In Ayurveda, the theory of immunity is called beej-bhumi (literally translated as ‘seed and land’). The idea is that your body is the land and potential pathogens are the seeds that float in the wind: if your body is flooded with ama (toxic waste) and lacking ojas (vital energy), it becomes a fertile land for the infection to take root and multiply. In a nutshell, through your diet and lifestyle, you create the environment that will determine the state of your health.
Ojas is the stabilizing force of body and mind and provides the body with the ability to endure stress- the strength of ojas is directly proportional to a person’s resistance to disease. Strong immunity is a product of good digestion / strong agni (digestive fire), quality liver functioning and a balanced endocrine system, and all functions of the body that act to preserve the body are believed to be the manifestations of ojas.
In light of what has been happening around the world, it is crucial that we take a look at how we can strengthen our ojas to support optimal health and boost immunity, and here are 8 easy, actionable rituals you can incorporate into your daily life right now!
1. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is important for both healthy digestion and strong immunity, and it involves bringing your attention to the tastes, textures and smells of the food while picturing it nourishing your body. Like anything new, it requires practice before it can become second nature to us.
Here are some practical tips:
- Eat healthy, whole foods and avoid processed foods and refined sugars,
- Eat sitting down in a quiet, relaxing environment.
- Eat your main meal in the middle of the day when your digestion is the strongest, and eat lighter meals for your breakfast and dinner.
- Avoiding eating within two hours of bedtime for proper digestion and a good night’s sleep.
The simple act of gargling cleans out germs and bacterias that linger in your nasal passage and throat before entering your bloodstream and weakening your immunity.
A study in Japan revealed that gargling can effectively prevent 40% of upper respiratory tract infections, and Ayurvedic practitioners recommend gargling with warm salt water to maintain a healthy PH level in your mouth, clear nasal congestion and reduce inflammation.
3. Nasya (Nasal Cleansing)
Nasya (nasal cleansing) is the practice of nourishing and lubricating your nasal passage with oil to maintain respiratory wellness, as the dry, cold air in the winter provides the perfect environment for airborne illnesses to spread.
Best done on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, it is an easy procedure of applying 1–2 drops of oil into each nostril with clean fingertips, or with your head tilted back for a more intensified routine.
Ayurveda teaches that drinking cold water is akin to pouring cold water on fire, and it extinguishes your agni and interferes with your digestion. When we maintain a strong agni, we avoid the production of ama.
Say no to ice water and switch to sipping warm water throughout the day to soothe, hydrate, decongest and cleanse the body.
Did you know that stress hormones suppresses your immune system because it triggers your body to reallocate vital resources to ensure your immediate survival? It is crucial to reduce your exposure to stressful situations to preserve your ojas and bolster your immune system, and a great way to achieve that is through daily meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day.
You can also read more about how to manage your Ayurvedic stress type here.
We all know about the benefits of exercising- it provides an outlet for your body to move, maintaining fluidity in the tissues, alertness in the mind and lubrication in your joints. Exercise also supports the natural detoxification process, kindling your agni while improving digestion, circulation, elimination and lymphatic flow to promote relaxation and sound sleep, all of which protects your ojas and supports your immune system.
One thing worth noting is that Ayurveda recommends regular exercise at just fifty percent of our capacity — until we break a mild sweat or until the first sign of dryness in the mouth.
7. Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Massage)
Abhyanga (Ayurvedic massage) can be likened to oiling the engine of your car for peak performance- you apply warm oil to your body and slowly massage the vital marma points and allow 10–15 minutes for the oil to be absorbed into the skin before hopping into the shower. (You can look up the Rituals tab on our Lime Vetiver Dry Silk Body Oil to see where the key marma points are!)
It recharges and rejuvenates your mind and body and is crucial for opening your energy channels, stimulating the digestion and removing toxins from the body, all of which strengthens your immunity and prevents respiratory problems.
(Please note that massage is not recommended if you already have a cough or other respiratory imbalance, because it can push the ama deeper into the system.)
Sleep is a life-supporting system that is vital to peak immune function, and not getting enough sleep is more harmful to your health than you realize. A study done on rats in the journal Cancer Research showed that “interrupted sleep can speed cancer growth, increase tumor aggressiveness and dampen the immune system’s ability to control early cancers”.
Implementing a gratitude practice before bed can help you reduce your anxiety and focus on the positive, allowing you to have a good night’s rest and boosting your immunity. Your most productive sleep happens before midnight, so getting to bed before 10 will also have you feeling the most rejuvenated.
Here’s to a vibrant, healthy season ahead!