instead, try these natural ways to boost your immune system:
- Surround yourself with people that make you feel good
- Listen to relaxing and uplifting music
- Avoid too much news or serious television/movies
- Learn a new hobby or skill
- Volunteer or donate to a charity
- Spend more time in nature
- Begin a daily meditation practice
- Start a gratitude journal
Ask any pro-athlete and chances are they have practiced visualization in some way to improve their skills and mindset. Visualization has also been shown to reduce negative energy, increase confidence, boost creativity, and decrease blood pressure and inflammation.
In addition, studies have shown that people who visualize eating healthier, working out, keeping calm in the face of difficult situations and even healing, have been more successful at completing those tasks than those that did not. The point here is to understand that there is a profound connection between the mind and the body.
In 1975, the term "psychoneuroimmunology" was coined by psychologist Robert Ader and Immunologist Nicolas Cohen, which describes the impact that the mind has on stimulating the immune response. The research that has been done since then has revealed that the mind's reaction to stress can impair immunity and promote illness, while techniques such as visualization can support the immune system in better fighting disease.1
There are tons of free guided visualizations focused on supporting immunity available on the web. Try a few out and see which one(s) resonate with you. Then consider setting aside some time each day to do it.
This powerful yogic controlled breathwork practice has been used for thousands of years because of its immense benefits on the mind and body. “Prana” means life force and ‘ayama” means extension. It is seen as a means to prolong health and longevity in the yogic and Ayurvedic traditions. Kumbhaka or breath retention is seen as the most important aspect of pranayama. A study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that holding the breath increased immune fighting white blood cells and even changed their genetic activity.4
There are many different techniques of pranayama, each with their own benefits including weight loss, detoxification, stress reduction, clearer skin, better digestion, improved sleep, respiratory support and stronger immunity.2 ,3
Here is a simple immune supporting pranayama practice you can start with today:
For respiratory specific pranayama, the Ujjayi Pranayama is great. However it is not recommended for pregnant women or those that have chronic migraines or heart conditions.
In next week’s newsletter, we will share some helpful dietary recommendations including foods and herbal supplements that will keep your immune system strong.