Ayurveda’s Holistic Approach to Immunity: Three Vital Practices to Support and Protect Your Health

With all the concerns about the spread of coronavirus, I’m seeing a lot of helpful tips about washing hands, not touching your face, not traveling unless it’s necessary, etc. 

What I’ve found missing from this prescription, however, is attention to how our minds and emotions are inextricably linked with our immune system.

Did you know that patterns of pessimism, worry, fearfulness, resentment or anger, for example, create a stress pattern in the body which depletes the immune system? 

Of course, we can’t feel joyful and optimistic in every moment, but if your tendency is to worry, think the worst, or you find yourself currently holding a grudge or harboring anger, now is a great time to take actions to create a new pattern (perhaps the coronavirus is  nature’s way of insisting we do so).

Here are 3 ways you can create new and more positive patterns for your mental and emotional well-being, and ultimately strengthen your immunity. 

1. Have a daily gratitude practice. Numerous studies have shown that taking time each day to give gratitude for what we have has profound effects on all aspects of our health: physical, mental and emotional.

To start your own practice, choose a specific time of day (I like to do mine every night before I go to bed), and think of at least one thing you’re feeling grateful for that day. It can be ANYTHING! Then allow yourself to really feel how into this gratitude. Be with this feeling for at least a full 10 seconds. Notice how it feels in your body. Sweet, you’re done for the day.


If you want more tips on how to create your gratitude practice, or if you struggle with creating/maintaining a practice, check out the tips and practices in the Gratitude section of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Gratitude practices. Check it out, it’s free!

2. Develop your sense of self-compassion. Our culture breeds a sense of I-am-not-enoughness among us, and it leads many people to some seriously negative self-talk. Often this behavior is mistaken as a form of self-discipline. But as Kristin Neff points out in her book Self-Compassion, this kind of self-criticism actually triggers the flight or fight response in the nervous system. In other words, our own negativity towards ourselves is seen as a threat! As a result, stress hormones increase in the body, as well as blood pressure and adrenaline, which will deplete the body’s ability to respond to another threat like, you guessed it, coronavirus. 

So where to begin with developing this practice of self-compassion? Awareness is key. Notice how you talk to yourself. Would you say those things to a friend? If not, ask yourself, what would you say to them? Connect with your compassion and then offer those same words of care to yourself. And remember, this is a new skill you’re developing. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work on it. 


3. Have a daily breath or meditation practice.  It’s not news that breath and meditation are some of the best tools for surviving and thriving in our fast-paced culture. In fact, I’d say these tools are essential. Particularly because of their effects on calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and consequently strengthening our ability to fight pathogens like the coronavirus.

And if the word “meditation” causes you anxiety, don’t sweat it. Start instead with a simple daily breath practice. Here’s how:

First, decide on a good time of day to set aside one-two minutes for your practice. This may take a few tries to find a time that works best for you. Then set a time for one minute (you can increase this time as you build your practice). During this minute, take some slow, deeper breaths. Keep your attention on your breath as you do this. Notice the sensation of the breath as it moves in and out of the body. Notice the parts of your body that move as you breathe. If your mind wanders, that’s ok. Just gently bring it back to your breath.

When the timer goes off, take a moment to notice how you feel and appreciate this moment you gave to yourself for healing and restoring the body, mind and spirit. And you’re done. 

Want more tips on starting a breath practice, or want to learn different breath techniques? check out the tips and practices in the Breath Practices section of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Breath Practices. Check it out, it’s free!

Wishing you resilient health and ease this spring and all your days!

Introducing: THRIVE HIVE

Today I’m excited to introduce to you: THE THRIVE HIVE!

What is the THRIVE HIVE?

A quick overview:

First and foremost,THRIVE HIVE is an online wellness community that is NOT connected to social media outlets. That means: no advertisers, no distractions, no drama, no spying, no tracking of what you say, do or click on while in this private community. Just a space where you can focus on bringing healthier habits into your life while getting practical tips, peer support and professional coaching. Currently, membership to this community is free! And as long as you join while it’s free, you will not have to pay for membership ever. 😍

In the THRIVE HIVE we will take tiny steps towards learning and adopting healthier habits. We will overcome obstacles, mess up, try again, get smarter, cheer people on, collaborate, and share our experiences to help each other grow. 

We will build confidence,change limiting beliefs, laugh, possibly cry, and in the process we will become healthier, happier versions of ourselves, realize more of our potential, and live more fulfilling and joyous lives.

