How’s your ojas these days?
That’s the Sanskrit word for the immune system, and we all can use a little boost in that department.
Ojas needs a combination of healthy lifestyle choices, said Carly Beaudin, clinical ayurvedic specialist and owner and founder of Ancient Heart Ayurveda. (Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine in India that seeks to balance body through diet, herbs and lifestyle choices.)
When we make good health choices, our immune systems naturally strengthen and we can fight off the germs that enter our systems on a daily basis. Beaudin has a number of suggestions to work into your daily routine. Imagine each one as a deposit in the bank of your future good health.
1 Happy digestion. Healthy, strong digestion is the golden fleece in ayurveda. Take an honest look at the foods and beverages you consume. Pay attention to those that give you gas, constipation, indigestion or a heaviness in your body. You want to get to a point where you are able to digest everything. For now, avoid the substances that make your body unhappy, and work on improving digestion by adding spices to foods you know work well in your system.
2 Take more herbs. Two that build ojas in everyone are amalaki and ashwaganda.
Amalaki has the highest concentrated form of vitamin C in any plant life. You can order it online or find it at herbal apothecaries. Ashwaganda traditionally has been prescribed to help strengthen the immune system after an illness. You can take them in capsule form or place a teaspoon of the whole herb in a cup of warm water.
A third excellent ojas builder is ghee, which is clarified butter. You can buy it at most grocery or natural food stores.
3 Use essential oils. There are hundreds of oils, such as tea tree and eucalyptus, to choose from, Beaudin said, and they’re all anti-fungal and anti-bacterial by nature. Anytime you use them, you help kill bacteria and boost the immune system.
To use: Take warm baths and add essential oils. Make room sprays by putting filtered water into a bottle and adding drops of oil to it. Spray counters, hands, yoga mats – anything that might carry germs.
To help fight the flu, Beaudin recommends eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, ginger, cardamom and clove.
4 Move your body and your breath. Yoga and meditation always are recommended, Beaudin said.
“Whatever it takes to get off the couch, do it,” she said.
5 Rest and rejuvenation. Prepare for the sunshine and activity associated with summer and its longer, light-filled days.
But too much sleep can be as bad for the immune system as too little sleep, Beaudin said.
“Oversleeping we can get away with in the summer,” she said. “A good rule of thumb is eight hours, but between seven to nine is a good window.”