Tag Archives: Health

Breath, Body, Mind.

There is increasing evidence demonstrating the relationship between emotional stress and the depletion of our immune system. Research shows how the immune system appears to benefit from the practice of yoga by encouraging ‘coherence’in the rhythm of the heart beat, as opposed to ‘chaos’.

In the body, the main agent of our immune system is our blood, a clear fluid (plasma) containing red and white blood cells. It is the white blood cells that inhibit the invasion of the blood stream by bacteria and viruses. The production of antibodies is a major function of the immune system and is carried out by special white blood cells called B cells (B lymphocytes). Antibodies can be triggered by and directed at foreign proteins, microorganisms, or toxins – antigens. An immunoglobulin is a specialized immune protein produced because of the introduction of an antigen into the body, and which possesses the remarkable ability to combine with the very antigen that triggered its production.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the body’s front line defense against infectious agents. IgA is present in all the mucous membranes of the body. When volunteers were asked to recall an occasion when they became stressed or angry, and by doing so induced a chaotic heart rhythm, their secretions of IgA dropped for an average of 6 hours.

Negative emotions appeared to have a negative effect on the immunity of the volunteers, unless they had learned how to induce ‘coherence’. Research showed that those who had learned simple techniques for quieting their heart and brain through yogic breathing techniques could maintain coherence in the heart rate, and thus reduce the likelihood of a drop in their IgA levels.

We have two types of immunity – natural and acquired. Natural immunity is non- specific, and you could say that someone with a ‘strong constitution’ probably has good natural immunity. In contrast, the body can also acquire immunity, through its response to infection or vaccination. It is through the breathing practices and their effects on the heart that yoga strengthens both types of immunity.

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Colds & ‘Flu – protection through a healthy immune system

Research is beginning to show the relationship between emotional stress and the depletion of the immune system, and suggests that, alongside all the practical and nutritional advice, we need to find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety to keep the immune system functioning well.

01 Savasana knees supportedYoga is therapy for the body, mind and spirit. Combined with an understanding of the relationship between food and healing, we have at our disposal a powerful tool-kit to strengthen our body’s defences and speed up the healing process. Click HERE for a yoga routine to strengthen your immune system.

BREATHE – try this while you’re reading. Sit up. Breathe slowly in through your nose. Relax your jaw and your tongue. Slowly and steadily release the breath through your nose and ‘watch’ as your lungs become empty. Pause……. breathe in again, softly and smoothly, pause……. and slowly, steadily breathe out, ‘watching’ right through to the end. Let your breathing return to normal. You have just improved your cardiac cohesion.

Defend yourself against Colds and ‘Flu – in Chinese medicine, these are  called ‘exterior’ conditions and are often easiest to treat and cure while they are still showing exterior symptoms.  They become harder to treat when they become ‘interior’. (See below for the early signs.) Their effects are first felt in the parts of the body exposed to the exterior – the skin and the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and lungs.  So to defend against these viruses, we need to strengthen and support these areas in our bodies. Here are some suggestions:

Make your own Vitamin C –  if you are bean sproutsalready eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and veg, Vitamin C supplements are probably not necessary. Research shows that large doses of synthetic Vitamin C can be counter productive and can lead to the depletion of some minerals, plus other complications. So alongside the usual vitamin C-rich foods, consider the following:

  • Foods high in Vitamin C include sprouted seeds – a cheap and highly nutritious food you can prepare yourself at home. Keep a selection of alfalfa, aduki, chick peas, lentils, mung beans, sunflower seeds, the list goes on…, in your cupboard and sprout away. (Scroll down for a short ‘how to’ video.)  N.B. If you tend to feel the cold, always steam or sautée your sprouted seeds.
  • To promote a healthy gut, I recommend a daily dose of live natural yogurt – sheep, goat, or soya. For the ultimate daily dose, with many other immune-boosting ingredients plus anti-oxidants and protein, see my Immune Boosting Smoothie recipe.
  • Pau D’arco – to cleanse and strengthen the intestines, this amazing herb is helpful in pau d'arco teapreparing the body to fight infection. Take regularly as a tea – it tastes lovely! If you tend to have intestinal problems, IBS or Candida for instance, try the capsules, which also contain Goldenseal (see BELOW). Along with a dietary clean-up, no sugar, alcohol, wheat etc. these will help to clean, tone and strengthen your intestines.
  • Astragalus – one of the key uses for astragalus is to improve immune function. astragalus capsOne of the ways astragalus is thought to work is by increasing the production of immune cells. It may also have mild antiviral activity and help with the prevention of colds. Use Echinacea/Goldenseal (See BELOW) should you notice signs of colds or flu.
  • Light your oil burner  – keep the atmosphere around you as healthy as possible, in the home and at work. Vapourised, oil burnerthese essential oils can help to combat air-borne viruses and bacteria.
  • Oregano oil is exceptionally antiseptic and it also has potent anti-viral properties.
  • Tea-tree oil  has similar properties, and is very helpful for coughs, colds, sore throats and breathing difficulties.
  • Take a handkerchief with oregano or tea-tree oil into any situation where there is air conditioning, especially on a flight.
  • To ease breathing difficulties, both tea-tree and oregano are useful as vapour inhalations. Put 3-6 drops in 4 pints of very hot water and breathe the vapours, with your head under a towel if possible. (You can use them this way in the house, if you don’t have an oil burner.)
  • Add a few drops of either tea-tree or oregano oil to rinse water for laundry and for wiping down surfaces.

