The following are suggestions to add to your regular routines. Please consult your doctor if you have any serious symptoms.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions around the world, during this time you must still stay home as much as possible. Essentially this means if you are unsure about going to an event…. don’t go. Understand that this year, 2020, is your time of nesting and of introspection, as free as you can be from distractions outside the home. Followers of Vipassana will be familiar with this philosophy: only by reducing external influences, can we get to the core of what our body is telling us. It is not always comfortable, but with some self-reflection and nurturing it can become an inspirational time for each of us. Of course, this is very different to Vipassana as we have access to phones, television, email as well as whatever personal interactions we have included in our routines. But the idea is the same. But as Vipassana teaches us, impermanence is the only constant: this will not last forever.
Sometimes we are forced to be in areas where many people frequent, such as our workplaces - especially those that are open to the public such as supermarkets – as well as public transport and elevators. While social distancing measures have been regulated in many public spaces, there is still much that is unknown about how far the virus spreads and how long it can remain airborne, and we don’t know who may have been in that elevator, shopping aisle or café queue 20 minutes earlier when the virus can last in the air for several hours. So, it’s wise to try to protect yourself as much as you can in these areas.
There is no doubt that face masks will absolutely help reduce viral transmission from the wearer to the rest of the public, and this will also assist to contain the spread from asymptomatic individuals; but masks will also offer some protection against contracting the virus from infection in the community. This needs to be reinforced by maintaining a distance between you and others and handwashing with soap before you touch your face. If using a cloth barrier such as a scarf, these need to be rotated every day and ideally washed after each use. There is evidence that suggests that while cloth masks can provide some protection for the wearer, the fibres can trap the virus and potentially be a source of infection. Recent evidence has suggested using a triple layer cloth mask. If you cannot wash them after each use, leave it at least three days before using the same scarf over your nose and mouth.
With infection travelling through the air, you should reduce your exposure to the air outside as well as controlling the air element in your bodies. Sesame oil is excellent for this. Before going out, wipe sesame oil at the entrance of your ear canals and nostrils. This will reduce the entry of Vata energy into your body from outside.
Note, this will not substitute for protective barriers such as masks, and other personal equipment which you should still use.
This technique is also beneficial for individuals who have anxiety, insomnia, arthritis or neurological conditions such as epilepsy. These classic Vata disorders will be exacerbated by the entry of air energy into the body, even without a virus and many of these people find windy weather very unsettling. Sealing the entry points with sesame oil can also be beneficial when in cold dry weather, such as in the mountains, flights and areas with high wind flow. At this time, you should also reduce the Vata producing foods in your diet. Foods should be well cooked and mixed together – soups, stews and risottos are ideal – and earthy root vegetables such as potato, carrots and foods with a high-water content like zucchini. Roasting zucchini provides a sweet taste which pacifies Vata. Also reduce the following vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, beans and chickpeas. Avoid too much coffee, even decaffeinated, as this has the bitter taste that can aggravate Vata.
you must consult your local medical practitioner immediately who will decide how to proceed from there. Most likely you will have a cold or flu virus but depending on your symptoms and the protocols in your area you may be tested for Coronavirus. If you are found to be positive for Coronavirus, please follow the advice of your usual doctor who is familiar with your history and can appropriately manage your presentation. If you do not have Coronavirus infection but have respiratory symptoms, be aware that inflamed, raw tissues in the lining of your nose and throat can attract secondary infections. Often these will be bacterial, but they can also provide a focus for other viral infections, so you need to stay home until all symptoms are completely resolved. If you must go out when you are unwell, there are a few things you can do that will help. Where possible travel by car from door to door. Use the above tips such as wearing a face mask and sesame oil at the air entry points, as well as warm scarf around the neck.
If you have a sore throat, a tablespoon of medicated honey can soothe and coat the inside area of the mouth helping to reduce the exposed inflammation.
