From my own healing journey as well as knowledge from my studies, I have learned that disease stems from disharmony in the body. If you dissect the word itself you’ll notice that it is “dis- ease,” in other words, there is a lack of ease somewhere and it could be stemming from the mental or the physical body which could be stemming from the mental or the physical. I bring this up because of the current state of affairs, which I want to say respectfully now, I am sending my love and ultimate respect to anyone who reads this that has lost a loved one or is suffering themselves currently from the virus. Below are my personal rituals for health that keep my immune system strong and my mind clear during times of increased stress.
Currently, I am an Ayurvedic practitioner in training past studies/certifications on primal methods of healthy & holistic living for the past 7 years: YTT, CMT, western herbalism, aromatherapy, culinary, the subtle and energy body (chakra system) and a dedication to my own health journey with nutrition and various gut health methods dealing with immune triggers and parasitic infections. I am here to share with you my personal rituals and suggestions during these chaotic times that I have found to be a major help with our current realities. Health has become more than a passion, it is now a lifestyle that I hold my own power with. In the times of losing my focus, I choose to return to my empowerment and re-making my health my mission, my focus, and my life path. I hold my own hand right back into vitality with full compassion and least resistance, and find that love is more supportive in this journey than being driven by fear.
A virus can be terrifying when it threatens to take our precious lives, especially since we have steered so far away from ritual with death in our culture. This thought itself can cause tension and stress in the body and without notice, we carry it every day, lowering our chance to fight disease because we stay in that state of a lack of ease. Anxiety and fear are branches from basic stress and are things that people deal with on a daily basis. When we stay in our stress, our body experiences the “fight or flight” effect, leaving us in our sympathetic nervous system. Our body is literally trying to fight what it thinks is life threatening which then releases hormones called adrenaline and cortisol throughout our body. Those hormones can cause an excess in our heart rate, shortness of breath, tightness in our bowels, etc. This is meant to only truly operate when there is an emergency situation and is not meant to feel (even a softly) every single day. Once this sensation is over, we re-enter our parasympathetic nervous system which has the opposing effect from SNS. Too much of this back and forth has a powerful hold on our immune system which over time will drain our bodies. If you are a person that is very sensitive to the effects of caffeine or stimulants, then you can think of this as the crashing effect.
Fear and stress start to steal moments of our precious lives, becoming all we breath, eat, sleep, and talk about. Can you feel the current fluttering of energy around in the world? The desire to fight it is there, the awareness is there. We have the power to change the focus from fear based decisions to decisions made from hope and love. I believe that now is all we have we and we can use this as an opportunity to make changes, not just for the world but really for ourselves as individuals. If we start with ourselves and truly become our own master and teacher, the way that we can positively impact one another will become limitless. The habits we can start to introduce will slowly become who we are, connecting us back to ritual, the old ways of life that our ancestors lived. Just as the earth knows how to heal itself, our bodies can do the same. With the proper dedication and tools, we can fight back and make a change.
Where do moments that cause SNS and PNS present themselves to you? Is it overworking, social media, over-socializing with non-nourishing interactions? Are you eating the right whole and nourishing foods, taking herbs when needed, giving your body proper somatic exercises, limiting stimulants and caffeine intake, etc.? Life is all about balance and at first, a change in the lifestyle can feel like a complete shock but in the end, it will become so effective that it’ll become who you are. Trust me, I still fall back into old patterns of excess with my vices, especially with coffee and chocolate which almost immediately trigger an immune response in my body when I over consume. However, as irritating it can be having to deal with health issues, I am committed and determined to stay happy and healthy. So, what do I do? I continue to push on forward with my breath and focus my mind on the goals, the sensations I feel when I feel good and then I just continue to let go and enjoy my life. I’m riding this train with you and truly believe this is an amazing opportunity for a lot of us to regain the motivation to make changes in our lives and come back together in our truth.
I don’t want to lie and say that this is the easiest of processes, but I can say the ultimate result of being more present within ourselves becomes the most rewarding gift. There is something special and mysteriously juicy about being in love with life again, even with destruction around. In Ayurvedic medicine and its sister science, yoga, I’ve learned a number of beautiful stories of archetypes which each hold shadows and light within themselves, yet there is always a solution and intertwining on the struggles becoming the greatest teachers. Everything results back to loving ourselves and life again, looking at all the new-found treasures. Both Ayurveda and yoga teach us devotion to something beyond our self but always remembering that it starts with self. We must fall in love with our own self, spiritually and physically.
I find when I start to give myself these times of solitude where I engage in the presence of my day with focus on happiness and feeling good, I get to truly be myself and be happy. I feel connected to spirit, hope and a love for what is still beautiful in this world. I live again like no one is watching. I almost feel like I was swept into a tornado of paranoia in the last year or two (longer than I expected), feeling I must document everything, know everything, and be everything and if I wanted to rest and do nothing with one of my days, I’d be punished for it. I’m finding that it is much more enjoyable when I give myself this discipline to just be with myself, understanding my body and how I can have a tremendous impact on the way it functions internally and externally. It definitely takes consistent self-motivation, and the deepest amount of trust and compassion to continue coming back to being with your body and its rhythm, but at the end of the day, there is no other motivation than that which keeps you coming to the practices these sister sciences have to offer.
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating whole organic foods? Do you keep your main extremities warm during this time of year? Are you washing your hands and keeping up with basic hygiene principles? Are you washing your vegetables especially if they come from anywhere but your own garden? These are basic questions that help me personally come back to why. With all this being said, here are some rituals I include in my life daily that I have found to be most effective in strengthening the immune and happy muscles.
