Yoga teacher and holistic therapist Florentina Lam-Clark brings you a new monthly blog, delivering tips from the Ayurveda system on everything, from beauty and diet to health and wellbeing.

If you would like to learn how to start to incorporate these health-giving practices in your daily routine, we will be covering this and more in the Ayurveda & Yoga Series “Supporting Immune Health” workshop on Sunday 8 May 2022.

Building Robust Immune health: An Ayurvedic Approach

Current evidence shows that a healthy immune system is integral to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimers, Depression, to name a few. These diseases are on the rise. It’s not just the prevention of these life-altering conditions that’s important, but to raise our resilience to stress, maintain good mood, energy levels and a positive outlook on life that increases contentment.

These are qualities of well-being that Ayurveda aims to maintain. Ayurveda takes a natural preventative approach that cultivates, “ deep immunity”, helping to develop a strong immune system that prevents disease and increases longevity.

Taking conscious action and making informed choices means that a healthy immune system is not just down to good luck, genes or blind chance. Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom tradition that has been at the fore-front of natural medicine in India and Sri Lanka for over 5,000 years and is a fast growing area of research in the West.

David Herber, Professor of Medicine at UCLA Health says “The microbiome and the immune system are critically intertwined…70% of our immune system is located in the gut and so nutrition is a key modulator of immune function”. What is now known and commonly accepted is that all disease starts here. This knowledge is central to our understanding in how to prevent disease from occurring.

In Clinical Ayurvedic medicine, a reliable framework using healthy organic foods, culinary herbs, herbal medicine, yoga, meditation, massage and cleansing practises, have been found to build a strong immune system, and been shown to prevent disease, optimise health and reverse ageing. Taking an integrative approach, means we are attending to the basic building blocks of health.

  • Good nutrition
  • Sound, quality sleep
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Physical exercise
  • Cultivating harmonious relationships
  • Rest and relaxation

Eating the right foods at consistently regular times in the day is important, as the body is naturally primed to receive food at optimal times of the day. We can see this in the natural Circadian rhythms of the body. Research into crono-biology and the Noble Prize-winning discovery of “clock genes” that are activated at certain times of the day, regulate cortisol and melatonin levels. This is key to understanding how when we align our waking, sleeping and eating habits to this rhythm, we will experience optimum health and wellbeing.

In Ayurveda, Dinacharya is a regular routine that looks at the cycles of nature and bases daily activities around these cycles. This is foundational to Ayurvedic principles of health and wellbeing. There are optimal times of waking, eating and sleeping that go in line with the clock genes.

We can take a closer look to see how this works. In the chart we can see how cortisol levels start to peak between 6-7am, this is an optimum time to get up.
At this point it is good to drink a cup of warm water, or lemon water (add ginger) to begin to prime the body’s digestion, to get ready to receive food.

Optimal times to eat breakfast is between 7am-8.30am, lunch 12pm-1.30pm and dinner 5.30pm-7.30pm.

When we more or less follow these timings, we are going with our natural hormonal cycles, this means we will experience,

  • Optimum daily routine
  • Enhanced energy and vitality
  • Hormonal regulation
  • Immune Modulation
  • Optimal digestive function
  • Balanced moods and harmonic emotions
  • Positive outlook towards self and others

When we are out of sync with the natural rhythms, we will experience:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Low mood and energy levels
  • Susceptibility to colds and flu’s
  • Hormonal Imbalance (skin outbreaks, disrupted moon cycles)
  • Digestive Disorders (eg.,constipation, IBS)

Here are 3 simple things you can implement when you first wake up that will immediately attend to your immune system.

1. Stoke your Agni
In Ayurveda and yoga, agni is recognised as the digestive fire that needs to be stoked in order to process the foods we eat. Drinking ice cold drinks will dampen this fire and is not recommended.
When you wake up, drink a warm cup of water plain or add half a lemon and slices of ginger

2. Oil pulling* 
Swish the mouth with 1 desert spoon of sesame or coconut oil for around 10 minutes. Medical research into this has found that oil pulling reduces plaque, gets rid of bad bacteria, reduces S-Mutans, promotes healthy gums.

3. Abyhanga: Self-massage.
5+ minutes of self massage in the morning before or after bathing or showering has been found to increase white blood cells and healing in the body. You can use a good quality plain oil, or one that is medicated with therapeutic herbal oils.