Covid 19 – What is it? How can I keep myself healthy during this global scare?
CoVid 19 stands for Coronavirus Disease, originating in 2019.
Co = Corona, Vid = Virus, D = Disease.
While still in the early phases of transmission here in the US now, it is moving fast, and we are being asked to socially distance ourselves to reduce the spread of contamination, in particular the respiratory droplets on which the virus travels.
Covid 19 is a coronavirus. It is a part of a family of viruses that affect both people and animals (though my husband says he heard on the radio that dogs can not be infected. Real news or fake news? I don't know.). This family of viruses consists of over 100 different types of viruses, many of which have been around for a long time. This particular fast moving strain has never before been seen in humans. It is a viral respiratory disease which can only be detected with testing.
The virus spreads person-to-person by droplets originating in a cough or sneeze. I have heard that this virus is heavy, so that it only travels between three and six feet before falling to the ground (although last week I read that it can travel up to ten feet). Regardless, an effort needs to be made to prevent contaminating others by fully covering your cough or sneeze and not touching common surfaces until you've washed your hands well and by distancing yourself from others, too.
When you have symptoms, you are at the highest state of infection. Though people can have the virus, and be asymptomatic.
Symptoms are comprised of a combination of three particular elements:
-shortness of breath.
If you experience these three symptoms together, it is recommended you get tested if you think you have been exposed.
While this is a new virus, the practice of Yoga and Ayurveda have, for millennia, offered effective tools to prevent infection from respiratory viruses like it, including influenza (the flu).
They may help with CoViD 19, too, by preventing an accumulation of mucus and keeping your lungs, heart, and digestive tract resilient and healthy.
The following basic guidelines comprise a natural and holistic way to boost immunity and prevent infection:
Breath-based Mindfulness and Meditation (focusing on your breath to ground and move stuck energy, and spending time developing healing, positive thoughts) are fantastic tools to engage with at this time. If you'd like suggestions on a practice tailored specifically for you, ask me. That's what I do!
How do CoViD 19 symptoms differ from the Common Cold or Flu?
While each are virus based, they come from different sources. Typically, the common cold is more mild and of shorter duration than the flu, and probably less of a risk than CoVid 19.
A cold may occur after exposure to sudden cold conditions, and during seasonal change. One is especially susceptible to this in the early spring when the weather is often finicky and the body’s internal thermostat has yet to adjust to environmental changes. Other factors that decrease immunity and contribute to the common cold include poor diet which feeds the virus; sluggish digestion which has a hard time eliminating it; and, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise which leads to reduced circulation, especially in the heart and lungs.
From the Yoga perspective, the symptoms of a cold reflect the body's need to periodically discharge excess toxins. Normally, we handle this discharge without issue – through our lungs, lymph, and bowels. But when accumulation has not been released effectively, it can lead to coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever and sweating in an attempt to rid accumulated waste products.
The flu, or influenza, is a more severe form of the common cold. It is is highly contagious. Hand washing is your best defense, in addition to coughing/sneezing into your arm, knee, or other area that can contain and not spread the germs. Use these practices to prevent the spread of CoViD 19, too.
An acute cold can be averted by natural means by keeping the pranic energy of the body high and taking time to rest. Finding ways to balance daily strain, stress, and trauma with adequate rest and recovery is important. Doing this as soon as you notice a change in your overall well-being insures that the body's physiological functions maintain harmony and balance and can fight off exposure. Meditation - always a beneficial tool - is one of the best tools to help you harmoniously handle the stressors of life, and keep energy balanced!
Maintaining proper digestion can also help to ward off cold or flu. It may also help in the case of CoVid 19, too.
If you notice a loss of appetite, try fasting for 16-24 hours, or until your appetite returns. Experiencing a dry tongue or darkened urine? Add lemon and a pinch of Himalayan Salt to your water, and drink lots more.
Shifting pains in the back and limbs? Rest, stretch, or roll out tired muscles and soak in a warm Epsom salt bath. At this time of global pandemic, it's natural to be holding more tension in the body. Resting, stretching, hydrating are helpful tools for everyone!
