Stepping out of isolation with balance and grace...and honoring yourself.
This pandemic has been a unique experience that we have shared on a global scale, however, each individual's experience has been unique on a very personal level. This past year of self-isolation, shelter-in-place, and social distancing has removed us from our daily routines, relationships, physical contact, and the communities that support and sustain us in the different aspects of our lives.
With the vaccine becoming more wildly available and businesses, school, travel, recreation, and the like reopening and returning back into a physical space we find ourselves transitioning and readjusting yet again.
Although we are excited and relieved to see each other and to be able to enjoy dining out, group activities, getting massages, haircuts, and go shopping again, we may not realize the challenges that come with reintegration.
Experiencing anxiety over being back in society is common, even with many of the precautions still in place. For one, we may not feel 100% confident that we are safe. Returning back to shaking hands, hugging, and sitting next to a stranger on the bus or a park bench can easily provoke a stress reaction in the body which has very real emotional, psychological, and physical impacts.
Many of us have gained weight from being at home, less active, and from emotional eating. We may feel self-conscious, shame, or embarrassed. We may not want to run into acquaintances we have not seen in over a year because we do not feel good about the way we look.
Also, the isolation we have been experiencing is not unlike being in a retreat. We have been going inward for many months and willing or not, that changes who we are on some level. It can be challenging returning to a world that is used to interacting with who we once were and not fully knowing who we are now or who we are becoming.
So...how can we reintegrate back into our daily living and how does Ayurveda support us with our relationships with ourselves, our families, and our communities?
Intentional eating and healthy digestion start with:
talking with your medicines, foods, and liquids. Put your intentions and tell them what you need. Our digestion is an important factor in our immune system, staying connected to what we are ingesting as well as how we are ingesting it.
Find relaxation and gratitude with your meals.
Put calming music and light a candle to help aid in digestion. In Ayurveda, we enjoy lighting a candle to help aid in the transformation of our food. Put on calming music and set up your ambiance.
If your stressed take a moment to calm down before eating, sit with your feelings and breathe. Our food will not digest when we don't feel well. Take your time with your food, chew it well aiding in digestion.
Keep a rhythm with your digestion
Stay on a routine with your meals, eat easy to digest, cooked and warm foods.
Avoid heavy, cold and raw foods at this time.
Sip on hot water throughout the day to aid in digestion and removing cold from the body.
Neuromuscular massage works with the nervous system to reach deep tension patterns, chronic pain, and postural issues. The brain sends out messages, the nerves respond by creating an impulses throughout the body. The impulses create contraction. When there is any of the above conditions from work, an accident, or over exertion in exercise. The nerve impulses are going to quickly, they need to slow down so the muscle can lengthen properly as well as contract. We need to send a message back to the brain to slow the nerve impulse. Once the impulse slows down, contraction minimizes and more blood moves into the muscle fibers. The more blood that moves freely, the more nutrition we can receive, the more toxins can naturally move out of the body through the lymphatic system. Enhancing range of movement and easing pain.
Take 500-1000 Vitamin C daily.
Chyavanprasam Jam or Raw Honey in the morning on empty stomach with warm water is also a great way to get vitamins and increase immunity.
What drains you?
Find more time for rest and increasing positive spaces and time.
Negative media is depleting and can affect our overall emotions. Find time to watch inspirational shows or to watch nature.
Prana rich foods
Eat more vegetables and anti-oxidant rich fruits like
vegetables, lentils, beans, whole grains.
Easy to Digest
Warm cooked meals with healthy fats like ghee and spices like:
Turmeric, ginger, fennel, cumin, cardamom, clove, mustard seed, hingvastak.
Sip on Hot water
Everyone should have a personal thermos to sip on throughout the day.
Dried ginger tea is a great option as well.
A cup of herbal tea for immunity or calming anxiety is helpful too.
Respect circadian rhythms
Wake up with the sun and sleep at night increases immunity and memory.
Your body comes with a user manual for vitality.
Now is the time to follow as much of it as possible.
Put on gentle music, use lavender essential oil and practice long slow deep breaths to calm the mind.