Sound too good to be true? Do not doubt the magic that can happen in a hive! 

I’ll be revealing more details about THRIVE HIVE in the coming weeks, but it you want to get the full scoop, sign up for my email list.

Doors open September 3rd, with an official launch on September 9th.  Mark your calendars!

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 1

merry body forest

Part 1: Merry Body

While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my body stays merry and bright!

BODY:

Follow all of the feasting recommendations, but especially staying hydrated!

Get to bed by 10pm. Our bodies go through natural detoxing and rejuvenating processes starting at 10pm. To make sure I feel merry and bright in the morning, it’s important to be asleep by this time so that my body can focus on these revitalizing activities.

Calming bedtime rituals: With all the excitement, it’s important to help our body wind down before we go to bed so that we can get a deeper, more restorative sleep. My favorite bedtime ritual is to oil my feet before bed with warm oil (organic unrefined sesame, sunflower or almond oil is best).

Daily morning movement. Whether it’s a walk, a little yoga or qigong, if I make time for 20 minutes of movement before I eat breakfast, my body, my digestion, my energy levels are feeling pretty merry all day long. So no matter where I spend the holiday, I find a way to keep this practice as consistent as possible. If it means I have to shorten it to 10 minutes on some days, I’m ok with that. Doing some of the practice is better than not doing it at all.

How will you keep your body merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.

Coming up next:

How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 2 and Part 3

Design Your Holidays: How to Get What You Really Want, Part 2

 

compass

Now that you’ve got your Guiding Light Statement, let’s create a plan that will move you closer to it. Below is an exercise to create action plans to help you map the way forward.

Same instructions here as in Part 1:

I recommend brewing a cup of your favorite herbal tea and setting aside 45 – 60 minutes to journal about the questions.

And if you don’t have the time right now for this exercise, open up your calendar and find the time within the next few days to do this for yourself. Set a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Don’t forget to read my important message at the end of this article. 

Part 2: Action Plans

  1. Think about a time when you’ve experienced one or more or all of the things you wrote in your Guiding Light Statement. What was happening? Who were you with? What did you do or what qualities do you possess that caused this to happen? Were there any preparations or organization that helped? What made it possible?
  2. What challenges or obstacles might prevent you from having this experience this holiday season? Who or what might have a different opinion about/effect on how your holidays should go?
  3. So you have an idea of what might get in the way (#2). And an idea of how you pulled this off before (#1). Ask yourself, how can your knowledge and experience from past success help you work through any challenges that may arise? What qualities do you possess that will help you move towards what you want? Who can you turn to for support? What practices or techniques will aid you? You might even make a list of who/what won’t support you in this endeavor. Sometimes we look for support in all the wrong places. Let’s get clear on who or what can really support us and not place unrealistic expectations on those that can’t/won’t.
  4. For each challenge listed in #2, come up with an action plan based on your answers in #3 to help you move beyond that challenge. As part of your action plan, get as specific as you can about details like where, when, how often, with whom, etc.

Here are a few examples of action plans:

I am going to make a gift giving plan so that I am not doing all my shopping that week before Christmas when nothing is left or sizing is all wrong and I’m just getting whatever I can so there’s a gift under the tree. I will make this gift giving plan on Nov. 15th @ 9am, and will plan to have all of my shopping completed by Dec. 2nd.

I am going to let my family know that it’s important to me to have an earlier, lighter dinner by around 6pm. If they are not able to accommodate me, I will make my own dinners and eat by 6pm and then have tea with them while they are eating at least 5 of the 7 nights I will be with my family. Those two exceptions will be on Christmas night and the first night I arrive.

I will keep up my daily morning exercise and meditation routine 6 out of 7 mornings I am gone and will ask my husband to join me and keep me accountable.

I will limit my alcohol intake to 3 glasses of wine per week. I will let my family know when I am planning to have those glasses so that they don’t bother to ask me every night if I’m having wine with dinner.

I would love to hear your action plan!! Feel free to post your plan(s) on Facebook or Instagram (and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness). Or you can email me and share what actions you’re going to take this season!

IMPORTANT: Our patterns during the holidays run deep and we are surrounded by people who expect us to follow those patterns. So if at first you don’t succeed with your action plans, don’t despair or be too hard on yourself. This defeats the purpose. Instead, pat yourself on the back for taking these initial steps to creating a better holiday season. This is a great gift to yourself and those around you. Learn what you can this year so you can think about how to improve your action plan for more holiday cheer next year.