“If you hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing, it means you don’t have Covid-19.”
“Breathing in hot air from a hairdryer can kill Coronavirus.”
“Ginger is a miracle cure for coronavirus.”
“Coronavirus can be cured by one bowl of freshly boiled garlic water.”
With the raging pandemic, there’s been a simultaneous rise of WhatsApp university medical advice on improving immunity and everything else. I have not only heard or received most of the above “cures,” I’ve even had to helplessly witness them being put to practice, especially by the senior citizens in the family. No amount of reasoning seems to work as every home remedy that comes through the messaging app is taken with the seriousness of a gospel.
To counter this, I had created my version of ‘WhatsApp forward’ like posts to give a holistic perspective on health and wellness for Covid-19. These covered the seven key inputs that can help us build our Immunity, including good sleep, stress management, a gut-friendly diet with variety, sunlight, moderate exercise, and some herbs as boosters for the body. While it was well-received but within a few weeks, it was well forgotten. Because just last week, I found my aunt eating raw, finely chopped onions as she thought she might have a fever, and she’d read about this trick on Whatsapp. Eventually, she never developed any fever, and therefore in her view, the onions worked.
Most households today are probably struggling with the amount of misinformation that’s out there. So, I wanted to reiterate the importance of a holistic lifestyle for our mental and physical health. Because many are obsessively focussed on that one miracle cure in the home remedies section and are losing sight of the bigger picture. The only true remedy to this problem is a holistic and balanced lifestyle. That is what will hold you strong, not just against the coronavirus but any other mental or physical ailment that may come in the future.
Breathing exercises for Immunity
There’s no one exceptional technique that’ll transform your Immunity. But consistently practicing mindful breathing will. It can include any yogic Pranayama or Buddhist mindful breathing or simply diaphragmatic breathing. The critical thing with the breath is that it relaxes the nervous system, which reduces the impact of stress. And when the body is not in stress mode, it is in rest and recovery mode. And in that mode, your Immunity is higher. Choose one or more breathing practices that you intuitively enjoy that help you feel calm and relaxed. And practice them often, even multiple times a day, and do this consistently.
Exception: If you’re a Covid-19 or COPD patient, some specific exercises will be more beneficial for you.
Diet for Immunity
There’s no one exceptional magical diet that’ll transform your Immunity. But consistently eating wholesome foods with various grains and legumes and different colored fruits and vegetables will. And you will not be able to develop such a diet by suppressing yourself or following crash diets. Or by forcefully eating some foods just because someone said they’re healthy irrespective of whether you like them or not. Or by suppressing your food choices. Suppression is not only discouraged in Ayurveda but also by modern psychology. Because it almost always backfires and results in overeating while also being detrimental to your mental health.
When you blindly start following rules about diet, you lose connection with your intuition. You stop listening to your body’s signals; you let go of your uniqueness. As a result, you may no longer interpret signals of hunger or boredom accurately. And this is the exact opposite of what you want. By tuning into your feelings instead of denying and suppressing yourselves, you are already working towards better physical and mental health. Additionally, Mindfulness Meditation is a very powerful technique that can help you transform your food habits – so include that for this and its many other benefits.
In summary, practice moderation, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not, choose foods you like, and start listening to your body.
Exception: those with certain health issues like IBS or thyroid may need specific diets.
Yoga for Immunity
No one yoga posture will transform your Immunity. But consistently practicing a wide variety of yoga poses, at different pace and tempo, regularly will. For better results also include Pranayama and Meditation in your daily practice. No one has researched every single yoga pose in every single possible scenario and then checked every possible outcome. Ancient yoga texts only give three main benefits of yoga poses – your digestion will get better, you may lose body fat, you’ll be able to meditate. The benefits that are scientifically known are only based on the tests that have been done. And most of the benefits of yoga poses you read about are unfounded and anecdotal.
So, yes, Yoga poses are powerful, but their benefits are neither exclusive nor absolute. Therefore, don’t run after individual poses; include a wide variety of them in your life. Make sure you do a forward bend, side bend, twist, backbend, inversion, single leg balance, etc., every day.
In that is the secret of yoga – a consistent practice with a variety of postures done with breath awareness that makes you feel good and energized. Do this as often as you can without overburdening yourself. If you start correctly and choose ways that you enjoy, then you will become regular effortlessly.
Exception: People with specific health conditions like high blood pressure, glaucoma, or injuries may need to avoid some poses
The secret of Strong Immunity
Here are the seven simple ways to boost your Immunity
- Exercise: Practice at least 30 mins of moderately paced activity 5-6 times a day. Yoga is a great choice so is any other activity.
- Stay active: Be active throughout the day as per your capacity, don’t sit for long hours.
- Manage Stress: Make time for stress management techniques like gentle yoga, pranayama, meditation, art, etc.
- Moderation in Diet: Take care of your gut with your diet, eat a wide variety of local and seasonal foods. Be mindful of excess processed food consumption.
- Sunlight: Get some sunlight for Vitamin D, or speak to your doctor for a supplement.
- Stay hydrated: Herbal drinks with readily available kitchen items can always be included in moderation.
- Sleep well: Sleep is needed for good health and strong immunity. Read this article on how to sleep better.
So, don’t seek your solution in a particular fruit or vegetable; seek it in your everyday food choices. Don’t run after individual postures; embrace a wholesome yoga practice and be consistent with it. Don’t stress or overburden yourself with unfounded tricks to beat corona; instead, use your energy for mindfulness and meditation. So, put the seven building blocks of a healthy lifestyle in place, the results will follow.