Updated: Feb 1
I live in Seattle, where we battle winter weather that is cold, dark, and damp and cuts right through a North Face 800-fill waterproof jacket into your bones.
I'm super lucky to have such a coat, but the wetness of this climate is rather mind- blowing (especially for a California native).
Wherever you are, the elements of winter season (Ayurvedic kapha season) fuel many breeding grounds for bacteria, including crowded yoga classes, daycare, and schools. Despite exposure to all these things, I pretty much never get sick.
You might think this is a miracle; however, it's not. I have chronic asthma and have suffered respiratory challenges since childhood. It took me a long time to understand and fully embrace that I could CHOOSE to be well, instead of waiting until I can't move or breathe and then trying to climb out of sickness to feel semi-human again. Practice and dedication to maintaining my wellness has changed my life. I got off lifelong medications and never, ever use my inhaler anymore. Don't resist and recuperate. Maintain and sustain.
Want a little bit of this nirvana? I'm not saying avoid people or yoga class (the long term benefits of practicing asana in community far outweigh the threat to your immune system). I am saying this: keep your immunity high by committing to two things:
A daily routine (dinacharya)
Choices that set you up better for maintaining wellness
Try it out, and get back to me.
Dinacharya is the sanskrit word for a self-care routine that is akin to self-maintenance. Traditionally, there are a lot of components, and we don't always have the time to do them all, but see if you can attempt to integrate a few in the morning. You might be surprised that you feel better pretty quickly - even a little better is way better than feeling crappy. Here are my top three winter morning habits:
Nasal Irrigation - shower for your nose with a neti pot to remove dust, dirt, pollen, and loosen the mucous build-up due to colds and allergies (more on using a neti pot here)
Tongue Scraping - removal of toxic residue from the body via the oral cavity, one of the main gateways between you and the environment; residue can be from poor eating, digestion, and more; fresh breath is a positive side-effect from tongue scraping (read how to do it here)
Pranayama - breath control to aid the body and mind; Kapalabhati (skull shining) pranayama is a cleansing technique that can clear mucus, relieve congestion, and improve lung capacity, plus invigorate you in winter (read how to do it here)
Self-Massage - Abhyanga
This one's a little more involved and therefore harder to squeeze in everyday (abhyanga is the daily ritual of self-massage). If you can do this one more often, though, you'll be better off. Massage in general can increase circulation and flush impurities from the body.
In the winter, I like to use cardamom essential oil blended in warming sesame body oil (unless you run really, really hot and suspect you could have excess Pitta - reach out, let's talk). Cardamom is antimicrobial and antiseptic, helping to fight excess mucus and bacteria in the lungs. It's especially nice for asthmatics, or those who suffer from bronchitis (learn about simple abhyanga here).
Choices - Good Ideas for Busy Life
Sleep deeply and more. Go to bed earlier than later, and try not to do the extreme sleep in (creates excess sluggishness)
Turn off screens earlier. - 1.5 hours before bedtime (at least), which helps with sleep
Curate your schedule for wellness. Take a good hard look to make sure you're not overbooking yourself nor acting like a hermit. Balancing your calendar is a really incredible strategy for personal health maintenance and self-care. Learn how to Balance Your Calendar by the Chakras.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you get sick. We're human. Some comforting things while the ick is in your body:
Relieve your throat: Real lemon in warm water with honey
Support digestion and circulation: Ayurvedic cumin, coriander, and fennel tea
Ease into and stay asleep: The duo of Serenity and Breathe in your diffuser at night
Soothe muscle aches: Deep Blue Rub
I hope you don't get sick. I wish you nirvana. However, if you go down in a blaze of mucus, feel better soon and examine your daily routine and choices moving forward. It really could change your life forever.
If you need help, book a sesh with me. Let's get you back on track.
Oils, Salves, and Tea
Quality Cardamom Essential Oil
Sleep Duo: Serenity and Breathe
Muscle ache salve: Deep Blue Rub
Sesame Body Oil: Banyan Botanicals
Ayurvedic tea (cumin, coriander, fennel)
Neti Pots and Tongue Scrapers
Great for beginners: Comfy Pot
Starter kit: Himalayan Chandra System
My pick: Health & Yoga Stainless Steel
*this post contains affiliate links