Fight off seasonal afflictions with Ayurvedic wisdom. Hint: You’ll be utilizing emotional healing, breathwork, and delicious recipes.
I was sitting in class the other day and coughing incessantly. (Fortunately, this was a virtual class.) One of my mentors, someone trained in Western medicine, as well as Ayurveda, asked me, “What’s going on with your respiratory health?”
I felt confused, “I don’t know. It’s congestion and a lot of coughing.” Didn't it seem obvious?
“You realize that your throat and heart chakra aren’t functioning optimally?” I hadn't connected the two; she offered me a perspective rooted in evidence-based medicine, complemented by spirituality.
I almost never catch a cold or cough. I certainly have my own health challenges, but congestion or stuffy sinuses haven’t been on that list since I was a teenager. But in the past eight months, this was the third time I had woken up to a sore throat, cold, sniffles, headache, and full-blown congestion. Something was up!
November 2022: I was in India to attend an internship in an Ayurvedic hospital as part of my doctoral journey. I spent a few days with my dad, and a day or two before I headed to the hospital in another city, I got sick. In May 2023, on the drive from Mumbai to the hospital in Pune where my dad was fighting for his life, my throat started to feel scratchy. By that evening, I started to get a bout of cold and cough. Fast forward to 50 days after my father passed away, I was struggling with a cold and cough once again. A wet cough and congestion are signs of imbalanced Kapha dosha. Aggravation of Kapha dosha can also show up as excessive attachment and withdrawal. I was and will always be my daddy’s girl.
I understood immediately that even before I resorted to Ayurvedic healing modalities and home remedies, I needed to do some inner work and unblock my heart and throat chakras.
The Connection Between Health and the Chakras
The Sanskrit term for the heart chakra, Anahata, roughly translates as “unhurt.” It is considered the bridge between the three lower chakras (the root, sacral, and solar plexus) and the three upper chakras (the throat, third eye, and crown). The heart chakra is all about supporting unconditional love, trust, depth in relationships, fearlessness, forgiveness, and generosity. It’s an individual’s inner compass for setting healthy boundaries.
The throat chakra, which is the fifth chakra, is all about supporting communication, leaning into your intuition, and speaking your inner truth. The thymus gland is situated between the throat and heart chakra, and it is responsible for immunity. Its energy helps the immune system, aids in forgiveness, and releases fear.
Ayurveda teaches us that the disease process begins with disturbances in the balance of the doshas. It also reminds us that mind, body, and consciousness are connected, and that diseases begin with the manas, or the mind.
Acknowledge Your Emotions in Order to Heal
Grief will bring up an array of feelings. Sometimes there is attachment, and other times, righteous anger. My father was one of the most active and generous human beings I knew. Then one day he wasn’t. I felt anger for him when I saw him in pain. We are conditioned to applaud joy, empathize with grief, but label anger and judge it.
With a trusted few, I started talking about what was hurting me, aside from the sudden loss of my father (and father-in-law, whose passing was two days after that of my own father). I wrote and wrote because that’s how I navigate my world. At first, it hurt, but then eventually I started to heal. Letting go. What we resist, persists. I cried and bawled my eyes out on some days. In my “do-er” mode, I had barely cried for my dad or my newly acquired title of middle-aged orphan. The discharge from my nose was more than phlegm, and my eyes released more than just tears, both bringing with them deep emotional release.
Four Ayurvedic Tips to Support Healing From Cold and Cough
Practice Bhastrika Pranayama
I didn’t miss a single day of Bhastrika pranayama for about 10 days when I fell sick. I would sit with a box of tissues and would feel so much lighter as the Kapha (mucus) left my sinuses. This pranayama creates heat in the lungs and the rest of the body and is great for lessening wet cough and removing blockages from the chest. If you are new to this pranayama, here is what I would recommend:
Sit in Sukhasana (cross-legged position) with your spine straight. Take a few deep breaths. Your hands can rest on your thighs. In this pranayama, maintain a forceful, rapid rate of exhalation and inhalation, which is what expands the lungs and gives a boost of energy to the body. Do this 11 times and take a break for 45 seconds and breathe normally. Repeat three times. Anyone with high blood pressure or cardiac problems should avoid this pranayama. Also avoid this pranayama if you are pregnant or menstruating.
Take Honey as Medicine
Ayurvedic texts will tell you that honey is highly beneficial for respiratory health and the nourishment of the lungs. Honey is sweet in nature, and sweet taste in Ayurveda is associated with love, kindness, and compassion. It works on an energetic level, as well as a medicinal level. Honey acts as a carrier for other healing herbs and spices. Because it’s warming in nature, honey is Ayurveda’s go-to for Kapha issues. My two favorite honey-based home remedies are simple and enjoyable to take:
Mix 1 tsp of ginger juice with 1/4 tsp honey and drink it 2-3 times a day, or
Mix 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder with 1 tsp honey. Consume twice a day.
Use Salt and Turmeric as Throat Healers
Twice a day, mix 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle well. While turmeric is anti-inflammatory, salt is an expectorant, which helps release mucus and soothe the throat.
My mother would give us this Ayurvedic drink, served hot, every time my brother and I were sick. Kadha is a simple home remedy that works like magic for all age groups. Combine 1 clove, 4-5 tulsi leaves, and 1 tsp coarsely crushed black pepper powder in a pan and roast them for 15 seconds. Add 1 tsp freshly grated ginger to the pan. Roast for 15 more seconds. Add 2 cups of water to this mixture and cook on a medium flame for 5-7 minutes. Keep stirring continuously and pour the strained liquid into a mug. Secret: My mother would add just a little mishri or rock sugar to this warm beverage to sweeten the taste for me. Add very tiny amounts of mishri, as it increases Kapha dosha.
Side note: I typically only drink warm water. Sipping on warm water can be helpful to soothe a sore throat, as well as to send those bugs away. Also, avoid dairy because cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and gelato will manufacture more mucus.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner, contact Sweta here.