Remember that a cold (flu, and COVID, too) is very contagious in the early stages, especially when sneezing is prominent. Voluntary isolation and rest during this period is an important step to keep it progressing and/or spreading.
As mucus and inflammation build, they provide a breading ground for infection. This may lead to an irritating flow from the nose, mucus in the throat, inflamed or red eyes, a decreased sense of smell and taste, and possibly a sore throat.
If the inflammation extends into that Eustachian tubes, your hearing may be temporarily impaired as well. Use of a neti pot (warm saline nasal flush) can help to keep the sinuses clear. It's important to remember not to flush your sinuses if they are quite stuffy, as this only pushes the virus trapping matter deeper into the body.
Usually, if you give yourself plenty of rest, stay warm and hydrated, and ease up on heavy meals for a while, these conditions can subside within just a few days. Is that the same for CoVid 19? No one really knows.
Other natural remedies include engaging with an energizing pranayama (breath) practice, enjoying a cup of hot tea with warming spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and... as said before, resting quietly.
Practicing silence offers you a break from the energy required to carry on a conversation. Why not consider this time of “sheltering in place” as a chance to take a mini retreat? To that end, you might consider participating in a media fast - turning off outside stimuli for a day or so in order to tap into the healing wisdom of the body and let that boost your physical and creative energies.
Could it be that's exactly what the earth has been asking for, too? That we, humans, reduce our impact by driving less, consuming less, polluting less, and considering the impacts of our behaviors on our natural resources and other people more.
The times, they are a changin'.
This CoVid 19 situation may be a global call to rest and refocus on our priorities. Upleveling your self-care practices is always beneficial. Finding ways to help clean the environment may also warrant your attention now.
Doing these things now make the difference between all of us growing weaker or growing stronger.
May we all, collectively, move through this crazy time with ease and grace.
I wish you all the best, now and always. If you need support, please reach out. I have the training and wisdom to help you elegantly navigate stress and thrive – in body, mind, heart, and soul.
I'd like to help so you don't have to suffer.
Sharon Harvey Alexander, C-IAYT, CRTT
Stay healthy this spring. Here's how:
Immunity is affected by seasonal change.
Beat the Corona Virus. Explore the following ideas today, and stay strong and healthy as we move into and through the spring season.
Seasonal changes and travel both have a weakening effect on our bodies, making us more susceptible to infections, including respiratory issues. Coronaviruses, in particular, affect the respiratory system and may bring on symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath. Many of those infected recover without serious complications. However, the virus can progress into pneumonia and bronchitis in sensitive populations including children, the elderly, and those with previously compromised immune systems. The best approach to avoid being infected is to build your immunity. Giving more attention to your self-care practices now, and changing them up to reflect the seasonal change, can take you a long way in terms of boosting your immune system, and supporting you in feeling your best now and in the months to come. Here are a few ideas to consider from the Ayurveda tradition:
Click here to watch a video and try out a fun cleansing breath practice.
Click here to listen to a soothing chanting song by Snatum Kaur called the Angels are Listening, and enjoy a brief "time out".
(Ask me about the perfect EO to add to your drinking water and massage oil now!)
Ayurveda is the traditional yogic system of medicine. The word means The Science of Life and is based on the idea of maintaining balance in each of the body's systems through proper a diet, herbal treatments, and breath practices tailored to your unique constitution. Paramount to Ayurveda are the Six Tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Pungent, and Astringent. Each taste has a unique relationship to the doshas, and contributes to overall health.
According to Ayurveda, the six tastes should be a part of every meal. This ensures that each of the major food groups, and those nutrients specific to them, are consumed on a daily basis. Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent tastes increase or exacerbate Vata. Sour, Salty, and Pungent tastes strengthen or exacerbate Pitta. The Sweet taste strengthens and exacerbates Kapha. To soothe or calm a dosha - which is what is attempted through the practice of Ayurveda - you want to avoid eating too much of those tastes that exacerbate a particular dosha, especially during the time of year or the season of life when a particular dosha tends to be elevated.
