Boost Your Immune System!
I've come to love Winter! I'm aware it's not something you hear people shout from the rooftops, but I enjoy this natural period of reflection and cosiness - maybe it's something about being an introvert! Spending more time with family, early nights, essential oils in your bath, reading and cuddles. It's all good for the soul.
Here are my top tips for boosting your immunity
1. Keep warm, especially the middle of your back; warm food and drink
2. Reduce toxins - not just processed food and alcohol, but also social media
3. Appropriate exercise - flowing yoga with a focus on spinal strength, bone density and postural awareness. This is a time to rejuvenate so go easy on the cardio!
4. Massage - learn some simple mini massage routines for yourself and your loved ones
5. Be cosy - early nights and lie-ins. More reading, less screens.
6. Include time for stillness and contemplation in your day; arrive early
It can be a hard ask for busy Mums to stop and take time-out for stillness and contemplation, but once you realise the benefit of just 5 minutes and the effect it has on the efficacy of your day, you won't see it as time lost. The scientific benefits of meditation are incredible. My top tip is to arrive somewhere early (you might have to aim for 15 mins early in order to get 5) - see how you feel on the way, knowing that you have plenty of time to get where you're going. During the special 5 mins, sit in your car, turn the radio off and be a silent witness to your experience. You're not allowed to use the time to make lists of what you need to do - this is strictly for the present moment!
5 MINUTE RESET
Sit nice and comfortably
Move your head up and down and then settle in the middle
Gently close your eyes
Open your sense of hearing wide
Identify each sound you can hear, one by one
Take your time...
After a while, bring your attention to your breath
Breathing in and out of your nostrils
Notice how the air is cool as you breathe in
and warmer as you breathe out.
Imagine the journey of your breath into, around and out of your body...
Notice how the breath moves your body
up, and out
down, and in...
Smile, and move on with your day :)
A FLOWING YOGA PRACTICE will feel really good. Include some cat-cows for spinal mobility, cobra to stimulate your thymus (your body's first response to cold or flu), downward dog to increase circulation and for grounding, lunges for your quads (the powerhouse for germ-busting white blood cells), some big exhales for your lungs - go from standing to forward fold for these - chair pose or a handstand in the kitchen for bone density and to clear congestion (heated poses are great for this) and 10-20 breaths in tree pose for inward withdrawal of the senses. You can incorporate all of these into a flowing sun salutation. Try to make it up as you go along, rather than thinking hard to remember a specific flow. The important part is being in tune with how you feel, so try to switch off your thinking brain.
After a good flow, take some long restorative yin poses - lie on your back, maybe roll up a towel and place it under your spine, then open the arms wide. This is great for opening the lung meridian, and releasing tension in your shoulders. Other great yin poses are seated forward folds (legs straight or wide. Two thirds of the fold should come from the hips, and a third from the spine), fish pose, shoulder stand or legs up the wall, and supine twists. Hold for 5 mins each, but be careful not to overstretch.
This can lead nicely onto meditation. The colour of Winter is blue. Imagine breathing in the colour blue, and breathe it all over your body. Move from one body part to the next, starting by breathing the colour blue into each toe > the lower legs/thighs > the hips/pelvis > the spine/torso > the arms/each finger > the shoulders > the neck > the head, and finally the crown of your head. Imagine the blue colour expanding around you. Enjoy some stillness before returning to awareness...stretch, wiggle. Take 3 long breaths to close your practice.
SHIATSU, ACUPRESSURE or THAI YOGA MASSAGE are all really lovely and easy to do. Try this one for size. Sitting up, tilt your head to the right side (ear towards shoulder) and place your right hand gently between your shoulder and your neck. Enjoy an easy stretch, and repeat the other side. Or, if you're sitting at your desk, lean your eyebrows on your thumbs. Start near the nose and work outwards, leaning for a few seconds on each. If you discover you're holding tension in any of these points, stay a few seconds and notice how the feeling changes, then move on. To finish, smooth your thumbs along your eyebrows, then repeat higher and higher on your forehead, and the same with your fingers along your cheekbones. This is great for headaches and clearing your sinuses.
Winter is here and germs are near, but if you step up the self-care and attune to the season, you'll give yourself a good chance of staying fit and healthy.
Come along to the IMMUNE BOOSTER WORKSHOP on Sat 2 Feb (445-630pm) £18pp including a free pukka gift! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space now.
Shiatsu and Thai Yoga Massage also available upon request with www.loveyogabird.com