Rituals for Health
With all this being said, here are some rituals for health I include in my life daily that I have found to be most effective in strengthening the immune and happy muscles:
• Yoga, picking a kind that you resonate with and let yourself evolve with it. If you’re inspired to try a few different kinds, go for it. Just try and really pay attention to which ones you can be the most present in.
• Dancing of any kind, especially in an energized, respectful space (like ecstatic dance for instance), is an amazing way to raise overall positive vibration in the body. Finding different archetypes of ourselves that we can play with that start to lead to the mysteries of our muscles and skin. Unraveling stories that were stuck and bringing our energy body back into balance
• Hiking (nature walks)
• Cutting down social media time!… I can’t stress this one enough. Social media can do a lot to our basic psychology that we are not even aware of. How can living in a world of feeling we always need to share what we are doing to everyone else make us feel calm? It comes back to that feeling of someone always watching, anxiety at its fullest. I do believe it can be a great tool to share and be inspired, so limiting to a small amount a day can help show the positives in all ways.
• Alone time (more important than we think. How else are we going to be able to really see where we are stressing ourselves out if we keep filling our days to the point of not even knowing who we are anymore?)
• Self-care rituals like baths, self-body massage, etc.
• Cranial Sacral! I’ve completely fallen in love with this
• Good sleep
• Music lessons
• Time with animals
To keep the immune system healthy, another important thing to remember is to take time and clear your bowels. Yes, pooping is a very important thing that for some reason has become “shameful” or “embarrassing” to talk about with one another. An herb to help with this is: 2 tsp of licorice powder daily if you are having trouble with consistent moments 2-3 times a day. Enemas 1 week on and 1 week off is another method if you are in need to cleanse or just got through with being sick. Enemas at least twice a month is suggested for optimal health.
Spring is what we in Ayurveda call Kapha season, with Kapha as the ruler of the immune system and vitality within us. Wet, damp, heavy, and sluggish. Very similar to the sensations we feel when sick.
Eating foods that mimic the dosha will cause an imbalance in our immune system’s response to fight off invaders and can keep us sick if we are already sick.
Warming, nourishing, and pungent are ways to evacuate the mucus that Kapha can bring. Spices + cooking herbs like coriander, cilantro, sage, thyme, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, and asafetida. All are brilliant, effective, and delicious ways to add some nourishment into our food’s warming and nourishing modalities. Some are digestic and some are going to help expel any excess mucoid plaque still lingering around. For all my fermenting friends, switching kraut with kimchi is more effective during this time due to kraut being cooling and alkalizing and kimchi is warming. Bring in soups, broths, limit carbs but add in carb-y proteins like legumes, and never forget your leafy greens that present themselves around this time. Limit avocados, cold drinks, chocolate, sugars, bananas, and airy like chips, etc. We want simplicity for our digestive tract. I suggest start to really pay attention to how something starts to make you feel and if it adds mucous or sluggishness, remove it from your diet temporarily.
Some of my favorite adaptogens, diaphoretics, warming, and nervine herbs I’d like to share with you are:
• Elderberry syrup
• Echinacea tincture or tea
• Orange peel
• California poppy
An important reminder is that to be effective, herbs need to be taken daily and not just once a week. It takes a minute to get into the routine but once you are in it, it becomes as easy as making your morning coffee. I suggest looking at the ones that pop out to you and reach out to me or another herbalist friend who can help you learn how these will affect your body’s current state. With this information, have a ritual drink or tincture daily, and start to feel the magic of our plant allies.
(If pregnant, please consult with a practitioner near you to make sure they are safe for your pregnancy)
• Blood Orange
• Cardamon (on belly for digestive support)
• Tulsi (lung support)
• Palo Santo*
• Clary sage
*The essential oils that have a star next to them can be made into a blend and put on a handkerchief in a jar. Take it with you on a plane and breath it in throughout the flight. Feel free to email me for further detail on that one. Also, during this season I use either Ravansara or Elemi daily. I take four drops, rub together and rub over my lymph where my jaw is and also, I rub it on my chest. Tulsi is another to use on the chest for respiration.
So, what’s the key to health? Health is always evolving, so learning to flow with it is the key.
- Limit fear
- Make lifestyle changes that bring in more vitality
- Incorporate ancient ways of being and living into your daily life to connect us truly back to the mother (our earth)
- Be with the seasons
- Trust your plant allies
- Trust each other,
- Still try and live life to the fullest even amongst the chaos that’s being presented
- Spend time with loved ones
- Do things that bring you joy
- Somatic breath
- and connect deeply back to yourself.
These are our roots and trusted companions which help us through our lives. For some added support, stay hydrated, start taking vitamins C + D, and make sure you get good rest. Another thing, I highly suggest getting outside everyday for even fifteen minutes in nature along with cutting down your caffeine intake.
Please feel free to email me for any support or extra rituals for health that I didn’t list here at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are nervous about any of these suggestions, please consult your health care provider before trying.
My information has come from many teachers throughout the years and I am currently studying at the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol California. Blessed be to you all.
Chelsea Shapouri is a Lifestyle Consultant for women and an Elemental Yoga Instructor based in Santa Cruz, CA. In her work, she offers Ayurvedic lifestyle modalities, Yoga, Breath work, Meditations, and Ayurvedic Recipes. Every client and student is rare and special to her. Chelsea’s mission is to find their unique rhythm, their primal-natural state, and from there support them with techniques and recipes that are meant for their bio-individuality. Harmony for the emotional body, physical body, and mental state is the embodiment she lives by and wishes to offer. Bringing people back home to themselves with techniques they can simply do themselves is what she lives for. The art of service is the art of love and she shares what has helped her heal for the hope to help others heal. Stay connected to Chelsea and read her story through social media or her website: Primal Harmony