To cultivate balance, consider these guidelines:
Vata = the elements of Air and Space; the fall and early winter season; the ending season of life, from approx. age 60+. Calm the Vata Dosha with Sweet, Sour, and Salty tastes and warm, lightly cooked foods.
Pitta = the elements of Fire and Water; typically runs through the summer season into early fall; the time of life when one is establishing herself through career, family, and other adult responsibilities, typically the ages between 27 & 57 yrs. =/-. Placate the Pitta Dosha with Sweet, Bitter, Astringent and cooling foods.
Kapha = the elements of Earth and Water; the season runs from late winter through early summer, when the ground is wet and perennial plants are starting to grow again; childhood is the kapha season of life. Mitigate excess kapha dosha by avoiding sweets, and adding more pungent, bitter, and astringent raw foods to the daily diet.
Examples of foods in each taste category include:
Sweet - carbohydrates (grains like rice, all kinds of sweeteners and sugar, fruits, root vegies) dairy, fats, amino acids.
Salty - all kinds of salt, sea weed, pulses
Sour - fermented foods like yogurt, hard cheeses, citrus and other sour fruits, tomatoes
Pungent - spicy foods with volatile oils like hot peppers, ginger, garlic, cumin
Bitter - fresh leafy greens, dandelion, brassicas
Astringent - tannins found in tart foods like beans, lentils, pomegranate, green apples
To feel vibrant throughout the changing seasons and to maintain good health, consider incorporating each of these tastes into your daily diet. Doing so may leave you feeling more satiated, content, and balanced.
Questions - please schedule a consultation to determine your unique wellness personality and learn more about how to apply Ayurvedic Wisdom into your daily life.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, and joyous life, today and every day!
Sharon Harvey Alexander, C-IAYT
Chanting mantra is considered a powerful path to transformation. Sanskrit mantras are often chanted before a yoga class, or during meditation as a tool to focus the mind and soothe the body. Many of these mantras have their origin in the Vedas, a large body of religious texts based upon what was an oral tradition of sharing sacred practices in ancient India. The power of a Sanskrit mantra is found in the individual letters and the syllables created through the combination of a few of the letters. Each of the 50 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet vibrates at a unique frequency and stimulates a particular spot in our body. They are strung together in a particular way to create a seed sound (or bija). These seed sounds essentially wrap a garland of healing energy around and through the body when chanted.
The Gayatri mantra is one of the three most auspicious chants of this tradition. As we move toward the end of a decade, and into a new year, I'd like to share this important mantra with you. You may chant it while gazing into a candle flame, or visualizing the light of the sun softly illuminating your third eye.
Feel free to explore using it on your own, and if you find you'd like some guidance on chanting it well, I'd be happy to help you.
The Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra has its origins in the Rig Veda (1000 BC). Traditionally chanted 108 times in one sitting, it is a prayer to the eternal light – the energy of life which is within and all around us - to the source of light and life.
The Gayatri is considered to be one of the most powerful healing mantras there is. The vibration created by chanting this mantra has the potential to bring about physical and emotional healing. The mantra is chanted to purify and protect us from subtle energetic obstacles. It may also be chanted to help you awaken your spiritual self.
Here is a transliteration of the Sanskrit Chant:
DHIIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAAT
Here is one translation of the Gayatri Mantra:
Oh Divine Light - You are the Giver of Life,
The remover of pain and sorrow,
The bestower of happiness.
As the Creator of the Universe help us open to
And receive your supreme light.
May that healing energy guide us in the right direction.
Wishing you and yours a deLIGHTful new year!
~Sharon Harvey Alexander
Click here to schedule an appointment today.
Have you developed a Stress Busting Tool Kit?
How does stress impact the quality your life? Take a moment and consider what stresses you out. Can you sense how it affects your body and mind each day? Do you have effective tools to help you navigate stressful times? If you would like to pleasantly mitigate the negative affects that stress plays in your life, please read on.
