By Sarah Kruse

While we may have varying opinions about what’s going on around us or how to address it, what we do have in common is that we are all connected by this collective experience. The truth is, we have always been connected and always will be connected. Like so many wise ones have spoken: We Are One.

During these days and weeks of social distancing, many of us are finding connection in unexpected ways. Maybe you have gotten back in touch with a dear friend, pulled that old guitar out of the closet and strummed a soothing melody, or maybe you have returned to or begun a meditation practice and connected inward.

What about social and physical connection?
We are being asked not to touch or hug each other or receive non-essential massage and bodywork. Parties, concerts and sporting events have temporarily ceased. Group educational programs are paused. We miss each other, right?

How about generating some oxytocin without the social interaction that we’re used to? Oxytocin is the feel-good peptide hormone that plays a role in social bonding, falling in love, sexual activity and childbirth. When oxytocin is flowing in the body, we feel happy, connected, relaxed and often blissful. Oxytocin literally replaces stress with bliss. It’s so sweet.

What can we do to boost oxytocin and feel that happy feeling of connection if we are mostly alone and feeling isolated? Activities that boost oxytocin, include cuddling, petting an animal, hugging a tree, receiving massage, doing self massage, exercise, orgasm, laughter, positive thinking and serving others. All of these activities increase that sweet, warm feeling of love and positively boost the immune system!

If there was ever a time to turn toward yourself and commit to self care practices, it is now. Ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition from India, repeatedly informs us that self-care is a primary cornerstone of optimal health. Self-Care = Self-Love.

Some of the most nurturing self-care practices we can bring in to increase love and connection are:

  •  Self massage with warm oil – enjoy this ritual often, head to toe, before bathing.
  • Eat seasonal homemade meals, made with love, for your Ayurvedic constitution.
  • Try to eat meals around the same time each day. This can be tricky when you have a flexible schedule, but I promise you – your digestion, energy, mood and sleep will all improve when you do this simple thing.
  • Prioritize getting enough sleep. Proper sleep is essential to feeling good.
  • Get outside everyday, move your body and breathe deeply. Notice the wonder and beauty of Nature.
  • Connect regularly with someone you trust to share your feelings and emotions. Listening to each other is very healing and heartwarming.
  • Meditation – take time away from electronics to sit quietly and listen to your inner wisdom and the wisdom of the eternal source. In this space, you can awaken to your innate healing capacity.
  • Tap into your creative energy that may have been lying dormant, waiting to be rekindled. Is there a poem waiting to emerge, a song to sing, or a painting to create?
  • Reach out and offer help to someone in need. This might look like dropping off a prepared meal or running an errand for a friend or neighbor.

We are living in incredible times, requiring incredible resilience. Part of remaining resilient is maintaining self-care and doing things that feel good. I invite you to choose one new practice today then add others as you are inspired. When you focus on taking time to care for yourself in these ways, everyone around you benefits.

So, we arrive at the same message…. We Are One. It is by knowing this in our hearts that we can dissolve any barriers blocking us from seeing, loving and having compassion for each other. Connection with ourselves, each other and nature is the way to get through these times we’re in.

 

And…..Love is always the answer.

There has been much concern regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as various seasonal cold and flu viruses. Some of the most effective and empowering actions we can take now are to prevent illness and maintain our immunity.

In the northern hemisphere, as we are leaving the throes of winter and entering the newness of spring, we find ourselves fully in the season of Kapha dosha. Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water elements and is the energy of structure and lubrication, holding the body together. It has the qualities of slow, heavy, cold, dense, soft and sweet. Its primary sites in the body are the lungs and stomach.

When balanced, Kapha is steady, grounded and affectionate. Kapha imbalances can include possessiveness, attachment or laziness. Physically it may manifest as weight gain, respiratory congestion, excessive sleep or lethargy. To balance Kapha, we want to bring in warmth, lightness and stimulation.

The Coronavirus has an affinity to the lungs, which are one of the seats of Kapha. In Ayurveda, to protect the lungs, prevent viral infection and strengthen Kapha, we look at a number of measures. While there are many, we’ll focus on a few key seasonal lifestyle tips and remedies here:

  • Food is medicine. Eat warm foods with heating spices like ginger, black pepper and garlic. These foods will stoke the digestive fire and bolster lung strength. Add them to meals such as: spicy dal soup, miso-ginger soup and stir fry. I like to add freshly chopped ginger root, turmeric root and garlic to many dishes.
  • Minimize foods that are cold, sweet, milky and sugary, such as ice cream and sweetened yogurt. These foods create excess mucus, which is a breeding ground for pathogens.
  • Favor honey over refined sugars. Enjoy plain or elderberry honey in your teas.
  • Hydration is essential. Drink warm or hot beverages and avoid having them cold or iced. Cold drinks and food can weaken the digestive fire, thus slowing digestive processes.
  • Maintain proper sleep hygiene. Going to bed at the same time each night and getting enough sleep support your circadian rhythm and immunity.
  • Engage in regular, invigorating exercise such as brisk walking while breathing deeply, through the nose.
  • Practice Kapalabhati Pranayama (Breath of Fire) to eliminate mucus from the respiratory tract. See qualified yoga teacher.
  • Make sure to keep stress and fear at bay. These feelings and emotions weaken immunity.
  • Eat lots of vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers and kale to boost your immunity.
  • Enjoy Chyavanprash – the Ayurvedic jam that rejuvenates the whole body and enhances proper immune system function. It is rich in vitamin C and is full of adaptogenic herbs. Find Chyavanprash at: banyanbotanicals.com
  • Use a neti pot with saline water to rinse mucus and debris from sinuses and prevent infection.
  • Super Nasya Oil – sinus oil for clearing and protecting the sinuses. If you don’t have Super Nasya Oil, you can use plain sesame oil, coconut oil or ghee. My teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad, suggests dipping your little finger in oil and lightly applying it to the inside of each nostril. Then, gently sniff to draw the oil upward. Super Nasya Oil is available at my office or directly from ayurveda.com. The Nasya Oil from Banyan Botanicals is also great.
  • Vitamin D3 – I like the liquid form. Carlson is a good brand. 4000-5000 IU daily or as suggested on the bottle or by your practitioner.
  • Wonderful antiviral herbs – ginger, turmeric, licorice, garlic, lomatium, elderberry, astragalus, echinacea, schizandra and cordyceps. Can be taken in tea, tincture, capsule or powder form.
  • Essential oils are highly antimicrobial. You can enjoy them in a home or car diffuser, a hot bath or applied directly on your body, mixed into your massage oil. A few seasonal, Kapha balancing oils I like are: rosemary, eucalyptus, orange, frankincense, thyme, ravensara and lavender.

