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Beat those winter bugs

Suuport your digestive and immune systems

Strong back bend

In the second of my festive posts, I’m going to look at a few ways to support our immune systems. How many times have you found yourself full of cold or with a tummy upset when you were looking forward to a break? This is a common phenomena when we finally unwind after a busy period, but there are simple steps we can take to fight those winter bugs. 

Let’s start with a few Ayurvedic lifestyle tweaks to help you stay healthy through the winter.

  1. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep. We talked about this in last week’s blog. It is so important for all our body systems including our immunity. Take your cue from nature, the dark nights encourage us to sleep more. Can you manage at least one early night a week?

  2. Wrap up warm. The body likes to be at a constant temperature, if you are too warm or too cold it has to work harder to stay at an optimum temperature, which in turn takes energy away from “non essential for survival” body systems, like our immune response.

  3. Eat well. Ditch cold and raw foods and drinks. Eat foods which are warming and nourishing. Now is the time for comfort food. Stews, soups, roasts, roots and warm puddings are on the winter menu.

  4. Have a massage. If you can’t get someone to massage you, then take time out to massage your feet before bed. Or massage yourself with a warmed natural oil, leave it to soak in for few minutes, before getting in the shower.

  5. Saunas and steam inhalations. Cold bugs can’t live in hot steamy conditions. Saunas are great at this time of year, and if you are fighting a cold try a steam inhalation, and remember my favourite, jala neti, salt water nasal washing, particularly useful if you’ve been with a germ spreader!

We’ve plenty of yoga practices to choose from to support your immune system.

  1. Get moving. A key part of our immunity is the lymphatic system, which relies on the movement of the body to circulate it, so all exercise will help your immune response. Lively activations and rounds of dynamic sun sequences are perfect.

  2. Include strong forward and backward bending movements. These open the chest, stimulate the thymus gland, help the lymphatic drainage points, as well as aiding your digestive system.

  3. The thymus gland produces cells which help to fight infection. Support it by opening the chest with postures like camel, bow, cobra, maltese cross, seated spinal twist and cow face.

  4. We have a lot of lymphatic tissue in our digestive system, so keep things moving smoothly in that area with any of the yoga mentioned above, and include some side stretches such as triangles.

  5. Relaxation. Mentioned earlier I know, but always worth repeating. A good yoga session should always finish with a relaxation. When the body is in stress mode it takes energy away from the immune system. Lying on your back will put you into relaxation response.

  6. Breathing. There are so many great pranayama practices to help support the immune system. Deep yogic breathing is always a winner, but if you are more familiar with pranayama, add in kappalbhati, bhastrika (bellows breath, we’ve been doing this a little bit in classes) or bhramari (humming bee breath). Ask your tutor if you’d like more information on these.

Do the yoga ground work now so that come Christmas and New Year you are on top form. Stay well. Ix

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