Is it true that yogic lifestyle boosts the immune system? What is a yogic lifestyle? Does it mean Ashtanga practice everyday except moon days – or – does it mean hot yoga every other day to sweat out the toxins or … meditation practice every morning? Is that yogic enough? What is yoga off and and on the mat? A starter would be to increase the energy/prana level so one is not so tired; yes, to be wakeful and then boost the immune system by self-care protocols.
Around me I hear reports of friends I have lapsed communication with only to find out they are suffering from influenza or shingles or general winter malaise – it’s Spring you all – let’s get healthy and smell the roses. I am reminded of myself from couple of years ago when I did survive shingles and flues and other ailments I have healed from. With self-care that’s not so much about pampering but self-empowerment and self-study.
There are viruses and bacteria all around us. We live within and among them and either affected by them or … not so much. Some are harmless, some are even good, and some, can knock us out. This happens when your immune system is compromised due to:
- lack of appropriate amount and quality of rest. Lack of restful sleep.
- lack of nourishing foods.
- Over-extending oneself either in exercise or meeting many demands.
- Lack of stress management.
Seems simple enough right? Just get more sleep, eat better and don’t be stressed or deal with stress better. Yet, it’s not so simple or easy because we are complex beings with varied needs and desires.
It’s a bit difficult to rest well when your mind is racing with thoughts, usually negative or toxic thoughts. It can be the emotions, the feelings that bring on either various comforts or … discomforts; some downright, heartbreaking or … heartwarming. We are so blessed with a lovely wide range within the spectrum from darkness, dimness to light and brightness.
Then the nourishment … life sustaining oxygen that we breathe in and … the foods we eat.
It’s a bit difficult to eat well when your demanding schedule pulls you into temptations to eat quick, fast and junky foods.
It’s hard not to get stressed over … work, family, commute, illnesses, money … how to check off all those items off the TO DO list to deal with all the above.
Then there’s the notion that there’s not enough time; we lost time; an hour over the weekend, how are we ever going to get things done on that TO DO list now with shortchanged time? These toxic thoughts of negativity persists.
Make a break. Here are the suggestions:
- First find 20 minutes a day to go into this state called Pratyhara – the best explanation can be had from my teacher of teachers, here.
- To emphasize the #1 – we don’t need all the information overload nor social media that clutters our mind. Positive social media that directs us to unite and cooperate for righteous aim is energizing in a healthy way but negative ones that slander, that separates and divides people into enemy camps… not so healthy. Stay away.
- If we don’t have a moment to spare and full blown out 90 minutes restorative yoga class sounds impossible – find a teacher who incorporates the #1 whether it be in gentle yoga or yin class. Time is pliable. Make the time. We can MAKE time.
- The above are mostly past noon or evening practices.
- During the day, should you have 2 hours commute, 8 plus work-day and a young or old family to feed and clothes, chances are that you don’t have time to be checking into a yoga class – but whenever possible perhaps lunch time, walk in nature, eat nourishing lunch away from the hustle and bustle – find some sanctuary. Find your own self-care time, time just for you.
- Detox & Cleanse: I am not talking about becoming vegetarian or vegan. This is most important – stay away from toxic people – unless you have decided to become a monk or a nun, trained to master the methodology to help without sacrificing your own mental health. If you are not able to truly give and serve those who suffer, at least, be kind enough to admit that and not let your own ego to save people get in the way of giving them the real help. Give them space to find their own way. Point out the resources they can seek out on their own. They can find their “cup of tea” themselves with freedom to explore. You don’t have to be their cup of tea (of a glass of wine:). You are doing them a favor as then, they will no longer be dependent on others, be able to find courage to go out and find their path, unencumbered by others’ value system. Just empower them to find their own solutions; they are so capable.
- We know the vibes toxic people emit and the vibes we need to either avoid, deflect or change. They tend to sap you of your own energy by becoming all consumed in negative vibes, complaining, judgmental, rigid in their thinking and so … you don’t want to entangle in their dramas. Just let them vent and find the generous heart to accept them lovingly but need not spend another moment with them. They need to work things out on their own. Giving advice usually backfires. Or misunderstood. Of course, this is not possible if you are a therapist, counselor, those who work with those feeling in the “rut”. Then truly be present with the client, empathized to the 100% level to fully be present with them and accept them as they are with no judgement … just be kind … then … let go. Use rituals that work for you so that the negativity does not find lodging within you.
- The opposite – find positive, joyful people. Or at least those who are just … honest. Those who might be under great suffering but bravely charging on. Someone who inspires you. Someone who knows what it is to suffer and what it means to be kind and compassionate. For me, I usually enjoy a company of someone a bit older than me – someone who has walked the walk and explored the unknown. If not someone one can learn from, just someone who feels cozy and comfortable. Someone you don’t need to prove your worth to. Someone to laugh with and exchange smiles with. Someone adoringly cute if young and if older, their wisdom touches you and relieves you.
- Back to getting to a place beyond the #1, the Pratyhara. Allocate even just 5-10 minutes of time to focus on one’s breath and sensations – in an effort to clear the mind to find better focus. Truly embody your own body rather than be on the fringes or denying it. Find full and complete acceptance of your body, mind and … feelings. You can call this meditation. Light or deep, let that time to befriend your own breath, serve you.
- EAT SOMETHING REALLY YUMMY ! Something delicious but healthy. It need not be yogurt and granola with fruits but something very substantial and embedded with PRANA – life force. Thank the chef, the cookbook, whoever taught you how to cook for your talents today in food prep, or the farmer, the fisherman, the rancher – whoever sourced this food and prepared it for your appreciative pallet.
- Find gratitude. Gratitude. Begin by what you find dear to you; family? friends? What if you have none? Then dig deeper to find what you love, what gives you sense of worth, what gives you sense of hope and renewal? Keep going and thank each. Find one thing or person to thank a day at the end of the day before you turn in. If you have quite a to do list when you lay your head to rest at night.
- Then do gentle yoga movements – have your yoga teacher show you – dim the light but journal or write down the to do list and know that it will be there in the morning. You can forget them for now. Return to recline and Body Scan.
- Always end the day with gratitude, again and again.