Boost your immunity through Yoga and Ayurveda

For better digestion and absorption adequate rest and exercise are needed along with good food. Photo: Abhijeet Mukesh

According to Ayurveda, ojas (immunity) is a kapha component of the body. It is at the heart 'chakra' and is the centre of immunity in the human body. Ojas provides endurance, resistance and strength to ward off diseases. It manifests itself in tongue and nose.

Meanwhile, Tejas (the pitta component of ojas) is the fire/ light energy which sustains ojas. tejas burns and destroys toxins when activated. It reflects in the eyes.

Prana (the vata component) is the strength and energy coming from ojas. Think of electricity. Prana sustains the healing process. It is predominant in ears and skin.

Ayurveda and Yoga recommends reducing ama (undigested and other waste matter), reducing negative emotions, absorption of nutrition, abhayanga (oil massage) activating the parasympathetic system and sleeping well to achieve good immunity.

» Reduce ama or waste matter

Having incompatible foods, fruits after meals, spoilt food, frozen foods, drinking water within 1 hour before or after having meals, eating when mentally upset and so on cause ama. Do not have cold foods and do not suppress any natural urges. Make sure you drink enough water so body can filter out the toxins. Have warm water. Practise apana and akasha mudra. Have black pepper, long pepper and ginger, ama pachak, turmeric, black pepper, ghee, tulsi or triphala.

» Purge negative emotions

Hatred, anger, worry, guilt, envy, jealousy, excessive fatigue or hunger hamper immunity. They activate your sympathetic system which is connected with the fight, flight or freeze mode of the brain. The release of stress hormones disrupts your bodily functions. Some of the ways to get rid of negative emotions are mantra chanting, positive self-reaffirmations at the start of the day, writing 10-positive points at the end of the day, being on a no complaint/bitching challenge, looking at the positive side of everything, cracking jokes to keep yourself entertained, focusing on the people who love/care for you and ignoring the others. Minimise reading or watching things which create negative emotions in you, focus on content that will soothe you or keep you neutral. Being cheerful gives a boost to the happy hormones which increases immunity.

» Increase nutrition intake

Remember, it's of no use to eat nutritional food if you are not able to digest it. For better digestion and absorption adequate rest and exercise are needed along with good food. You have heard it all, more fruits, vegetables, dals and pulses, seeds and so on and less of white sugar, maida and food items fried in unhealthy oils. Buttermilk after food or along with it is good for digestion. It is preferable to have curd based foods in daytime.

» Undergo Abhayanga and perform Mudras in Yoga

Abhayanga or oil massage decreases vata, increases ojas and nourishes tissues. Abhayanga should be done in a circular motion on joints and in a back-and-forth pattern on long bones. It should not be applied on chest and breasts. Mudras in Yoga like Linga, Sankh, Prana and Prithvi are known to increase immunity.

» Activate the parasympathetic system

Get good sleep, hear healing sounds, keep smiling more, release tension on brows and tune into your heartbeat either by catching pulse or placing palm on heart.

Practice deep breathing and long exhalations. Perform paranayama followed by anulom vilom, humming, singing and Om chanting. Even gargling and laughing and massages stimulate the vagus nerve and parasympathetic system. Inversion Yoga poses activate the vagus nerve which stimulates the parasympathetic system. This stimulates lymph flow detoxes body. Examples are the downward yoga pose, shoulder stand pose, vipritkarni, shashankasana, chakrasana, uttanasana, bridge pose, halasana, headstand and dolphin pose.

» Sleep well

Sleeping well is one of the most important aspects for immunity. Good sleep not only prepares your body to keep you awake for the whole of the next day but also repairs your body which is one of the most important things for good immunity. It does not matter how long you sleep but counts on how good your slumber is, it is good for cell regeneration.