One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from practicing Kundalini Yoga is that my well-being, my health, my happiness is controlled by me. No one else. No external force, no outside influence. I am in control of my body, my mind and my soul. Catching colds and virus is not necessarily an inevitability, accepted stoically because "it's that time of year."
If I choose to run around chasing my dreams, seeking some sort of perfection, cleaning, working, cooking, completely unaware of others, and most definitely oblivious to the messages inside my body, then something will soon go awry.
It's rather like forgetting to put your car in for a regular service and then wondering why it refuses to start one cold, icy morning.
We have an incredible body, sophisticated and subtle at the same time, a complex machine that requires maintenance and care, just like any piece of machinery.
When you practice Kundalini yoga you become more aware and more in tune with your body, and suddenly you realise that it has the most wonderful capacity to heal itself. The process of self-healing is the privilege of every being. It is not a miracle, it's a fact.
Calm the mind, keep it in peace so that the body can do the job it is designed to do, to regulate and heal itself.
So my first piece of advice is to slow down!!
I had to learn this particular lesson the hard way. I used to run around, juggling children, two jobs, home, husband and sorting everybody's problems, with no stopping from the moment I woke up, to the time I put my head back again on the pillow.
My poor old kidneys took the brunt of this craziness. They sent out messages constantly but I was too fired up in pursuit of my goals and more than happy to receive doctor's antibiotics. Block out the pain. Let's pretend all is well.
This went on for many years, until the doctor refused to prescribe my beloved antibiotics. I suddenly found myself stranded and lost without my chemical prop.
Homeopathy and yoga saved both me and my kidneys, as I underwent a slow gradual process of bringing my exhausted body back into balance. Learning to stop for 11 minutes every four hours, to surrender and soften, gave my body an opportunity to catch its breath. I could almost hear it sigh a long "phew" of relief as muscles dissolved and mind chatter quietened.
I like to relax to Jap Man Sat Nam by Snatam Kaur. I love this shabd, reminding you to relax into the true nature of your identity, not the roles you may play, the responsibilities or checklists. An invitation to release your roles; wife, husband, son, daughter, professional, friend, even woman or man, and merge into the single identity of Sat Nam. And its duration is 11 minutes. Perfect.
Slowing down like this means you can listen. You give yourself full attention. You are able to hear your breath, notice the pulsing, stirring, growling taking place in your body and feel the delicious sensation of aliveness under your skin. It's magical, it's natural and also extremely empowering because you suddenly realise your body knows exactly what it needs - more fruit, more vegetables, more sleep, more quiet, more fresh air, sunshine - you simply have to stop, look and listen.
Sometimes our bodies do need a helping hand to keep the healing systems working, but instead of heading for the pharmacy, or the doctors surgery, I use the kriyas and meditations of Kundalini Yoga. It's rather like delving into a very special, natural medicine cabinet.
To give your immune system a boost, particularly during change of seasons, try Dog Breath.
Sit in easy pose with your chin in and your chest out. Stick your tongue all the way out and keep it out as you rapidly breathe in and out through your mouth.
Continue this diaphragmatic breath for 3 - 5 minutes.
To finish, inhale and hold your breath for 15 seconds and press the tongue against the upper palate. Exhale. Repeat this sequence two more times.
Kriya for Disease Resistance keeps your digestion and elimination functioning well which is essential to avoid persistent colds and illnesses. It's a relatively gentle kriya culminating with Elephant posture which not only aids elimination but will probably make you laugh. And as we all know laughter is one of the greatest medicines.
Finally, I discovered the huge benefits of investing in my self-care through annual retreats. This is not a luxury, it is not selfish or self-indulgent, it is an essential part of my health routine, keeping me prosperous, happy and full of energy.
May you laugh and love freely, with all of your heart, and stay healthy and happy.