Sweat therapy has been used as a preventive and as a remedy in the early stages of colds and ‘flu for millennia – think sweat lodgeNative American sweat lodge, Scandinavian sauna, British hot toddy!   Sweating during the early stages helps to rid the body of the virus and defend against its deeper penetration into the body.

  • Make a herbal hot toddy – drink a cup or more of diaphoretic herbal tea, such as yarrow, chamomile, catnip, peppermint, or fresh root ginger. Add lemon juice and raw honey to the tea if preferred. Take a hot bath or shower, cover in blankets and sweat. (Do not sweat to the point of exhaustion, however.) After sweating, change to fresh bedding and clothing, and rest. If baths are not convenient, drink the tea every half hour until sweating is induced. Once is often enough for this process, but it can be repeated twice a day until the exterior symptoms lift. (N.B. Sweating in this way is only helpful for people who are normally in robust health. It is not suitable for people who are weak or unusually thin.)
  • Echinacea and Goldenseal – used periodically, this powerful combination fights inflammation and ech golds tincturebacterial and viral infection. It also stimulates certain white blood cells so is good for the immune system and the lymphatic system. You can take it in capsule form or  as a tincture (my favourite, but you may need to modify the taste). Keep some handy and if you notice any symptoms, start to take it. Don’t take for more than 8 weeks.

BREATHE, slowly in through your nose, lift your chest……. and breathe steadily out. Pause…. and do that once more. Relax your jaw, relax your tongue. Breathe in, lift your chest, pause……. and slowly breathe out, following your breath right to the end.



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A Smoothie – the best breakfast.

For a morning kick start and smooth ride through your day, put these into your blender:

200ml milk ( a mix of soya & coconut is my favourite, but use goat, cow, etc)

1 chopped banana

2 tsp Green Lightning  with power-packed superfoods and oceanic algae like spirulina, chlorella, and Pacific kelp, Green Lightning delivers energizing, purifying nutrients for vibrant, exhilarating health and vitality. Algae are nature’s superfood indeed.

2 tbsp live yoghurt (soya, goat, cow, etc)

Add a handful of fresh or frozen berries – raspberries, blueberries, etc. (Frozen gives a very cool smoothie, both temperature and colour!)

Now whizz with abandon, and drink BOTH glasses or you won’t make it to lunchtime. (If you have teenage daughters, make double the quantity. Trust me …. I’m a yoga teacher….)

If you refuse to be levered out of your toast-and-marmalade habit, at least get some Sun Chlorella. You’ll be so glad you did.


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Colds & Flu – Notes

Unless we want to live in a bubble, what can we do to protect ourselves?

1. The relationship between emotional stress and the depletion of the immune system.  The research shows how the immune system appears to benefit from the practice of yoga, and other activities which harmonise the mind/body/spirit. These forms of training encourage ‘coherence’, as opposed to ‘chaos’, in the rhythm of the heart beat. Immunoglobulin A (IgA)  is the body’s front line defence against infectious agents. It is present in all the mucous membranes of the body. When volunteers were asked to recall an occasion when they became stressed or angry, thus inducing a chaotic heart rhythm, the secretions of IgA dropped for an average of 6 hours. Negative emotions appeared to have a negative effect on their immunity, unless the volunteers had learned how to induce ‘coherence’. Research showed that those who had learned simple techniques for quietening their heart and brain through yogic breathing techniques could maintain coherence in the heart rate, and thus reduce the likelihood of a drop in their IgA levels. For more breathing techniques, click HERE.

2. How sweating works – when sweat glands are stimulated to increase production, they secrete a substance (sweat) which is synthesized from the fluid which fills the spaces between our body’s cells (the interstitial spaces). This fluid comes from blood plasma leaked into the tissues by capillaries. Any circulating toxins present in the blood system are carried into the interstitial spaces along with the plasma. In this way toxins make their way into sweat, which is a filtrate of the plasma. Heat stress and exertional activities speed up the circulation of blood and thus accelerate the release of fluid into the interstitial spaces. This in turn prompts sweat glands to produce more toxin-laden sweat.

Most people living in modern times do not sweat very much. Lack of adequate exercise, the prevalence of climate control technology at home and in the workplace, and the non-physical nature of most jobs contribute to minimal sweating. Unfortunately, decreased sweating means decreased toxin removal -so get moving!

3. Other supplements which can be helpful:

  • Bee Pollen – a wonder of Nature, but in the light of the current crisis in the bee population, and simply because of the massive amount of energy required for a bee to produce one single grain, I would counsel against using it, and if you do, to use it mindfully.
  • Citrus seed extract – there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding the purity of the extract, and therefore the possibility of allergic reactions. If you do use it, check that it is cold pressed and extracted without using chemicals, or better still collect up your grapefruit pips and make your own!
  • Garlic – if you can hold a peeled garlic clove between your cheek and teeth for 20 minutes, 3 times a day, you are welcome! Seriously though, fresh raw garlic can halt a viral infection in its tracks but needs to be taken 3 times a day. Taken at the first signs of cold or flu, good quality garlic  perles may also help.
  • Pep up your food – fresh ground black pepper is a diaphoretic. It opens up the pores for sweating and is helpful at the onset of colds and flu. Keep it on the table and use it every day.

4. Books:

  • For the body – Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.
  • For the mind and emotions – Healing Without Freud or Prosac by Dr David Servan Schreiber.

5. For a quick and easy guide to sprouting your seeds at home, this short video is fun!


These are all my own thoughts and words on the subject. They are not necessarily those of the suppliers of any of these products. I believe that positive thoughts and positive actions lead to positive outcomes. Let me know how you get on!

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