Colds and flus; they are an expected part of this time of year, but do they have to be? The fact is that while there is no cure for the common cold or flu virus, there are many ways that we can protect ourselves from their onslaught. It can be tough, especially when you live with kids that seem to come down with the first cold of the season a week or two into the school year (like mine did).
Here are a few of the best natural tips, from the latest scientific research, to boost your immune system and protect yourself from those nasty bugs before they strike (thank you, Yoga Journal).
- Limit caffeine, which stresses your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are located just above your kidneys and help to regulate hormone function and deal with stress.
- Strike a heart opening pose (backbends), such as cobra or bridge, to stimulate blood flow to the thymus gland, which is located just behind the breastbone. The thymus gland produces T-cells, which are your body’s first line of defence.
- Add mushrooms to your diet. They increase white blood cell counts in the blood stream. Add them to soups or stews or find a medicinal dose in a supplement.
- Soothe your nose’s mucous membranes and keep the nasal passages clear by using a neti pot and salt water solution daily. If you do get a cold, the neti pot can help relieve sinus pain and stuffiness.
- Meditate. Even 10 minutes per day can be beneficial. Stress is your immune system’s greatest enemy, so anything you can do to relieve stress is well worth the time.
- Exercise for 30 minutes per day, but don’t overdo it. Extreme training can also take its toll on your body’s immune system.
- Ayurvedic practitioners recommend the supplements turmeric and ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) to boost the immune system.
- Have fun and stay connected. Science has proven that having things to look forward to, such a special evening with friends, boosts immune function.
- Hydrate; both your body and your indoor space (with a humidifier). The season’s colder, dryer air makes for perfect host conditions for germs.
- And of course, WASH YOUR HANDS with soap and water frequently.
A Mini-Practice to Support Your Lymphatic System (you have clear watery fluid that moves through your body picking up bacteria and viruses and then filtering it through the lymph nodes)
- 10 minutes seated mediation
- Child’s Pose, knees separated and forehead supported by a block/bolster
- Downward-facing Dog Pose (5 breaths)
- Wide-leg Standing Forward Bend, you may choose to support your forehead on a block
- Standing Forward Fold, you may choose to support your forehead on a block (or 2 stacked)
- Shoulderstand prep, supported with a folded blanket (if you are comfortable taking shoulderstand without the guidance of a teacher)
- Reclining revolved abdomen pose (bent or straight knees)
- Supported Bridge, a block placed under the back of hips