A Yogic Approach to Coronavirus: Covid-19
It’s now clear that the Coronavirus is something we all need to take seriously. There seem to be currently two approaches, the relaxed “don’t worry about it, it will all blow over soon” or the manic bulk buying of hand sanitiser, toilet roll and paracetamol. The healthy spot is somewhere in the middle of these two. It’s up to each one of us to make some little changes in our daily habits in order to inhibit the spread of the virus. This article is about the positive steps we can take to protect the people who are most vulnerable to the virus and lessen the burden on our NHS.
Action in Service of Others – Karma Yoga
The actions that we take during this time are in service of our community as well as ourselves. This can change our mind-set around our habits. Being in service to others helps us to act out of love, rather than out of fear. If we have loving kindness in our hearts as we think about our actions this will benefit ourselves and other so much more than if we act in a purely self-serving manner. In addition to all the usual hand-washing moments, which I hope we all know about, I now have some new triggers. I now wash my hands before teaching, after teaching, before going out and after itching my nose – which seems to itch a lot these days! As I wash my hands and nails, I think of all the elder people and friends who’re more at risk. I send them my love and good wishes of health and happiness. This has the effect of lengthening my hand washing time and connecting me to my heart. It also makes the process much more enjoyable… try it!
Purity and Cleanliness – Saucha
The coronavirus outbreak has caused me to have a rethink about sanitising yoga mats. I started out spraying the mats with a combination of anti bacterial and viral essential oils. Now I’m using Dettol. Not as sweet smelling and natural, but it’s a proven virus killer. I’m recommending that people bring their own yoga mats or a yoga mat towel. The mat towels are good because you can pop them in wash in between classes. For more about how I’m currently managing sanitising in the yoga studio classes see this article here.
Mind over Matter
A holistic view of health recognises that our immune systems are affected by our emotions. This piece of research shows that people with a more positive mind-set (calm, optimistic, having a life purpose) are less likely to contract a cold or flu virus. It also showed that they suffer less from the symptoms if they do.
Supporting our mental, emotional and spiritual health is just as important as supporting our physical health. In yoga we can do this by relaxing, bring our attention away from the circling thoughts of the mind and to the calm observation of body and the breath. In this way we have more control over what we choose to think. We can choose to think more helpful positive thoughts rather than those that drain us of our vitality and positivity. In the context of Coronavirus I think an important message is to learn what you can do to help, stick to that and don’t worry about things that are out of your control.
Healthy Lifestyle Boost
One thing that is under our control is the food, drink and substances that we choose to ingest. As we all know, this can have a big effect on our health. Instead of going into panic (which can increase stress and therefore our tendency to eat unhealthily, smoke and drink more) we can choose to live a really healthy life in the next few weeks and months. In fact, if we become more mindful of our food choices, and how our diet affects our energy and health we’ll be better able to support our health well into the future. We can fundamentally and positively affect our lives by making positive dietary choices.
Some guidelines for a Healthy Lifestyle
Go to bed earlier so you get more sleep. Rest more during the day (particularly if your night time sleep isn’t refreshing)
Drink plenty of water – warm water with lemon and ginger is ideal, also herbal teas (sage, thyme, peppermint) and green tea
Eat more green vegetables, berries and green juices, apples, pears.
Move towards a more vegetarian diet; however good quality chicken stock can be supportive.
Cut out: sugar (it’s terrible for your immune system); pre prepared foods (ready meals, crisps, biscuits, cakes etc etc); smoked and cured foods (ham, bacon etc); alcohol (a little is ok if you tolerate it well); trans fats and processed cooking oils.
Enjoy fresh air, nature, walking, hugs and fun.
Use herbs to support, see this page for herbal remedies for colds and flu.
Build Your Immunity For Life
Having to think more about our immunity and how our own health can impact on others has the potential to help us to create some positive changes in our lives. Let’s see this time as an experiment in becoming healthier, happier, more conscious and considerate of others. Our interconnectedness has many benefits, especially if we value, respect and take care of ourselves and others.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(This is a blessing for wellbeing, happiness and peace for all people everywhere.)