Prime yourself for winter health

Salutations and asanas

What’s the first thing I do when I wake up during these cold winter mornings (after a morning chat with my boyfriend, of course)?   A few sun salutations and yoga asanas (poses) to get the blood flowing and to warm up.  Sun salutations are designed to cultivate heat.  I can’t start my day without them!

When we are cold, our circulation decreases, which not only slows the effectiveness of the organs, it also lowers our body temperature even more.  This can lead to constriction in the muscles, joints and even our perspective.

So, as tempting as it is to stay snuggled in bed, get up a bit earlier and keep up your yoga practice to develop an internal heat that keeps us healthy and warm.

Inverted poses increases circulation of lymph – a clear, watery fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes.  So try a few like: downward dog, dolphin pose, extended-puppy pose, legs-up-the-wall pose, plow or supported headstand.

‘Miracle drink’

I’ve been carrying a thermos of hot water, ginger, lemon and sometimes mixed with green tea to work recently.  Believe it not, Barcelona can get pretty cold in winter.

The following cold and flu concoction was recommended by my Yoga Philosophy teacher, Yogesh (a wonderful soul.)  It is recommended to inhale for about 20 minutes and drink the remaining liquid.  It is actually quite tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter of filtered water
  • Small white onion
  • Garlic cloves (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Lemon Grass
  • Black pepper
  • Juggery or honey

Boil all of the ingredients in a saucepan and reduce to 750ml.

Inhale for about 20 minutes and drink the remaining liquid.  You can discard the ingredients or if you’re like me, add them to a meal.

Don’t wait until the first sign of sniffles to attempt your yoga practice as by that point inversions could agitate both body and mind.  Instead, do a few sun salutations and breathing exercises to build up your immunity throughout the winter and keep common colds at bay.

Additional tips:

‘Neti Pot, Nasal rinsing:

Use a neti pot for nasal cleansing.  Neti works wonders for chronic sinusitis, allergies and in several cases for Asthma.  It has a remarkable effect on upper respiratory tract infections, especially hay fever.  A special “Neti Pot” is filled with warm, slightly salted water and the spout of the pot is inserted into one nostril. The position of the head and pot are adjusted to allow the water to flow out of the other nostril.  Neti cleansing should ideally be done on an empty stomach.  Click here to find out more.

The technique is not as hard or uncomfortable as one may think at first. You will be pleasantly surprised at this simple and effective method of health maintenance.

Practice kapalbhati pranayama

Kalpalbhati helps to reduce excess mucus, increase immunity and promotes a whole host of health benefits.

Eat right

And lastly, don’t forget to eat right with whole foods and top up with your immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory foods  such as leafy greens, olive oil, berries and beets.  Avoid foods that inflame like white bread and pastries, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, red and processed meat, margarine and heaps more.

Shine on through winter!

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