For some people, stress seems to be primarily work related. They feel pressured to meet quick or persistent deadlines. Their daily schedule seems hectic and possibly unpredictable. Relationships with colleagues may be cloudy or tense. There are expectations placed on us by others that may not feel important, yet we don't want to disappoint. Many know not what to do about all this. Is that true for you?
For some, there are developing health concerns - yours, or a family members - that create worry and stress.
And of course, “change” can be unsettling for anyone. This can be especially true for those who are aging, and may have become comfortable in a particular routine. Change in the status of a relationship, a place of residence, a career path, your physical ability, or something else can leave you feeling anxious and unsettled. When this discomfort or worry continues for a prolonged period of time, it may have negative impacts on the quality of your health.
At the same time, many people are motivated by stress. The seriousness of the situation –- be that a deadline, a state of health, or something else — causes them to focus more attention on the issue than they might have otherwise. I think of my son’s tendency to procrastinate. A tendency that I, too, share at times. What I find when I am pushing to meet a deadline is that my mind becomes more focused, and my choices and decisions more clear. This is, in part, because I understand what my priority is at the time, and move forward in a more linear fashion when time is tight. The idea that stress can be empowering is labeled by the term "eustress."
Eustress is the positive response that one has to stress. It is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye. The prefix "eu" means "good". Combined "eu" and "stress" mean "good stress." The idea is that one can exhibit a positive cognitive response to stress. This is healthy, and can lead to feelings of fulfillment and even joy. This is but one manifestation of stress, and can be sensed in a physiological or psychological manner. It has to do with how one perceives a particular stressor. According to an article on wikipedia, eustress may result when one responds to stress by giving it a sense of meaning, or with hope or vigor and results in elevated levels of life satisfaction and overall well-being. While it may be uncomfortable, as stress of all kinds typically is, the experience is one that can lead to personal growth.
Knowing about eustress, would you agree with me that our perception of “stress” may be defined by the way we react to a particular situation, event, or even a person. How, then, can one become less reactive and more responsive to the demands placed on upon us?
The first step is to understand what you can control, and what you cannot change. This helps minimize the stress-inducing aspects of the stressful experiences in our lives. To paraphrase a quote from the Dalai Lama: "If you can change or improve something, do. If you can't, let it go."
For me, clarity around my influence comes in quiet moments. While sitting quietly in meditation, my mind experiences greater levels of ease, and is better able to process things. It's possible to cultivate "the witness perspective." The experience is similar for me when I am out in nature. Everything seems to slow down eventually; my body/mind drop into a more soothing and rhythmical pace. This, in and of itself, is a great antidote to stress.
Because I have found solace in quiet experiences, I aim to provide that for others through the work I do. Offering soothing experiences to my clients is a priority for me, in part because it allows me to contribute to making the world a better place ... one breath, one thought, one gentle and creative movement or restful moment at a time.
If you are someone who tends to get anxious easily, or feel unsettled in stressful times, it can be helpful to have a toolbox of techniques to fall back on as needed. I came across an article by Elizabeth Scott M.S. written for verywellmind.com that offers up fantastic stress busting ideas in line with my thinking, too so I thought I'd share it with you.
Click here to read the article.
Also, I encourage you to attend the weekly gentle and creative movement classes I offer in the Mountain Wisdom Healing Arts studio. They are designed to help you find center, turn off the noise of life around you temporarily, and let your inner voice guide you through the tumult of life more smoothly. As a result, over time you may find that you feel resourced and able to handle daily stressors with more ease and grace. Another great way to release stress and cultivate ease is through a Reiki Energy Balancing Treatment; it is a great antidote to the tension or anxious mind that can results from a fast paced and active life. Use this link to schedule a session today!
Finally, remember to breathe! If you're looking for ways to use your breath to turn off the flight/fight/freeze response to stress, and turn on the relaxation response in your body/mind, pick up a copy of my book: Learning to Breathe, Learning to Live: Simple Tools to Alleviate Stress and Invigorate Your Life. I teach and train from the book, so let me know if you'd like me to bring a workshop to your place of business, or social organization.
