Build Your Immune System

Stressed About Coronavirus? Here’s How Yoga Can Help Build Immune System

Put your asana, breathwork, and a few Ayurvedic herbs and rituals to use to stay calm, get the sleep you need, and boost your immune system.
By now you’re getting office notices about staying home if you so much as sneeze, or suspicious side-eyes when you stifle a cough on the subway during rush hour. Your pantry may be stocked with extra pasta, toilet paper, and Purell. You’re already taking the most important precautions—washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick (don’t worry, with loads of events getting canceled you won’t miss much!), and keeping a safe distance from people who are coughing. It’s hard to avoid the noise and notifications as we contemplate the threat of a pandemic. According to the latest news reports, more than 89,000 people worldwide have been infected by a novel coronavirus, which causes a highly contagious respiratory disease named COVID-19. And we’re starting to see confirmed cases, community spread, and six fatalities (at press time) accrue stateside.

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  1. Gargle warm salt water and use a neti pot. These ancient Ayurvedic strategies—dissolving about ½ tsp. Himalayan or sea salt in 8 oz. of warm water—is “non-negotiable” if you are trying to prevent sickness, says Hall Carlson. Germs and bacteria hang out in your nose and throat 24 hours before digging into your bloodstream and affecting your immunity, she explains, and salt clears them out. You can use these saltwater rinses as preventative measures or when you start to feel sick.
  2. Sleep it off. “A balanced circadian clock (or your internal time-keeping for cycles of sleep and alertness) is directly linked to a strong immune system, according to Ayurveda, and now Nobel Prize-winning science,” explains John Douillard, best-selling author and founder of, which combines ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with modern science. He suggests going to bed two to three hours after sunset and getting up with the sun to help maintain healthy circadian rhythms.
  3. Drink tulsi tea. One of the most revered Ayurvedic herbs, tulsi is known as stress, fever, and headache reducer and lung clearer, says Hall Carlson. “I don’t go anywhere without it; it’s in my car, bag, and purse.” When viruses like coronavirus take hold, they create problematic respiratory conditions, which tulsi may be able to help soothe, adds Hall Carlson.
  4. Supplement. If tulsi isn’t your cup of tea, you can boost immunity and fight immune-compromising fatigue and anxiety with the Ayurvedic super-herb Ashwagandha, says Douillard. He also recommends turmeric as a natural anti-microbial.

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