Yogi Maharaj Dr. Malik our Editor (since 2003) is a recognised International expert and authority on the subject of yoga. He has been practising, researching and studying this discipline for over 45 years.
He is an accredited Yoga teacher specialising in kundalini, hatha and laya yoga. Our Editor is an advanced practitioner and has experience of many styles of yoga. He has also been teaching for over 20 years and is fluent in several languages, including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujrathi, Persian and Urdu.
I am really worried about Coronavirus and wanted to know if yoga can help me prevent this virus spreading or how I can use yoga to help me deal with the virus. I’m really stressed and also shocked about what’s been happening around the world. - K. George
Yoga can definitely help you strengthen your immune system and response. The practice of yoga can also help you deal with emotional and mental issues (Comprehensive advice on nutrition is provided on our social media platforms, written by world leading authorities on vegan and micro-biotic eating by Marlene Watson-Tara and Bill Tara).
Aside from that I would like to emphasise that practice of yoga generally is known to keep the immune system strong. All Pranayama (breathing exercises) help strengthen the immune system, oxygenate the body and remove toxins. Practical physical yoga postures help massage internal tissues and muscles and help eliminate toxins from the lymphatic system. The benefits of practising yoga have been documented now in many scientific, medical, social and related studies. Yoga is a spiritual tradition and has a tried and tested methodology, for a range of ailments. It can keep not only body but importantly the mind at ease and settled. We also know that in times of pandemics ‘fear’ is heightened in all aspects of our lives. Fear or the ‘expectation’ of ‘death’ or ‘illness’ can have a profoundly negative impact on our health. According to yogic thinking briefly, the chakras (energy centres) govern our emotional and psycho-spiritual states. There are 7 chakras located in the body, each responsible not only for biology but indeed the overall functioning of our health. If any such chakra is not working to its optimum best, then the consequence will be felt on our spiritual, mental and physical planes. Fear is strongly associated with the 2nd chakra known as the Sacral chakra (Svadhistana) which governs the area of our sexual organs, lower abdomen (stomach) and its corresponding element is water and the corresponding colour is orange. Fear is one of the emotions that this chakra governs so it is worthwhile exploring whether your second chakra is stable and strong to withstand the chronic consequences of ‘fear’. Because fear in itself can bring on the onset of mental and physical problems. If you are in state of panic or fear about COVID-19 – to a level where it is compromising your mental state then this can trigger underlying biological and emotional problems, which have nothing to do with COVID-19. As a result, you may weaken the immune system and make yourself ill. What kind of exercises can you do to strengthen this chakra centre? There are various resources available on the internet, books and DVDs. In the martial arts the centre where the second (and indeed the third chakra) is located, is known as Hara.
Exercises or practices associated with the second chakra include:
- Colour therapy – visualising the colour orange and/or integrating the colour orange through ornaments, dress and more importantly foods.
- Food therapy and juices – (examples such as orange, carrots, strawberries, almonds, coconut, mangoes, walnuts) .
- Integrating positive affirmations and visualisations (such as yantras).
- Essential oils (examples – orange, bergamot, sandalwood and jasmine).
- Gems, crystals and stones, (example – carnelian, orange amber and jasper, tiger eye)
- Herbs and spices (see also foods above).
- Sound therapy – Using the associated mantra of this chakra (each chakra having a unique one). The mantra for this chakra is VAM. Chanting, meditating and working with this mantra balances the energy of this chakra.
- Massage and holistic health methods generally including acupuncture, acupressure, working with relevant marma points and hijama (blood cupping).
- Creative arts – (examples, art and crafts).
- Yoga practical poses including mudras (there are many that can be practised and some recommended one’s are cobra pose, easy pose, bridge, bow and fish).
- Yoga pranayama exercises (including kapal bhati – breath of fire, nadhi sodhana, sitali and sitkari).
In January 2020, His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised his followers in Buddhist monasteries in China, to chant the Tara Mantra 108 times, daily to control the disease from spreading. Those who are already experiencing the disease were also advised to chant the mantra to help deal with the emotional problems associated with it.
The Dalai Lama has also released a recording on the internet where he is chanting the mantra.
This mantra is known as the GREEN TARA MANTRA . It is used to invoke Tara and ask her to help one heal from fears and for liberation.
The Green Tara Mantra is a Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist mantra which is used to bring about ‘change’ on a physical and also spiritual level and offers protection. Tara is known as Dolma in Tibetan Buddhism translated simply as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion. She is a feminine Bodhisattva. She manifests in different forms and is invoked not just for compassion but in her other states for abundance and prosperity and for protection. Tara is invoked for many other things such as when one is experiencing severe emotional blocks, bad karma, bad luck and related things such as disease.