The bottom line? Make sure to schedule some time for yourself this holiday season. When you take time out to do that, you can banish stress, or transform it into joy. Not only will you benefit, but all of those around you benefit, too.
Wishing you a joyous and stress-free holiday season.
Sharon Harvey Alexander, C – I AYT
I came across a great article on the Very Well Mind site a few days ago, and wanted to share it with you. In it, author Elizabeth Scott MS, descripbes many effective stress releiving ideas.
This is the time of year when expressing gratitude might be more commonly done. Many prepare to gather with friends or family to celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday, and may take pause to consider what's going well in their life. What are you thankful for today?
In an article in Forbes Magazine, contributor Amy Morin outlined Seven Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Here's what she discussed:
* Encourages people to seek ongoing relations with those who say "thank you".
* Improves physical health.
* Improves psychological
* Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
* Improves sleep quality.
* Elevates self-esteem.
* Increases mental strength.
If all that can come from simply saying thank you more often, why not begin today?
I am grateful for the chance to help my clients elevate overall well-being naturally. And I am grateful to share my work with you!
May you have a meaningful and lovely, peaceful Thanksgiving celebration, where ever you are in the world!
Namaste, Sharon Harvey Alexander, C-IAYT
source: Forbes.com; Nov. 23, Amy Morin.
Roasted Baby Summer Squash
8 baby summer squash (zucchini, yellow summer squash, patty pan squash, or any combination of the three)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus additional for brushing
Salt and Pepper
1 cup packed mixed herb leaves (basil, parsley, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint)
4 cloves garlic
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, or turn on outdoor grill.
Slice squash in half (lengthwise for the long summer squash, horizontally for the patty pan) and take a small slice off the backs so they will sit flat in a pan, cut side up. Score the cut side of the flesh in a diamond pattern, slicing almost to the skin. Lightly brush the cut sides with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the 2 Tb oil with the herbs and garlic in a food processor. Process to make a paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.. Spread the past over the cut sides of the squash.
Roast for about 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. Remove from heat when the squash are tender and lightly browned. Serve hot.
Butternut-Apple Crisp - apples and winter squash are sweet, soothing to pitta and vata. The squash is grounding for vata.
3 cups peeled and sliced butternut squash
2 cups peeled and sliced tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1 cup packed brown sugar (I tend to cut this in half)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
6 TB butter, softened
1/3 chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a shallow baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine squash, apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, spices and lemon juice. Toss to gently mix. Transfer to baking pan and place in preheated oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Cominbe the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, flour, slat, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Stir together until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in the nuts. Spread evenly on top of the swash and apples.
Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve warm or cold. Ice cream makes it even better!
The source of these recipes is The Classic Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman
Five tips to help you move through the end of the summer season with ease.
1.) Drink more water.
2.) Eat moist and cooling foods.
3.) Take an afternoon stretch/rest break.
4.) Walk/exercise in the morning when the air if freshest.
5.) Tell your loved one (and others close to you) that you care about them.
As the summer season draws to a close, make sure you take time to get outdoors. Appreciate the long days, the warm weather, and the bounty all around you before its gone. Cultivate a sense of gratitude for this wonderfully abundant season, and let that soothe a tired heart, and softens a weary face. It does much to boost relationships with others, too and may even improve the quality of your sleep.
Here in Colorado, the air grows hotter as the sun rises higher in the sky over the course of the day. That, combined with living at a higher elevation, naturally draws moisture from our bodies each time we breathe. So it’s important to hydrate. Be conscious about how much water you consume each day. Aim to drink close to half your body weight in ounces each day. This alone will keep your muscles fluid and your body systems functioning optimally.
Eating moist and cooling foods help with that, as well. They also soothe and even cool a body that may be irritated at this time of the season by the hot, dry air or a busy schedule. Feeling “off” or a bit irritable? This is a natural reaction at the height of the Pitta (or summer) Season. Pitta is one of the three primary ayurveda doshas or psycho-physiological elements that govern all body/mind activities. It is best kept calm through the food choices we make.
