Ayurveda to Boost Your Immunity
Ayurvedic wisdom teaches us that we’re part of the natural world. So, to stay healthy, we must remain in harmony with nature by adopting a lifestyle balancing of the elements most present outside. When we’re in harmony, our digestive fires are strong, we’re releasing physical and mental toxins efficiently, and we rarely get sick.
To maintain this natural balance and stay well this season, try the following Ayurvedic recommendations.
Food and Drink
To balance the cold and dry nature of the season, we need to eat warm, wet, and nourishing foods and avoid those that promote cooling and drying within the body.
Home-cooked soups, stews, and porridges are best, made from hearty seasonal vegetables like carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, kale, and Brussels sprouts (adapt ingredients to your specific dosha or dosha imbalance).
When cooking, use spices that are known to boost your internal fire and aid in digestion. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, black pepper, ginger, and fennel can be combined and sprinkled on nearly everything.
A simple tea made with fresh grated ginger, lemon, and honey (optional) is a wonderful way to prevent illness and both soothe the body and kickstart your immune system. Regularly sip on warm water with lemon or lime throughout the day as well.
When you need extra something extra cozy, pour yourself a cup of golden milk (heated water and cow’s milk or a plant-based substitute) with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
Avoid cold drinks and anything iced (again, remember to take in the opposite of what’s present outside). It’s also important to avoid anything too heavy, sweet, or fatty this time of year as kapha is naturally high and most of us are prone to develop an imbalance if we consume too many kapha-inducing foods like this.
In addition to following a dinacharya routine that keeps us aligned with the cosmic rhythm, we should prioritize loving self-care that reduces excess vata and kapha.
The most important practice for the season is abhyanga, a 15 minute self-massage with sesame or sunflower oil done daily before your bath or shower. If you’re trying to reduce kapha, alternate one day darshana, or dry-skin brushing, with one day of abhyanga.
Warm baths with drops of lavender, rosemary, or juniper essential oils will heat and calm the body and help remove toxins through the skin, brought to the surface through the self-massage.
Using a neti pot will keep the sinuses clear, and using nasya oil in the nose will also prevent many kapha-disorders such as head colds, chest congestion, and bronchitis.
Exercise, Yoga and Pranayama
Avoid spending your winter days indoors and make it a goal to sweat each day — staying active is key to maintaining a strong internal fire. Go for a brisk walk or hike outside or heat up your yoga practice in a warm room with invigorating sequences appropriate for your body.
If you do become sick, try to increase your circulation to encourage the movement of white blood cells and lymph fluid by opening the chest, sides, and throat with the following yoga postures.
- Cat and Cow Poses: improves circulation and relieves chest congestion
- Cobra, Upward-facing dog, Bridge, Bow and Fish poses: stimulates thymus gland and improves your immune response
- Gate pose, Exalted warrior pose: Stimulates spleen and lymph nodes through opening the side body and stretching under the arms
- Sun salutations, Downward-facing dog, Shoulder stand and Legs-up-the-wall poses improves circulation, moves white blood cells and lymph fluid (avoid these postures when severely congested)
- Child's pose and Savasana: restorative postures to calm the nervous system and give deep rest to the body. A key addition to any yoga practice, regardless if you’re feeling ill or not!