Tag Archives: immune system

Immunity Boosters

20 Jan

If you’re in the mode of stockpiling face masks, hand sanitizers, chicken soup, cold and flu medication, I would like for you to consider this: Your best protection against common airborne illnesses starts within. When you build a strong immune system from the inside out, and don’t sabotage your healthy status with habits that hinder your body’s ability to fight off infection and illness you are able to maintain a state of well-being during the most challenging times. Of course its also very necessary for you to wash your hands as often as possible with good old fashion soap and water.

During this time of year there’s a lot of talk about the Immune system and keeping it healthy and well. But you may be wondering just how do I do this. What do I need to do to keep myself and my family health and well? Do the “things” I hear about movement, herbs and all that natural stuff really work?

Here’s the deal…

Sitting around and doing nothing AKA lack of physical exercise can reduce immunity in two ways. It can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep and can lead to obesity.  Now if you are someone that sits at a desk all day, this lack of movement can leave you and your immune system feeling sluggish. But wait here is a simple solution; regular, moderate exercise will make a difference and you will feel the effects immediately. It is best to aim for a daily brisk walk of 30 minutes a day. If you can’t get 30 minutes at one time, you can break this up into 3 10- minute walks. And if you can’t get out for a walk do 3 sets of 10 jumping jacks every 1 ½ to 2 hours. Exercise is great because it increases leukocyte levels in the body and these are the cells that fight infection and keep our bodies healthy and well.

It’s also a great idea to eat as much whole foods as possible, especially organic fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and veggies for their antioxidants components and their nutrients that protect the cells from free radical damage. Free radical cellular damage has (www.youtube.com/rochelemarielawson) been implicated in heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system causing you to be more vulnerable in both the body and mind. Another benefit of eating whole foods…  They help you manage your weight.

Short-term stress may initially boost immunity but chronic stress does the opposite. Chronic stress depletes your immune system exposing your body to a floodgate of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline; which causes havoc on the body and the mind. Learning relaxation techniques, perhaps through yoga, meditation www.meditationsforbliss.com or tai chi, can also boost your immune system and improve your sleep too.

Namaste,

 

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN,AHP,CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous

Host of Blissful Living Show

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Creating Inner Peace, Ojas-Style

14 Jul

This is the last of four blog posts about ojas, the Ayurvedic term for your immune system (read last week’s post HERE. Let’s take a look at practices that foster inner peace.

Silence and Self-Reflection

We can get so critical of ourselves if we feel we aren’t achieving enough or being grateful for who we are. This is something I do a lot. Instead of criticizing yourself for not living up to your own expectations, remember to reflect and go into peaceful silence.

Something as simple as relaxation actually replenishes the ojas. Take a little time for yourself during the day to find silence. That rest can help you maintain vital inner and outer beauty. It doesn’t have to take a long time; two to five minutes is plenty. Sit in silence (with your eyes closed if you can) and strengthen your ability to engage in self-reflection. You can do it in the car, radio off, or if you’re in the bathroom do a slow, deep breathing practice for a minute or two.

Appreciating yourself helps cultivate a more positive mental state, which allows you to build ojas in a naturally graceful way. Even if there are people in your life you’d rather kill, be grateful because they’re here to teach you something!

When you’re grateful for those experiences instead of being critical or beating yourself up, you’ll feel happier, for one, and that feeds the ojas, which gives a lasting sense of contentment. Whenever you’re in a grateful state you step away from the opposite.

Gratitude tends to magnetize more contentment into your life, and when you’re content that’s a phenomenal way to naturally build up ojas.

A Peaceful Pose

Unknown-2Peaceful poses reinforce healthy ojas. If you practice one peaceful yoga pose a day before you go to bed, in class during the day or during your morning ritual, you’ll build your ojas.

I like to do child’s pose – anyone familiar with yoga knows child’s pose. The more relaxed you get, the deeper you sink into the yoga mat – it feels wonderful. Another great pose is shavasana, when you lie prone for several minutes. The longer you do it the more relaxed you get. It also just feels great.

Evening Calm Down Routine

This a wind-down ritual that helps you sleep very well at night. Fill the bath with warm water and add one to three cups of Epsom salts. You can find versions made with lavender, milk and honey or eucalyptus. I recommend the lavender, and then add a tablespoon of honey, two cups of whole milk and a few drops of lavender essential oil under the running water.

You can also add other essential oils depending on what your dosha is: for vata dosha, use rose or geranium; for pitta dosha, use frankincense and for kapha, use juniper. Light a candle and sit in the bath for 20 minutes. Optionally, you could light an incense stick if you want.

I guarantee if you do this evening calm down ritual, you will sleep phenomenally well, whether you’ve just been to the gym or had a stressful day. Not only will you sleep really well, you’ll be building ojas and will smell super yummy!

What healthy rituals do you do to decompress? Share your practices in the comments below.

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

Ojas – Stoking Your Digestive Fire

30 Jun

In this third of four blogs about our ojas (read the previous blog post HERE), I’m going to focus on a vital component of building a strong digestive fire: how and what we eat. Let’s go!

Food, Glorious Food

Unknown-1A conscious, mindful eating practice and healthy digestion helps us build our ojas. Be very selective about what you put into your bodies to keep strong during cold and flu season.

Although there are now ‘healthier’ options available at restaurants like McDonald’s or Jack in the Box, do your best to avoid food grabbed on the fly, especially fast food. Get the highest quality, organic, non-GMO food you can afford.

Become One with Your Meal

Don’t wolf it down! These days, people often don’t connect with their food. Taking the time to be mindful sets you up to receive the food properly and actually stokes the digestive fire.

