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22 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 2 0 SAVVY SELF-CARE best practices Creating Certainty in Uncertain Times By Heath and Nicole Reed To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we know to wear a mask in public, keep a 6-foot distance, and continuously sanitize our hands and space. Additionally, we have been asking ourselves, "What else can I do to feel safe and protected?" and "What else am I capable of changing or controlling when things feel out of control?" We find that acknowledging the stress and tension while leaning on a daily self-care practice helps us mitigate the chronic, widespread pandemic of increased uncertainty and anxiety. Here are three healing approaches you can practice to strengthen your immune system and generate a sense of safety. Experience and feel the difference as you move your body, circulate your breath, and change your focus. THE MIRACLE MOLECULE OF NITRIC OXIDE Did you know that every time you inhale through your nose your body creates an amazing chemical reaction that boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, improves blood flow to all the organs, allows for smooth muscle relaxation, and more? This miracle molecule is called nitric oxide. Nobel Prize Laureate Louis J. Ignarro, PhD, says, "Enzymes have been found in the nose and in the paranasal sinuses that produce nitric oxide." 1 You can increase the production of nitric oxide by eating foods containing high levels of it, like arugula, celery, and lettuce. Exercising and simply breathing through your nose also increase nitric oxide production. Ignarro continues, "Breathing through your nose is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the overall health of your body and for your longevity." 2 Because nearly 80 percent of the population are breathing inefficiently through their mouths, nasal breathing can restore wellness for the vast majority of people. Say Yes to Nitric Oxide with the Humming Breath The humming breath has been shown to increase nitric oxide production up to 15 times more than normal breathing, and humming has been shown to reduce stress and induce calmness. 3 Just inhale through your nose. Then, as you exhale, keep your mouth closed and resonate a vibratory "hummmmmmm" sound. Hum the entire length of your exhalation. Practice for at least 2 minutes or until you feel a shift in your mind and body. THE ENERGETIC ARCHITECTURE OF OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM According to traditional Chinese medicine, wei qi (pronounced "way chee") is a force field of energy extending from our skin that protects us from external pathogens. Our wei qi may be strengthened with a synergy of conscious movement and breath, partnered with intentional focus. Feel the power of reinforcing your immune system and restoring balance with the following ancient qigong practice. Protection Cross Qigong Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Begin with your wrists crossed in front of your belly, and inhale as you slowly lift your wrists up in front of your body and in front of and above your face. On your exhale, allow your arms to part and float down by your sides. Repeat several times. Straighten your legs on your in-breath and slightly bend your knees on your out-breath. On each repetition, imagine you are drawing a golden light surrounding you and protecting you like a luminescent shield. Once you feel yourself flowing with the movement, add the mantra, "I am safe and protected." Continue as you generate inner refreshment and feel your presence grow. After about 2 minutes (or whenever you feel complete), center your energy by bringing palm over palm to rest on your lower belly. Smile and enjoy feeling the energy you just created.

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