Induce the gag reflex in the morning after brushing teeth.
Depress the back of your tongue with a toothbrush or finger to stimulate.
This activates the vagal nerve which has potent immunological benefits.
The counter stimulation of the sympathetic nervous
system then helps to clear the nasal and paranasal areas.
Salt with warm water to clean throat and helps with mucous, postnasal drip, colds or congestion. Salt with Turmeric is especially helpful if you feel a cold coming on, as it is antiviral and antibacterial. For a cough you can add a bit of ghee to the salt and turmeric gargle.
Oiling the Nostrils
Applying oil create a barrier that can help to reduce
environmental pollution and viruses.
Anu Thailam, or cold pressed castor oil is good for everyone.
Ayurveda means life knowledge.
It is a 10,000 year old Vedic healing science whose depth, beauty and efficacy is based in natural principles of the universe. Ayurveda is a guide in understanding relationship; to ourselves and the world around us. It has a 5 element system: SPACE, AIR, FIRE, WATER, EARTH. These elements are then expressed in 3 humors/doshas: VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA. Finding balance within the qualities of these elements we find alignment with our metabolism, food, and the changing seasons. Bringing harmony to our relationship to our self within the changing seasons. Finding an increased sense of health, vitality and happiness.
In Sanskrit SNEHA means OIL as well as LOVE. The effects of abhyanga massage are similar to the effect of the saturation of love, allowing sneha to pass through the minute channels in the body and penetrate deep into the layers of tissues. Abhyanga is a full body synchronized massage traditionally received by two therapists. The oil is applied in long rhythmic strokes and includes massage of the scalp, face, chest, abdomen and side body. According to Ayurveda it nourishes all tissues, is grounding and relaxing, allowing the body to heal. The oils used in this therapeutic massage are based on the season and your health condition. It is extremely nourishing for individuals who have chronic stress, anxiety or insomnia.
Ayurvedic traditional oils are made with a base of sesame, sunflower or coconut and are infused with many medicinal herbs, and may have cows milk, goats, milk, beeswax or castor oil. The skin being the largest organ it is very important to provide the proper nourishment as well as utilize the skin’s ability to bring medicinal herbs into the body through the blood stream down to the bodies deepest layers of tissues. Not only does it strengthen the skin and improve color and texture, but it also tones muscles and prevents stress and injury.
Pranayama is a vedic science for expanding and channeling the life force, through the practice of breathing exercises. Pranayama is a sanskrit word meaning "controlling or expanding the life force". Prana means "fundamental life force", Ayama is described as "expansion" and Yama is known as “control". This in depth vedic science is included as one of the 8 limbs of yoga.
One begins to understand Prana by creating awareness around the quality of the breath. When the breath is shallow, strained or erratic the mind and body is experiencing stress, anxiety, and/or tension. When the breath is rhythmic and full we have an abundance of energy and our mind gains a sense of clarity and ease. By bringing a state of balance to the breath we can nourish our vitality and prepare the mind to turn inward. My teacher Dr. Vasant Lad of the Ayurvedic Institute beautifully teaches that despite how we are feeling, we can always go to our breath, it is our best friend, it is always with us from the time of birth till the time of death. Adopting the practice of full deep yogic breaths during times of anxiety and tension has brought me a sense of serenity. The experience of expanding the life force can heal and purify our physical, psychological and spiritual bodies.
The diaphragm is the mover of the breath, a voluntary and involuntary muscle that responds to conscious and unconscious commands. By using the diaphragm consciously we gain control of of the conscious and unconscious processes directed by our prana. This can help dissolve stagnant patterns in the mind and direct the energy flow to regulate the body’s physiological functions.
Pranayama breathing benefits:
Pranayama is a broad science with many techniques, some very simple, and others more complex and taking years of practice to cultivate. Depending on the desired effect, specific practices are recommended. Pranayama can be heating, cooling, stimulating, calming, regulating, and ultimately teaches one how to control their prana. Because these practices are so varied and powerful it is important to study with an experienced teacher who can safely guide your practice.
Ayurvedic Practitioner and Educator.