As a Yogi, Ayurveda Practitioner, Executive Coach and Health District Official, here are some of my insights from my conversations with Doctors, Healers, Yogis and Public Health Officials.
I believe survival of this virus requires a 3-pronged approach of Prevention, Immune System Boosting and Lung Protection. I don’t believe toilet paper masks are going to save us!
Strategy #1 – Prevention
Prevention is a strategy that includes frequent hand-washing, social distancing, regular disinfecting of high touch surfaces, washing clothes frequently and smart choices of where you go and who you engage with. Stop shaking hands, and touching your face. Time to Namaste, greet with your hand on your heart or Air-5! A couple of preventative yoga tips include lubricating your nostrils with ghee or olive oil, as a way to improve the capture of pathogens entering your nostrils. (During this time your should be only breathing in through your nose, in order for your mucus lining and nose hairs to do their job trapping stuff!). At the end of the day, you can rinse out the ghee or olive oil along with anything they have trapped. Jal Neti – saline water poured through the nostrils to cleanse is another useful technique to flush out pathogens.
However good our prevention strategy, it is very likely that many of us will end up being exposed – and therefore I believe the next key strategy should be to boost our immunity to improve our chances of recovery.
Strategy # 2 – Boost Your Immune System
The best way to boost our immune system is through getting more sleep. Sleep in an extra hour, go to bed earlier, and if you are tired – take extra rest. This is not a time to “tough it out” with stress, overwork and minimal sleep.
Stress and anxiety dampen our immune system, and so we must find ways to reduce stress. Meditation is one of the most powerful tools we can use to combat stress, and help us through this time. Watching the news has the opposite effect. If you are a news junkie (like me), then you need to meditate extra to counter this effect! I find myself glued to reading news for hours on end, and sometimes right before bed, increasing my anxiety and fear, and ruining my sleep. I am now setting strict boundaries to keep away from devices after 9pm, to avoid listening to contradicting government directives, and to check on the latest news earlier in the day, and for a limited period of time.
Eating and drinking turmeric is also very good as an immune booster for the body. Also for Vitamin C, Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry) has about 30 times the vitamin C of oranges, and can be taken if you are starting to feel sick.
It is also important to stay hydrated. One source suggested that the virus attaches to dry mouth tissue, but with good hydration, especially sipping warm drinks throughout the day, flushes the virus into the stomach where our digestive acids kill the virus.
Strategy #3 – Protect Your Lungs
COVID-19 attacks the lungs, and so this is a key organ we need to protect. Make sure to get plenty of fresh air every day, open the windows to your home regularly and go outside and get lungfuls of fresh air. Ayurveda agrees with your Mom, don’t expose your neck and chest to the cold as it makes you more susceptible to have chest-related ailments. Keep wrapped up, use a scarf, and wear a jacket in cooler weather. In addition, practice Pranayama daily – deep breathing yogic lung exercises that keep the lungs functioning optimally. I recommend Full Yogic Breathing (3-part Yogic breath, Kapal-bhati (Skull-Shining Breath) and also breath retention exercises.
Additionally, there are some herbs and spices that help with immunity and lung strength. Tulsi (Indian Holy Basil) is excellent for protecting the lungs, and can be found at many health food stores. Drink 1-2 liters of warm Tulsi tea daily, and mix in a tablespoon of chopped ginger and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper to boost lung protection effects.
This is a time to really evaluate our individual power to take care of ourselves by staying informed, keeping balanced in our workday, and paying attention to our daily health. More sleep, less stress and good hygiene will go a long way in helping us be part of the 95+% that will survive this crisis.
My book, The Business Casual Yogi explains many of the yoga and breathing tips described, and many of these techniques can also be found on the internet from various reliable sources.