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