Great choices to consume more of now include: melons, mangos, grapes, and pears, cucumbers, coconut, mint, broccoli, zucchini, as well as coriander and fennel, plain milk, butter, & ghee.
While it might seem like a good idea, grabbing an iced and carbonated drink to cool you down may actually impede digestion. All year long, it is best to consume foods and beverages as close to room temperature as possible to avoid overtaxing the digestive system.
You can cool your system by consuming more of the foods listed above. You can also cool it by resting when the sun is hot and high in the sky. Rather than going on a run or long bicycle ride at mid-day, can you move your exercise activities to earlier in the morning right now? That way you may have time to take a break when the day begins heating up. Rest, rather than activity, soothes an imbalanced Pitta Dosha. How can you work some quiet time into your afternoon?
If you think of pitta as the energy and power of the fire element, it’s easy to understand how the Pitta Dosha relates to the energy of transformation. Pitta personalities may exhibit some fiery qualities – because they typically dot their "I's" and cross their "T's" they make great planners, they’re good at pushing through obstacles, and they like to see results. However, those same qualities can tax the heart, increase digestive acids or blood pressure, and weaken the liver and gallbladder if they get out of whack. Taking time to appreciate the world around you (a walk in nature is the perfect way to do this) and to let others know you appreciate them will go a long way to pacifying an imbalanced pitta dosha.
I invite you, right now, to pause. Take a moment and bring to mind those people you love. Can you send them a message now? Telepathically, electronically, or by even picking up the phone and saying hello.
This is a great way to soothe the heart, and elevate the quality of your relationships. After all, life is short and the summer season is almost over. If you’ve been too busy to reach out and connect, please make time for that now. Your heart will thank you, and so do I.
If you’d like support as you navigate seasonal changes, or you’d like to know more about your unique wellness personality as expressed through your ayurveda dosha, please contact me. I am here to help you navigate the changes in life from a place of strength, calm, and coolness.
Namaste, Sharon Harvey Alexander C-IAYT
PS: To up the hydrating qualities of plain water and make it less "boring", consider adding a squeeze of lime juice and a tiny pinch of pink Himalayan Salt. Enjoy!
Seven Savvy Tips for a Soothing Summer Season.
In Ayurveda, summertime is the pitta season. This means that the heat in the environment can bring out the heat in our bodies and aggravate our mind and emotions. To manage the pitta dosha so that you feel calm and balanced even as the weather heats up around you during the hot summer months, follow these suggestions:
* Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest time of day, between 10 AM and 5 PM.
* Stay hydrated, and add more moist and cooling foods to your diet. This means drinking up to half your body weight in ounces of fresh water, and eating fresh foods like salads, fruits and berries, and grains.
*Avoid rushing, pushing, or struggling to meet deadlines now. Instead, slow down and take time to “smell the roses.”
* Enjoy leisurely walks in nature, linger out in the cool evening breezes or under the moonlight, spend time in or near fresh, cool gently running water.
* Craft a cooling and calming aromatherapy spritzer blend from lavender, rose, mint, jasmine or ylang ylang essential oils and spray on your face, your skin, around your home or office.
* Practice soothing and cooling breathing practices including alternate nostril breathing; left nostril breathing; or slowly drawing air across the tongue as you inhale.
* Consider napping in the early afternoon for 20 minutes. This is refreshing to body and brain, and may support a later bedtime hour during the longer summer days.
Even bringing one of these soothing practices into your day will help tame the fires of summer that are often the culprit behind irritated skin, digestion, moods, and more. I invite you to implement these cooling and calming self-care practices in order to live your best life this summer and thrive.
Questions? Please reach out and let me know how I can support you.
Sharon Harvey Alexander, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master, and Holistic Stress Managment Educator
Murmuration.What is it?
As always, I'm here to support you in reclaiming, maintaining, or even elevating your well-being so that you can bring your best self into everything you do, and live the life you were meant to live with a smile on your face, and joy in your heart.