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama also urged his followers to recite the mantra to call on immediate help for 8 states/dangers that can afflict us. He wrote about the meaning of the Tara Mantra and these dangers that can cause havoc on our emotional and mental states. He attributed metaphors to each of these states. He said that we can chant the mantra to help deal with immediate problems.
Aside from the Green Tara Mantra, other Mantras that can be used in such situations include The Triple Mantra of Guru Nanak, which is also an ancient technology for invoking compassion, a peaceful state of being and soothing the mind. Many religious and spiritual schools have issued recommended sacred sound and practices to use to help deal with the consequences of COVID-19.
My husband suffers various airborne allergies during the summer months and I buy him antihistamine tablets from the chemist. I’m quite worried this year because year on year the summer never seems to end and so I’m not sure whether he should always be taking medicines? - F. Slater, Surrey
Your husband is not alone as there are millions of people who suffer allergies and over the last decade more research and understanding of this subject matter is becoming known. I also recommend that you do see your GP/Medical advisor first so that they can eliminate any chronic aspect to this condition. If your husband has been given the all clear and is told that what he is suffering is mild allergy or hay-fever or similar conditions then you can of course approach your Pharmacist for advice and medication. Many people experience great relief taking anti allergy tablets to relieve the harshest of symptoms.
There’s quite a lot you can explore generally if the symptoms are not chronic such as alternative treatments.
A few simple methods that you can easily and safely integrate include:-
- misting the environment at home with aromatic essential oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree and Camomile. (These oils are generally considered to be ‘safe’);
- using natural and related products that offer relief and which are not loaded with toxic chemicals. Check out nasal sprays and related products from XCLEAR (https://xlear.com/ xlear/xlear-sinus-care/nasal-spray. html) and STERIMAR (https:// www.sterimarnasal.co.uk). Both are reputable brands with tried and tested products that are also gentle on the nasal cavity.
- Steaming Epsom salt (or Himalayn pink salt) in a bowl or in a bath will release ions into the atmosphere – which also aid in cleansing the nasal passages, chest, nose and airways.
- Ancient yoga techniques such as the cleansing techniques (Netis) offer a wealth of tried and test methodologies for dealing with nasal, sinus, chest and related issues.
One of my favourite yoga exercises for cleansing, is the Jala Neti (also known as Jal Neti). Neti is an ancient yogic system of cleansing. Jala Neti is a simple but effective process of cleansing the nasal passages with salt water. The benefits of performing are countless and should be part of one’s overall beauty regime. You don’t need to be suffering from any condition to practise Jala Neti. However, regular practice is recommended for asthmatics, allergy sufferers, anyone with nasal irritation, cough, cold, flu, headaches and general cleansing. It also helps you breathe better opening the nasal passages and removes unwanted debris and accumulated toxins and bacteria. It’s also good for the eyes, throat and the head.
- For this you will need a small jug of water at room temperature. You can, if you like, buy a specially designed neti pot for this purpose.
- The shape of the pot and of course its nozzle will make a difference to how the water pours out. So if you want to look after your health try investing in a reasonably good quality one.
- A lightweight pot is easier to manage than a large heavy one.
- Always clean the pot before and after use.
- Jala Neti can be performed at any time of the day. It really depends on your preference. I start most days with nasal cleansing with Jala Neti and sometimes at night before retiring for sleep.
- You may want to practise when it suits you. In your case especially with summer allergies your husband (and indeed you as well) can do the Jala Neti several times daily. However, be careful not to over saturate the nostrils with salt/saline solution. You only need a little.
- Don’t use salt/saline solution if that irritates you. A saline solution will be far superior to clearing out toxins.
- Stand up and lean slightly forward over a bowl/sink/or floor (depending on where you intend to practice this exercise).
- Tilting the head to the side insert the neti pot nozzle into the nostril and empty the pot of water slowly so that comes out of the other nostril.
- Then tilt side of head to other side and repeat above steps.
- This whole exercise should take a few minutes.
- In warm weather any wetness in nostril should naturally dry otherwise you can blow the nose gently, to remove excess water and debris.
- Some practitioners like to follow Jala Neti with a nasal pranayama exercise. A simple one that you can do is to close the mouth and breathe in and out of nose for a few rounds.
There is also absolutely no reason why you and your husband shouldn’t at the same time explore alternative treatments and seek out treatment or advice from a specialist in aromatherapy. Use of essential oils are absolutely recommended (under safe guidance) for any nasal condition.
There are also natural health products on the market that can help sufferers of allergies to help manage their symptoms.
I also recommend that your husband practises pranayama (breathing) exercises. Yoga breath exercises are a perfect antidote to the strains and stresses of modern life.