There was a meme going around facebook this time last year that went like this:
Cold and Flu is not a season.
It’s an inability to adapt due to decreased sun exposure and water intake combined with increased sugar intake and stress.
Create Resistance. Create Health
I don’t want to be cavalier, here. Colds and flus suck, and we can be doing everything “right” and still get hit hard. Everybody comes down with them from time to time, and the work out for our immune system, coupled with some good down time helps us to purge our system of unwanted toxicity, which in the long run might be a good thing.
But this meme is pointing out that we can learn to attend to the shifting needs of our organism as we transition seasons. We can adjust our diets and routines to support our immunity through these natural cycles and perhaps ward off this year’s bug. A bowl of salad in the summer can be wonderful, but that same cold, raw salad in the fall and winter can lead to constipation and bloating. A bowl of warm soup can nourish and warm us, and cooked with a little garlic or fresh ginger can support our respiratory passages and detoxify our blood too. A larger, heavier meal of nourishing foods eaten mid day is easier to digest than that same meal at night. Shifting to eating an earlier, lighter dinner, helps digestion as well as sleep and supports weight loss too.
When digestion is at par, we have more metabolic energy to support fighting those pathogens to which we are exposed. Sipping on hot water throughout the day, or hot ginger tea is an easy way to gently hydrate and detoxify as well as keeping us warm. Increasing our vitamin C intake and supplementing daily with an immune boosting formula are really helpful, as are avoiding sugar and having good stress-reducing routines and getting plenty of rest.
Diet, sleep and sex are the three pillars of health in ayurveda. Diet: what, how and when we eat. Sleep:deep and restful–(what we do before bed and when we go to sleep matters here). Sex: not too much, not too little (varies based on constitution, age, season), can be so healing when done with love and opening from our whole being not just our genitals. Includes any high quality, healing touch.
- What shift in your daily self-care is your body asking for now?
Yoga for Your Immune System
There is a wonderful, and potent practice we often do at the end of yoga class for a few minutes. The benefits of this pose increase when we schedule an extended time to practice, and the quieting effects on our nervous systems have tremendous benefit to the health of our immune systems. The pose is: yogic relaxation or shavasana. Ah, shavasana. Different than sleep, shavasana is a conscious process of connecting to the earth energy, and gradually letting go mentally and physically so that our bodies can take in the message that all is well. This message is powerfully communicated to every cell in our body, and so we leave the practice, restored and at peace; rested and uplifted.
Try adding shavasana into your daily routine.
How to Practice:
Pick a 25 minute period where you can lie down undisturbed. Turn off your cellphone. Set your timer and lie down on your back on a yoga mat or blanket. If you like, place a folded blanket under your head, or a blanket roll under your knees. If you have an eye pillow and like to use it, place it over your eyes. Alternately lie in constructive rest pose, knees bent, feet wide, knees resting together, hands resting comfortably on your lower belly. Wiggle around a little until you are really comfortable (you can substitute viparita karani–legs up the wall with pelvis elevated on a folded blanket for shavasana, too).
Begin by consciously feeling gravity, the pull of the earth underneath you. One teacher I know calls gravity the earth’s love for us, pulling us closer. Sense the energy of the earth, through the floor you are lying on. Feel all the parts of your body that are touching the floor and begin to relax there. Let your eyes relax, your ears, your mouth. If you have injuries in your body, or areas of chronic holding, give them a little extra attention and cue to let go now. Feel any tension in the body, and continue to invite it to let go into the earth below you. Allow your thoughts to settle. Pay attention to your breath. Feel the spaces between the breaths, and let your mind and body rest into those gaps. Let go completely. Continue to stay present to your breath, your body, allowing deeper and deeper layers of letting go. If you like, you can work with an affirmation such as: “all is well” or “I am whole” or anything you want to affirm. Let your body know you are safe and supported. Feel the support of the earth, the support of the moment. Simply be. If you fall asleep, it’s okay; you probably need the rest.
When your timer goes off, take your time coming back. If you like, dedicate the good effects of your practice to the wellbeing of another who could also use it.