These oils can be sourced from most health food stores. Mix all ingredients and take a spoonful before you step out letting it melt inside your mouth. If you have an intolerance to honey, then coconut oil pulling can also assist. If you have a chesty cough with a lot of mucous, Irish Moss or Senega and Ammonia are good expectorants, very cheap and available at chemists. Alternatively, chopped raw onion mixed with honey is a great expectorant to clear those lungs. For wet, ‘boggy’ sinus pain, dry roast Ajwain seeds in a pan and inhale the smoke. For dry sinus pain, steam inhalation with lavender or eucalyptus oil will help.
Keeping a distance from others and practising good hygiene will reduce your chances of contracting Coronavirus. But if you do, how can you keep your immune system optimised to help avoid the worst effects?
Our Immune system is essential to the body’s core, and like everything else, its functioning is unique to the individual. While it’s important to protect against Vata energy when going outside, especially as winter approaches, the rest of us with a Pitta or Kapha disposition need to ensure our doshas remain in balance. Eating well, sleeping adequately, appropriate exercise as well as regular bowel eliminations are the fundamentals to keeping your body balanced. For all the doshas, to attain optimum immune health for your type it is important to ensure your bowels are clean and empty. This allows your system to identify what it needs to bring it gently into balance. Once we are free from blockages and congestion, our body easily knows what it needs physically, emotionally and intellectually to satisfy and bring it into harmony.
In order to ensure your bowels are empty, you should have at least one to two bowel motions a day. To assist complete evacuation, your knees should be higher than your hips, so try resting your feet on any solid blocks when you are on the toilet. Avoid food that is hard to digest such as melted cheese and try to start your morning off with oatmeal at least a few times a week. This has an effective cleansing effect on the bowel and your stools will become full and easy to pass. If you are taking Vitamin C supplements, which you should, this can serve as a gentle laxative. Unless you have significant constipation, you should avoid strong laxatives as they can strip essential structures from an empty bowel. Once the bowel is clear, and there are regular movements each day, maintaining healthy function can be assisted by your choice of probiotics. Eat in accordance with your doshic type and find activities that support your unique make-up. For some it can be the harmony of music, the satisfaction mastering a new skill or the joy in watching a plant grow.
Several of us are on a lockdown or quarantine to one extent or another and we all have quite different circumstances and reactions to being housebound. For some of us it is not much different to usual – either working from home, or at the office where work may be busier, quieter or much the same. Others are on something of an enforced vacation – binge watching Netflix or learning a foreign language or instrument. For those with school aged children at home it can be a challenging time, as with those trying to keep track of teenagers. Some of us live alone and the solitude can be both enjoyable and daunting. Others live with one or more people, maybe even someone you don’t get along with and need to balance dealing with partners of housemates and elderly parents. And finally, some of us do not have the security of a home – perhaps an uncertain tenancy, a relationship end or being between places.
Whatever your circumstance, the way through this will be unique for each of us and starts with balancing and nourishing your dosha.
While reducing excess Vata is a major factor, those with other doshic imbalances need to be mindful they do not develop imbalance. Kapha individuals need to ensure they do not get too chesty, keep any asthma under control and avoid the temptation to over-snack and therefore weight gain. Kapha people tend to feel the absence of human contact more than other types, so a Kapha-balancing diet is important to follow at this time. For those who have a Pitta dosha, channelling that intellectual drive into another pursuit can help with the feelings of frustration. Pittas with blood pressure conditions need to ensure they are taking their medication, as Covid-19 has a predilection for those with heart and blood pressure conditions.
For Vatas, the sooner a regular routine is established the better, with adequate warm foods and liquids. Vata people with excessive anxiety or insomnia can find relief by putting sesame oil on the soles of their feet at night.
Many people are reportedly drinking more alcohol now than they have before. In many ways this is understandable. The absence of a regular work schedule, the stresses that have emerged during a confined space either alone or with others on a background of general community anxiety and fear make it too easy to reach for something we know has provided comfort in the past. While alcohol is a toxin, and therefore can dampen the dampen the body’s digestive fire, in moderation it is completely acceptable to use during lockdown.