This change of season is a time for turning inward. Focusing on our emotions, internal functions and nourishing our body, mind and spirit.
As the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, ultimately we tend to spend more time indoors. To stay in rhythm with nature we must prepare our bodies for this change by eating a healthy seasonal diet, cultivate better breathing habits and choose mindful activities.
Shallow and irregular breathing from stress or exhaustion can make us susceptible to illness, and this time of year when cold/flu season is all around us, one of the most easy and important ways to stay healthy is by breathing correctly.
A simple exercise of equal inhalation and exhalation can bring balance to the body and mind. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your thighs with palms up. Keeping the mouth closed, breath deeply in and out of the nose, pull the breath into the back of your throat and bring it all the way into your belly. Allow the inhale to be the same length as the exhale, counting may be helpful (counting to 5 on the inhale and again on the exhale). Practice this for about 5 minutes, then sit and feel, breathing regularly with eyes still closed. Enjoy the stillness!
Other helpful suggestions to stay healthy naturally:
1. Wash hands throughout the day
2. Keep your hands out of your nose, ears and mouth
3. Stay away from those that are sick
4. Exercise daily
5. Keep a healthy diet of whole grains, organic fruits and vegetables
6. Stay away form alcoholic beverages
7. Up your intake of water, more than 8 glasses a day
8. Re-stock your supply of Echinacea or other immunity boosting herbs
9. Stay home- do your part by not spreading the illness to others
10. Get at least 8 hours of sleep
Most of these reminders are niyamas, which is within one of the 8 limbs of yoga, (asana or physical postures being the most well-known). Practicing saucha (purity) creates cleanliness in the body and mind. This will allow our body to work optimally to fight any invading bacteria. A clean and uncluttered environment will be beneficial as well.
When sickness is in the air try to stay home more often to avoid exposure but also give yourself some stress-free quality time. While at home stock up with healthy goodies and make some home cooked meals. The following recipe is easy and healthy. The miso paste is sold in natural food stores. A cup of miso soup provides an abundant amount of valuable minerals, fat and protein. It also contains healthy bacteria, such as lactobacilli helping to promote healthy digestion. Warm foods are easier on the system, allowing the body to direct its energy where it is needed most.
2 chopped onions
2 chopped carrots
¼ small cabbage, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil
6 cups of water
6 teaspoons of Miso
Lightly sauté the vegetables in oil, then add 6 cups of water to the pan. Simmer for 30 minutes. Dissolve the miso in a cup of hot water and add to the pan 5 minutes before the end of the cooking. Do not boil the soup once the miso has been added to avoid killing the healthy bacteria. Feel free to add any seasonal veggies and seaweed for additional nutrients. Share with loved ones!