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4 Ways Boosting Your Immunity Extends Your Life

4 Ways Boosting Your Immunity Extends Your Life

Ever wonder why you always get the sniffles at least once every winter, but your one friend doesn’t even sneeze? Is it really only your genes that decide how great your immunity is? Well, think again! Scientists have found there are natural things you can do to boost your immunity.

Strengthening your immune system doesn’t just mean you can ward off the flu better, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that boosting your immunity lengthens your life too! They found that your immune system protects your body from all kinds of stressors, which can cause your cells to age. Researchers noted that older people with strong immune systems live longer, and not just because they can fight off infections better. It turns out that your immune system helps neutralize harmful free radicals in your body, which have been shown to cause aging and chronic diseases.

Here are four ways you can boost your immunity naturally:

1. Drink Aloe Vera Juice

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might not be getting your daily vitamin B12 from your diet. Major sources of B12 include meat, fish, and cheese. Vegetables and nuts aren’t on the list. In fact, spinach has no B12 at all!

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Why is this important? Researchers found that vitamin B12 is a critical player in maintaining a healthy immune system. Patients given B12 experienced a boost in the number of their immune cells. Their NK cell activity was significantly increased too. Why is that so good? Among other vital functions, NK cells are your immune system’s major cancer-killing cells.

Aloe vera is one of the few produces that has a significant amount of B12. It also has vitamins A, E, and C, which all support your immune system. These vitamins also act as antioxidants that help prevent free radicals from causing premature aging and damaging your body.

Does it work? According to SFGate, aloe vera supports your immune system directly by helping cleanse your body of toxins and bad microbes. They say it also regulates your immune system by helping prevent and alleviate hyperactive allergic reactions and autoimmune conditions, like arthritis.

How can you get your aloe vera? You can drink aloe vera juice or cut pieces of the raw plant’s inner stalk and mix it with your salad. Drinking aloe vera juice also helps keep your skin looking young, and when it passes your lips, can alleviate any soreness if your lips are sunburned or inflamed. Be careful not to eat or drink too much aloe vera because it has a strong laxative effect.

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2. Exercise Regularly

Exercising everyday isn’t just good for your waistline and heart, it boosts your immunity too! Medline Plus says that moving your body may help alleviate and prevent colds by flushing out pathogens from your airways. Exercising boosts your circulation, which may also boost your immune cells’ activity since they’re moving around faster and can catch possible pathogens faster too.

But don’t exercise too much! Researchers found that moderate exercise (like walking a mile everyday or one minute of high intensity interval training) protects and supports your immune system. But they warn that repeated strenuous exercise weakens your immune system. So don’t overdo it or you’ll end up hurting your immunity, instead of strengthening it.

3. Stop Smoking or Taking Nicotine

You know smoking can cause cancer. In fact, it causes between 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths – that means only 10 percent of people who die of lung cancer aren’t smokers.

But cancer isn’t the only way smoking can shorten your life. Researchers found that nicotine suppresses your immune system by interfering with the communication between your immune cells. It also lowers your T-cell count, which weakens your overall immunity. It also weakens your macrophage response, which is your first line of defense against tuberculosis. In fact, there are increased tuberculosis infections among people routinely exposed to nicotine. As if these weren’t enough, nicotine also slows your body’s ability to heal wounds.

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Stop smoking or using nicotine products and you’ll stop weakening your immunity and live longer. Nicotine is very addictive, and it’s understandable that you can’t suddenly go cold turkey. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that only 5 percent of smokers trying to quit succeed when they don’t get help. But you can boost your success by getting drug addiction help with qualified professionals.

Some smokers need the tactile sensations of inhaling and holding a cigarette. If this is your challenge, you can try electronic cigarettes. E-cigs are shaped like cigarettes and deliver vapor to your lungs when you puff on them. But unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigs only deliver pure nicotine without the thousands of carcinogens. The NIH found that e-cigs are a safe method smokers can use to quit smoking. The FDA is also making sure they’re safe to use by increasing e-cig regulations and even creating an online e-cig reporting tool to stop malfunctioning or low quality products in their tracks. But remember that nicotine still suppresses your immune system – even if e-cigs are a great step down from regular cigarettes, they’re still shortening your life. You should only use them as a temporary crutch to help you quit permanently.

4. Do Intermittent Fasting

Have you ever skipped meals? There’s a whole methodology behind it called intermittent fasting. You don’t have to skip a specific meal, you can also intermittently fast by eating during specific intervals, like choosing to eat only every eight hours. In fact, Marilyn Monroe practiced intermittent fasting too by routinely skipping lunch.

But is it good for you? Yes, researchers found intermittently starving yourself lowers your blood pressure and overall inflammation, which are both risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also lowers the levels of harmful free radicals in your system, which means it helps extend your life!

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It also boosts your immunity by fine-tuning your immune cells. Researchers found that when your body is in survival mode when you’re fasting, it starts recycling damaged and dead immune cells to use as energy and building blocks. Then the next time you eat, your body quickly makes new, super efficient immune cells. The result is a rebooted, supercharged immune system. If you practice intermittent fasting routinely, you sharpen your immune system because most of your immune cells will always be at their best to protect you from toxins and harmful microbes.

Your immune system isn’t just as strong as your genes dictate. You can ramp up your immunity by making healthy, cost-free lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and exercising everyday. Boosting your immunity not only means you’ll get sick less, but it can add years to your life too!

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

What is Yoga?

Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

Let’s see how to do that:

Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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  1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
  2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
  3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
  4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
  5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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  1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
  2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
  3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
  4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

The stillness and the watching within.

Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

More About Yoga

Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
[2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
[3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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