Everyone seems to be ill at the moment, here's a yoga cold remedy to help reduce coughing, sneezing and spluttering. It's that time of year when germs really thrive! I caught a cold last week, I am blaming the children from my kids yoga class, they are little germ factories, poor things! I had a stuffy nose, blocked head, headache, the works and the last thing I wanted to do was practice a full on set of asanas. So I took a few days off my mat just to allow my body to recover and start fighting. I listened to my body and what it was telling me. On the third day I got on my mat, lay down in savasana and again made a conscious effort to let my body be my guide as to whether I should practice. And it told me to do a headstand.
Sceptically I began to prepare myself for the posture, and I found myself coming into it with ease, and more importantly my head and breathing started to clear. I then carried on with the shoulder stand, plough, bridge, wheel and ended up taking a full asana class. As I moved through the poses my mind began to wonder what it was about the asanas that helped relieve the symptoms, and of course it is the gentle movement, the change in pressure during an inverted posture such as the headstand or shoulderstand, and the meditative care that is taken during a class, the thorough observation and relaxation of the body allows recovery to take place quicker as energy is not being focused on holding tension where it isn't necessary to hold. I really enjoyed the release I felt in the pigeon pose, relaxing down into my hips allowing the tension to melt away, and the feeling of letting go that I felt right down in the pit of my stomach, into my internal organs. It was wonderful. I finished the class feeling refreshed and able to breathe with my headache and fatigue lifted.
So I thought it might be helpful to put together a few asanas to speed up your recovery from the dreaded cold, these can be practiced even if you are feeling under the weather as they are very restorative poses and designed to give maximum relaxation to the body with very effort required on your behalf-
1) Supported Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This pose brings energy to the head and respiratory area and helps clear to the sinuses.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and rest your forearms on a chair seat. You can also place a blanket on the chair seat for extra padding. Hold two to five minutes.
2) Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Setu Bandhasana)
This pose opens up the chest and increases the circulation to the upper torso.
Place a few folded blankets on the floor running down the entire length of your body (the height of this support can vary from 6-12 inches). Sit on the middle of the support and lie back. Move your head towards the end of the blankets until your shoulders lightly touch the floor. Open your arms out to the sides, palms turned up. Rest with your legs stretched out on the bolster or with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Relax for a minimum of five minutes.
3) Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This brings energy to the groin and opens up the chest area to help breathing.
With the back of the pelvis on a blanket placed 4-6 inches away from the wall, swing the legs up the wall. Drop your sitting bones into the space between the blanket and the wall and open your arms out to the sides. If your hamstrings feel tight, try turning the legs slightly in, or move the blanket further away from the wall. Hold for a minimum of five minutes.
4) Supported Bound Angle Pose (Salamba Baddha Konasana)
This pose opens the chest, abdomen, and groin. It also relaxes the nervous system.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent towards your chest. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees open towards the floor. Support the outer thighs with folded blankets at a comfortable height. You can also place sandbags on each inner thigh to deepen relaxation. Release the arms out to the sides and let go of any tension. Relax in the pose for a minimum of five minutes.
5) Reclining Twist (Modified Jathara Parivartanasana)
This releases physical and stress-based tension.
Lie on your back and with an exhalation bend your knees and draw your thighs to your torso. Shift your pelvis slightly to the left and, with another exhalation, swing your legs to the right and down to the floor (if they don't rest comfortably on the floor, support them on a folded blanket). Turn your upper torso to the left. Rest your right hand on the outer left knee and stretch your left arm to the side, in line with your shoulders. Look straight up or close your eyes. Relax for three minutes. Repeat on the other side.
6) Widespread Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
This pose quietens the internal organs and the mind.
Sit on the floor with your sitting bones on the edge of a folded blanket. Straighten your legs out in front of you and then separate them as far as you comfortably can. Rest your upper torso on a block or if you're more stiff a chair seat. If you are using a chair, you can fold your forearms on the seat for more height and padding. Hold the pose for three to five minutes.
After this sequence relax in savasana for at least 10 minutes, being aware of how you body feels after these postures and then meditating to clear your mind.
Get well soon.