Ayurveda also teaches us how to boost our immune systems through building Ojas. Ojas is the refined essence of all bodily tissues and maintains cellular immunity. It is the ultimate healing nectar. A person with healthy Ojas has a strong immune system, endurance and a sense of calm and contentment. The amount of Ojas we have is determined by the amount we were born with, the quality of food we eat, and how we nourish ourselves on a daily basis.

Increasing our level of Ojas is not just about building it up, it is also a matter of not losing or wasting it. We may lose this vital energy through the senses, due to overstimulation, which can leave us feeling depleted or overwhelmed. The yogic practice of Pratyahara helps us preserve our vital energy. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. This may look like choosing what news we read and listen to, how much electronic activity we are engaging in and getting proper sleep and rest. Other ways to build ojas include laughter, joy, hugging and stress reducing practices such as walking in Nature and meditation.

May we proceed with kindness toward each other and ourselves as we navigate our wellness paths. It is a good time to connect inward, while, at the same time, not getting too isolated. It is in our connections to each other, ourselves and Nature that we thrive!

Lokah Samastha Sukhinoh Bhanvantu

* May all beings in all places be happy and free *

*** The information provided here is coming from my clinical and personal experience. It is not medical advice. Check with your doctor directly if you are having immune symptoms or seeking medical advice.

 

Sarah Kruse practices at Embrace Ayurveda, within Tilia Natural Health in Seattle.

Learn more about Ayurveda at: EMBRACE-AYURVEDA.COM

 

 

TulipsWith the arrival of Spring comes the blooming of so many different varieties of flowers and blossoms…different ones each week.  While this is so beautiful to experience, it can also be aggravating for those who deal with seasonal allergies.  One of my favorite remedies for respiratory allergies is ‘Super Nasya Oil’, from the Ayurvedic Institute.  It is a wonderful and effective sinus oil that Dr. Lad formulated.  supernasyaoilBenefits include:  lubricating sinuses, preventing allergies by protecting mucus membranes, balancing prana throughout head and body, relaxing muscles of face and neck, and bringing great focus to the mind.  Truly, there are so many benefits.  The suggested dose is 5 drops in each nostril, in the morning, waiting at least 10 minutes before/after food, bathing or sex.  Best to avoid during menses.  Super Nasya Oil is available at:  ayurveda.com.

When pitta season is upon us, we explore the active principles of pitta dosha.

It is during summer that pitta dosha, inherently driven by solar force, is most predominant.It is comprised of the fire and water elements.

Pitta dosha is the expression of radiant energy, both within our bodies and in the universe.

Pacifying pitta during the hot summer season requires living in harmony with the inherent rhythms of Nature and observing patience and compassion with ourselves, others and environment.

One more Ayurvedic gem about supporting healthy Pitta dosha is: ‘Balance effort with surrender’. The very nature of Pitta is to constantly strive and achieve, with passion and persistence.

Surrendering to the flow, breathing and replenishing ultimately lends to a calm, clear mind and body. In this way, our efforts are coming from a grounded and strong place.

And, remember to walk in the moonlight… cooling and nourishing to the whole self.

Steamy Wonder Steam Tent 

I have recently acquired a new steamy wonder steam tent for my practice. Steam treatment, ‘svedana’, enhances Abhyanga treatment and is an integral therapy in Panchakarma.

The client can remain lying down on the massage table after massage. In the hot steam unit, I add herbal teas and essential oils. It feels great, especially in the cooler months of the year.

Svedana is included in the ‘Day of Ayurvedic Rejuvenation’ and ‘Panchakarma’. 

Svedana is an additional $45 add-on to other treatments   You are welcome to come try it out!

Seasonal to fall:

Many people I’ve been talking with are noticing that they have felt a lot of dynamic energy and enthusiasm lately. One’s internal state as well as external, environmental factors influence how we feel. I know that I have felt pulled toward a multitude of activities and opportunities. When this is happening, I try to pause and ask myself: ‘Is this giving energy and nourishing the larger picture or is it taking energy away and potentially depleting me?’ From there I make my decision to go forward or not. During this cooler and active Vata season, Ayurveda advises taking rest, enjoying warming foods & drinks and applying oils, both internally & externally.