Here in Ontario and Quebec, we are being launched into yet another round of severe restrictions and business closures. The toll on our collective well-being is very real, and we feel that it is so vital during these times of enforced isolation and disconnection, to truly take care of our bodies, hearts and minds so that we might weather these external storms and come out the other side healthy, vital and even more resilient.
So we have compiled a list of 13 'Survival' (or shall we call it 'Thrive-al'?) Tips, inspired by the teachings of Ayurveda, to help you navigate these rocky waters while always leaning into and remaining in alignment with Swastha, your innate state of wellness and freedom.
1. BREATHE: Pranayama is the body of ancient yogic breathing techniques. We highly recommend Pranayama such as Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) or Same Vritti (box breath) to regulate the nervous system and flood your body and brain with the cleansing and healing effects of Prana. You can find a library of guided Pranayama instruction here.
2. VITAMIN D: Vitamin D absorption is limited in the winter months, so do be sure to get outside on sunny days and expose as much of you body to the sunlight as possible for at least 20 minutes. And supplement with 4-5000 IU a day of Vitamin D3, while getting your Vitamin D levels tested annually.
3. LIMIT THE NEGATIVE: Ayurveda suggests that every cell of our being is affected by our environment, and this certainly includes the messaging that we intake on a daily basis. Turn off the news and focus your energy on interactions and messaging that uplifts, strengthens and encourages.
4. ROUTINE: Periods of upheaval like this are particularly Vata-imbalancing. Vata Dosha comes back into balance through stability, and a regular routine rooted in predictability and nourishment offers us exactly the medicine that Vata yearns for. Choose 2 or more practices from this list, and dedicate yourself to them every day for the next few months. Try to avoid living a life of constant change, unpredictability and non-safety. Root yourself into relationships that are healing and depthful, in which you can show up fully as yourself.
5. SLEEP WELL: Less sleep or aggravated sleep is both a precursor to Vata imbalance as well as a symptom. Our modern framework of medicine sometimes overlooks the importance of sleep on our overall health and our immunity, in particular. To ensure you are taking your daily dose of sleep-medicine, begin making it a habit of turning off all electronic devices by 8pm (start with just weekdays if this is challenging) and turn off all lights by 10pm. This shift will allow you to naturally align with the natural circadian rhythms, will permit you to wake up earlier with more ease, and will offer you much more energy throughout your day.
6. MOVE: Exercise (Vyayama) is vitally important when we spend more of our time indoors and in a sedentary lifestyle. But Ayurveda highlights that over-exertion or even over-stretching can aggravate Vata and Pitta Dosha. In fact, the ancient texts advised that one should exert themselves to 'half one's strength.' So, do be sure to get in some kind of enjoyable exercise every day, but try not to follow the tendency push to extremes. Exercise will release the Kapha (inertia) that can accumulate from excessive immobility, and will generate more energy for ourselves.
7. CLEANSE: Although this time is not typically the most ideal time of the year to cleanse, due to the fact most of us spent the last month celebrating and imbibing, it can be necessary to remove the Ama (waste) that accumulated throughout December, in January. A Kitchari Cleanse is one of the most gentle, but effective ways to remove toxicity and reset digestion. We offer you the opportunity to cleanse on your own, with our do-it-yourself Kitchari Kits (available for all 3 Doshas and in Tridosha), or in a more supported container, through the Kind Cleanse, a kitchari cleanse delivery service.
8. EAT LIVE FOODS: This time of self-hibernating, of spending more time at home, can offer you the opportunity to bring more of your focus towards preparing nourishing, wholesome and alive meals for yourself rather than eating packaged and processed foods while on the go. Living meals, made of fresh and, if possible, organic ingredients that are made with intention and care will pulse with Prana and Ojas. And just as important as what we eat, is how we eat. Take your food in a calm environment, surrounded by loving family & friends and peaceful energy.
9. WARMTH: Eat and drink only warm and cooked ingredients! Heat stimulates Agni (digestive fire) to burn hot and healthily, while anything cold will douse the internal fire, leading to poor digestion and accumulation of toxicity. Especially try to avoid cold beverages and ice.
10. CONNECT: The overarching narrative of these last two years has been that we should be able to just stay at home alone, stare at screens all day, live in a virtual reality and be contented with it. However, we are non-separate, innately connected beings, and to be forced to cut off from this need to feel and experience our interdependency is to starve ourselves of one of the key ingredients to a thriving life. If you tend towards withdrawal, now is the time to ignore that urge. Pick up the phone. Call someone. Share your heart. Listen to theirs. Empathize. Be curious. Touch your loved ones. Hold them in big embraces. Isolation is and will be the disease of our times, but living in alignment with Nature’s desire for connection is the remedy.
11. GET INTO NATURE: Studies have shown that when we spend excessive time indoors, which is often the case during North American winters, we take in 5-10x more pollutants, thereby implying that we are literally intoxicating ourselves. Luckily, the solution is so simple! Dedicate at least 30 minutes every day outdoors, preferably in natural environments if possible, and intake as much fresh oxygen as you can!
12. DINACHARYA: The Ayurvedic daily routine is your effortless vehicle towards a life lived in Swastha. Waking up before the sun and partaking in these cleansing practices as a lived meditation will have profound impacts on your health and happiness for the rest of your life. In the early hours of the day, cleanse the body of waste, balance the Doshas, strengthen immunity and align with nature's rhythm. It is really that simple.
13. ADAPT: A measure of health and resiliency is our degree of detachment to the incessant fluctuations of the mind, as well as the constant change of external circumstances. Living in this state of compassionate detachment, an expression of lived Sattva (purity, peace) is now more important than ever. We can empty Ayurvedic and adaptogenic herbs as one of the many ways in which we can support our own adaptability, and our Adapt-to-Life Potion is one of the best herbal resources for inner resiliency. In general, take 1tsp-1tbsp of this formula daily, in smoothies, warm water, warm vegan milks, or in nut butter, but do consult with an Ayurvedic Practitioner for personalized recommendations.
We are wishing that this time of collective tension becomes your opportunity for a deepening into your own reorientation to Self, Truth, Nature, community and to a clarifying of what truly matters in this life. Many blessings to all.