Take a few minutes to be thankful for your food. As you eat your yummy meal, the digestive fire gets hotter, allowing food to be metabolized in an appropriate way. Then you won’t have pieces of undigested food sitting in your body creating ama (toxins) that then get pushed through the digestive tract.

What’s the benefit? Keeping the body in balance blocks illness from coming in. Illness only happens when we’re in an imbalanced state or not taking in proper nutrition. Healthy food is your prime energy source.

Some especially healthy foods include organic milk, almonds, sesame, honey, rice, pineapple, mango, kale and spinach. It’s not necessary to eat these foods exclusively but incorporating more of them into your diet increases the quality of your nutrition.

Good Fat

Cooking with clarified butter, known as ghee, builds ojas. You’ll get the yummy taste of butter without the unhealthy fats. Omega 3s, mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are great sources of healthy fat, and remember to use coconut oil for cooking. Olive, almond, chia and flaxseed are also excellent oils to not only build ojas, but they’re great for heart health as well. Women with a higher intake of healthy fat have firmer, smoother skin!

A Magical Recipe

Stay away from white or any processed sugars. They promote inflammation, which can lead to a whole host of diseases, and will decrease your ojas. Use stevia or agave instead, or add mango or coconut to your plate so you can have a sweet without adding something bad to your diet.

When I talk about sweets, know that I really had to work on it because I’m a sugar addict! Rice pudding contains the good fats I talked about and gives you the sweetness you want. Gather these ingredients:

  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 4 cups organic milk (I prefer almond or coconut milk because I’m lactose intolerant)
  • 4-6 cardamom seeds – bruise them a little to allow the essential spice to come out
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/8th to ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder)
  • 2–4 TBS honey or organic agave syrup
  • 1 handful of pistachios or almonds. Almonds are good for all doshas.

Rinse off the raw rice. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the rice, milk, cardamom and cinnamon and bring to a boil over low heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn. Check the texture and cook until the mixture is slightly thick but easy to stir. Remove the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods (unless you used the powders). Stir in the agave or honey and let it cool. Toss in the nuts. I also like to add raisins or goji berries.

When I was pregnant with my daughter this was the only thing I could eat in the morning that didn’t cause morning sickness and was very nurturing to both of us. Funny that now my daughter doesn’t like rice pudding!

Do you have a favorite healthy go-to snack that’s healthy and satisfying? Share in the comments below how you build healthy ojas!

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

How to Strengthen Your Ojas

16 Jun

In a previous blog post, I defined ojas, agni and ama, the three building blocks that contribute to a healthy immune system (read it HERE). Now let’s jump in and talk about specific steps you can take to strengthen your ojas!

Worry – A Great Way to Ruin Your Day

It happens to all of us. First thing in the morning, we might find ourselves worrying about our day, compulsively checking email or Facebook or thinking about problems. This habit sets us up to not have a good day. A worried, depressed state also disrupts our ojas, particularly if it becomes a chronic habit.

Rather than hit the ground running, create a slower-paced morning ritual that allows you to connect to the part of your body and mind that’s happy to be alive. Make a choice to consider the beauty of what the day has to offer without worrying about everything else around you.

The Morning Ritual

This is what I do on a daily basis when I’m not traveling. To set the tone to handle daily life, I wake up in bed and take a couple of slow, deep breaths. I give thanks for the day and slowly get up. In the bathroom, I wash my face and go through my elimination process.

I recommend using healthy oils on your skin. Use an oil like sesame prior to getting in the shower, then reapply after you get out. It nourishes the skin and helps curtail dryness. Sesame oil is a little bit heavier and nurtures all the body tissues. Lighter oils that I suggest are almond or sunflower. For fall and winter, make coconut oil your last choice if you can’t find the others. It works just as well, but tends to have a cooling effect on the skin so it’s best suited for the warm weather months.

images-1Tea and Meditation

Once I’m up, showered and dressed, I light a candle and maybe some incense. I sit down and meditate for a few minutes and finish the ritual with a cup of tea. Somehow a lovely, steaming cup of tea anchors me to go forth confidently through my day.

Try it yourself for a week and see if you notice how the tone you set in the morning lasts throughout the day to maintain that calm.

How do you usually start your day and is it setting the tone you really want? Let me know in the comments!

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect

Know Your Ojas!

2 Jun

This is the first of four posts to investigate the topic of ojas. Let’s dive in!

What is it?

In Ayurveda, ojas is the end product of good digestion and metabolism and is believed to connect consciousness and matter. In the West it’s more commonly referred to as your immune system or your immunity.

When we talk about strengthening your ojas, we mean building your immune system. A strong ojas keeps you free from illness and disease. Ayurveda is all about balancing your mind and body to prevent illness.

Our Inner Fire

images One of the most important principals in Ayurveda is the maintenance of the health of your agni, or digestive fire. If you don’t have strong digestive fire, you can’t efficiently absorb the nutrients and elements you take in.

A strong agni helps us digest properly and also process all aspects of life including the experiences and memories we have and the impressions we pick up from our environment. Efficiently burning food also staves off excess weight.

Strong vs. Weak

Strong agni, including our day-to-day experiences in life, creates a more balanced state, which aids in the prevention of illness. Weak agni doesn’t properly absorb nutrients and creates toxic buildup, waste and residue. That buildup is called ama (toxins), which get stuck in the colon and putrefy. Yuck.

Ojas, agni and ama go hand-in-hand to create a healthy, balanced body. Strong ojas helps us experience the nectar of life – now you understand what they are and why they’re important.

Next week, I’ll give you some tips you can start using right away to strengthen your ojas, so stay tuned!

What steps do you take to keep yourself in a balanced state? Share your comments below!

Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.

Namaste,

Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS

The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect