Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Top 3 Winter Health Rituals

As we wrap up December and prepare for the New Year, now is the perfect time to check-in with ourselves and take an inventory of our health habits. 

The change of seasons and colder temperatures of winter present the highest risk of compromising your health and potentially getting sick. Every year, a new strain of the Flu and other viruses start to circulate around. Especially if you frequent a yoga studio/gym/school/airports, your chances of coming down with a sickness are even greater. 

I stopped getting the Flu Shot 4 years ago and *knock on wood* have still not been affected by the flu or any other major illness since. Preventative health is key -- especially in the winter months. First, start by visualizing yourself with a strong, protective layer of vibrant health and wellness around you. Nothing can penetrate it. Hold this image steady in your mind and come back to it when you're feeling vulnerable. Then, create a magic formula that works for you of rituals that you practice frequently (every day if possible) to detoxify and beautify your system from the inside out.  

Here are my favorite Winter Health Rituals for boosting your immune system and fighting the flu naturally:

1) Oil Pulling: Every morning, spend 10-15 minutes gargling coconut oil. Wait, what?! I know this might sound crazy but if you do only one thing to better your overall health this Winter, oil pulling is it! Coconut Oil melts at 76 degrees fahrenheit, so you only need to barely pre-heat your oven (or if you live in a warmer climate, just set your coco oil on the counter the night before) to bring it into its liquid form. Note: never use the microwave! Start with one large tablespoon, and once it becomes fully liquid, start swirling it around your mouth, the same way you would mouth wash. It's easiest to do this in the shower while shaving your legs or washing your hair. After 10 minutes (go for 15 if you can!), spit out in the trash can. Be mindful not to spit down your drains as coco oil will build up over time and clog your pipes. 

The physical benefits of this practice are too many to list, but include: cures tooth decay and bad breath, heals gums, prevents heart disease, whitens teeth, boosts immune system, improves acne, and strengths your jaw. Other benefits I personally noticed were: gets energy moving through your throat chakra and thyroid first thing in the morning, provides opportunity to practice mindfulness and a new form of meditation, relaxes and focuses the mind.

2) Acupuncture + Cupping: I am a huge fan of Chinese medicine. I've used it over the years to boost my immune system for relieving muscle pain and post-workout recovery. When I was pregnant, I worked with an Acupuncturist once a month to prevent morning sickness, dizziness, discomfort, etc. And it truly worked! After our sessions, I felt extremely grounded, balanced, and connected to my body and all the changes happening. Now that I'm 4 months post-partum and winter has arrived, I once again started working with Eastern medicine to realign my energy, increase blood flow, and give me more stamina to chase baby around with. 

At our last session, my Acupuncturist mentioned that I should try cupping as well to target my constant neck and shoulder pain from breastfeeding. I agreed, and have already felt the results! Cupping works in the opposite way of massage. Instead of pressing down into the muscles, it pulls up, drawing toxins to the surface (which is what causes the redness and bruising). Don't worry! The discoloration lasts only about a week, and the more you do it, the less you bruise. I highly recommend incorporating acupuncture and cupping into your Winter Health rituals to purify and re-align your system, on all levels. 
3) Bone Broth: Your intestines and gut are the foundation of your health. Many of the foods that we eat in our modern Western culture are highly acidic and over time, wear down at the intestinal lining and poke tiny holes in your gut. Even if you are eating 100% organic now, your digestion may be badly damaged from your youth and from prior poor health habits. The good nutrients that you are currently consuming end up leaking out of your gut and never get fully absorbed into your system. I first learned about "Leaky Gut Syndrome" a few years ago, and although I am not diagnosed with this, it did send me on a journey of trying to understand the gut health/overall health connection. I discovered that bone broth contains collagen and amino acids that actually repairs damaged cell walls. Also, its gelatin restores the lining of your gut, repairs your GI tract, and even makes your skin glow -- it's a win/win!

You can make bone broth on your own at home (which I tried and epically failed at!), or you can purchase from a reputable local source in your community. Since the benefit of this special broth comes from boiling the bones to extract powerful nutrients like collagen and glutamine, it is essential that everything used in the recipe is 100% organic and untouched by pesticides. I purchase my bone broth from a local farm-sourced vendor here in San Diego and enjoy one warm cup in the afternoon and one right after dinner. I find that in the winter drinking warm bone broth is a soothing ritual that takes little to no effort but has a tremendously positive impact on your health. You can read more about the benefits of Bone Broth here.  

What are your favorite techniques for staying healthy in the winter? Please write a comment and share!



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