Now for the second reason why I've decided to write a blog about my experience with COVID 19: the practices and remedies that I feel were pivotal in my recovery. In the first few days, when my energy levels were low, I didn't have much motivation to do an actual physical yoga practice. However, I continued with pranayama (breathing) and meditation. There are two majorly important pranayama practices that help increase immunity - Kapalabhati and Bhastrika. Incorporating one, or both, into your daily routine will go a long way in maintaining strong immunity and disease prevention. Both practices are great for helping clear toxins out of the body and work by increasing enzyme activity and improving digestion. These practices are also good for respiratory health and respiratory disease prevention as well as improving symptoms of asthma over time.
Modern research confirms what ancient science of Ayurveda has said all along - our immunity starts in the gut. I will go even further than that here and state that our mental health is also intrinsically linked to our digestive health - it's a fact. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your digestion is strong and balanced. Talking about balance, another powerful practice that you should include into your every day routine is Nadi Shodhana (alternative nostril breathing). It works by clearing and releasing toxins in the body, calming the nervous system and balancing the nadis. Without going too deep into yogic anatomy, nadis are channels through which energy (prana) flows. Blockages in these channels cause disease - mental as well as physical, and if not addressed in time will lead to more serious conditions like cancer.
Starting your day by drinking hot water with lemon and ginger is one of the most simplest and beneficial steps you can take to improve your digestion and health today. In fact, by stopping consumption of cold water, and not adding ice to your beverages, you will improve the way you feel immediately. The same goes for cold and uncooked foods, especially in winter. Even if you are putting together a salad, it is better to lightly pre-cook your ingredients, helping your body to digest faster and better.
Ayurveda says that all food can be used as medicine and this includes herbs and spices. By combining spices in certain proportions, and in specific ways, you can create your own home remedies which are just as effective, if not more so, than over the counter medicines. Increase your metabolism by making a detox tea. Add 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds + 1/2 tsp peppercorns, 3 cloves, 4 slices of fresh ginger and 1 cinnamon chard to a pan filled with 1 litre of hot boiled water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add to thermos and drink throughout the day.
If you are experiencing fever or flu like symptoms, make coriander and ginger tea by adding 3 tsp of coriander seeds and 3 slices of ginger to a bowl filled with 750ml of freshly boiled water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Drink this hot tea 3 times per day until the symptoms subside, making a fresh batch every day. Be aware that both of the above remedies will cause increase frequency of urination, as your body begins to eliminate toxins from the urinary tract. The coriander and ginger tea may also cause sweating, assisting the body in killing pathogens and reducing the body temperature.
Ginger is a great for colds and flu. It is rich with antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial in the treatment of many ailments and diseases. Go to my Ginger Immunity Support Elixir blog and follow the recipe to make this amazing remedy that will stimulate your digestion, prevent disease and help reduce symptoms of cold and flu.
If you are unwell and struggling with blocked sinuses, then daily inhalation with essential oils like peppermint and/or eucalyptus will help relieve the symptoms. Just add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, place your face over the bowl (careful not to burn yourself) and cover your head with a towel. Do this for around 10-20 minutes, or until there is no more steam coming from the water, 2-3 times per day. For prevention, not when you are ill, use neti pot daily to keep your sinuses clear - add 1 tsp of natural salt to 500ml of warm water.
Mustard foot baths are amazing for helping relieve congestion and improve circulation. They help detoxify the body by releasing toxins through sweat and the skin. Here is how to do it: add 2 teaspoons of mustard powder, 3 tablespoons of epsom salts, 2 drops lavender essential oil, 2 drops of eucalyptus oil and 2 drops of rosemary oil to a bowl filled with 3-4 litres of hot water. Soak your feet in this solution for 20 minutes. Top with more hot water as necessary. Cover your legs with a blanket as you do this to keep the heat in. You can buy mustard seeds in any good supermarket these days. Grind the seeds in pestle and mortar or use a spice grinder. I suggest grinding a batch and storing it in a jar in your kitchen cupboard so you can easily and quickly soak your feet on a daily basis when ill. The best time for foot bath therapy is just before bed. Put woolly socks on and leave them on overnight afterwards.
Lastly, make sure you eat a simple diet. I recommend kitchari or mung bean soup because the mung beans are easy on digestion. If you are unwell, make sure you eat small portions of only hot/warm food and drink plenty of hot fluids throughout the day. A good vegetable potassium broth is a must in my opinion and it really helped us regain our energy when we were ill. Potassium is one of the major essential electrolytes that we need in sufficient amounts. It is a mineral that is depleted by stress and I see so many of the people that I work with very deficient in this mineral. Symptoms of low potassium include fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and constipation. Potassium broth is often used during cleanses or at a time of rejuvenation because of all the amazing benefits it provides. It's hydrating, alkalizing, immune boosting and helps to flush your body of any retained water.
Potassium broth is very easy to make and I use the recipe from the Gerson Institute, where it goes by the name of Hippocrates Soup. All you need is 3-4 stalks of celery, 2-3 garlic cloves, 2 small leeks (or two medium onions), 4-5 medium potatoes, 2 medium beetroots, 2 small carrots and 1 bunch of parsley. You can also add 500g tomatoes but I didn't. One very important point - make sure that you use organic vegetables to get maximum benefit and do not peel them. Wash and scrub your vegetables well and then roughly chop and add to the pot together with 3-4 litres of water. Simmer for 2 hours. Add fresh parsley in the last 10 minutes of cooking. When cooked, you can either put the soup through a sieve, discarding the fibers or strain the liquid and mash the vegetables to eat afterwards. I strained the liquid, which we drank like tea, and then mashed vegetables for dinner and fried them with garlic and digestive spices like cumin, coriander and mustard seeds. You can keep this soup in the fridge for two days.
Use organic produce whenever possible. I really can not stress enough the importance of eating organic, not only for nutritional purposes but to get as much energy as possible out of your food. Years ago, whilst studying to become a yoga teacher, I wrote my end of course dissertation/final project on the subject of prana (life force). What I discovered through my research was fascinating and life changing and I have been eating organic ever since. Some of you may say 'Oh, but it's too expensive'. My answer to you is this - what can be more precious than your health? Your health is your greatest investment and your true wealth so start investing in it right now!
I believe that prevention is the best way to deal with any illness. Here are my tips on how to stay healthy in 2021 (in addition to remedies) - stay positive; chose information you absorb carefully; pay attention to how you breathe and relax often; eat organic; consume a simple diet; spend time in nature and; most of all, allow yourself to take a break and feel the love.