Immunity is a most pressing matter on our minds. Whether you arrived at this article new to Ayurveda, or are familiar with its holistic approach having experienced our Ayurvedic winter cleanse, Ayurveda’s ancient lifestyle advice has much to offer modern-day wellbeing aims.
Here, our Ayurvedic Doctor explains how.
Ayurveda’s approach has always been one of prevention over cure. The focus is on ‘Ojas’ – the vital energy that governs immunity, strength and happiness; in simple terms, our ‘glow’. Rebuilding a reduced Ojas and keeping it resilient comes from nourishing it, primarily via dietary choices. Here, we present six simple, achievable and nutritive endeavours that Ayurveda suggests will make the biggest difference:
- START WELL \ Upon waking, drink warm water followed by a fresh ginger tea with a squeeze of lemon. This combination not only rehydrates, but it also awakens the digestive system, activating your ‘agni’ (digestive fire) while dispelling ‘ama’ (the build-up of toxins that can imbalance the Dosha and give rise to illness).
Incorporating particular deep breathing techniques into the morning routine can also help foster healthy heat in the body and optimise heart and lung function. If time permits, explore Kapalabhati or Bhastrika breathing exercises.
Triphala is an essential foundation of Ayurvedic lifestyle approaches. This powerful blend of Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amla has long been believed to offer many physical benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial actions as well as toxin elimination. It can also aid oral hygiene, which in turn helps strengthen nasal and respiratory passages. Therefore, before brushing teeth, mix one capsule of Triphala powder in a glass of hot water and gargle.
- REMAIN REPLENISHED \ Throughout the day, stay well hydrated with plenty of fresh, filtered water and these two renowned Ayurvedic herbal tea preparations:
Chyawanprash, the cornerstone of Ayurvedic preparation – a natural and vegan-friendly jam combining over 30 antioxidant and vitamin-rich fruits, herbs and spices. Its primary ingredient is Amla, one of the most potent sources of Vitamin C. Hence, Chyawanprash is used to help stimulate the immune system. Add one teaspoon of this sweet, spicy paste to hot water and drink mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Next, an infusion of two prized Ayurvedic plant extracts – Tulsi and Turmeric. Tulsi, known as Holy Basil, has long been used in Ayurveda to help strengthen the respiratory system and protect the lungs, while Turmeric, the Golden Herb, is best known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of each in one litre of water, bring to the boil, then sip over the course of the day.
- FEEDING FORTITUDE \ The age-old saying of ‘you are what you eat’ found its origins in Ayurveda. Yes, food is one of Ayurveda’s most important aspects and is used as medicine.
All types of nuts are highly proficient at nourishing Ojas and below are the most effective ones. Soak small handfuls overnight in water, remove shells and enjoy the following day on an empty stomach.
Almonds | help stimulate Ojas and eliminate excess heat from the body
Walnuts | help with imbalances in the nervous system
Cashews | help improve metabolism, boost digestive fire and eliminate toxins
Pistachios | help enhance the immune and intestinal systems
Raisins | help eliminate excess heat or inflammation from the body
Ayurveda also encourages consumption of warm foods to help boost circulation and eliminate toxins. (Cold foods – dairy, meat or fish – are all, therefore, ideally avoided). The kitchari mentioned in our Ayurvedic winter cleanse, is a perfect protein- and carbohydrate-rich preparation, with its nutritive and easily digestible combination of yellow mung dal, rice, spices and ghee. Indeed, if food is easily digested, no toxins form; immunity is boosted and the body can better fight back.
- MINDFUL MEALTIMES \ Ayurveda tells us that, if food is medicine, then how we eat is the process of how we heal. Not chewing properly gives rise to indigestion, so relax at mealtimes, eat slowly, enjoy food and the experience of consuming it.
- PRE-BED PREPARATION \ Consume your final meal at least 2-3 hours before you retire to bed to ensure the body has sufficient time to digest food. At around 9pm, take two Triphala capsules to aid intestinal digestion and toxin elimination.
- HOW THE HEAD HELPS \ Of course, Ojas isn’t only nourished by physical actions. If it isn’t also emotionally nurtured, immunity cannot reach its true potential:
Take time for yourself each day – walk in nature whether in a park or your own garden. Just 15 minutes of fresh air each day can make all the difference.
Value all your body gives you and show it love with self-massage – one of the best ways to stimulate Ojas. Take a look at marma point massage and aim to incorporate it into your pre-shower routine.
A final word
Lives have altered beyond compare this last year, the effects manifesting themselves in changes to how we sleep, eat, move and feel. Ayurveda’s approach may be very different to conventional cultural teachings, but millennia of use proves that this age-old holistic healing system really does have much to offer. As with any supplementation, of course, we always recommend you first consult an Ayurvedic practitioner or your doctor to ensure it best meets your needs.
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