Right now, as I write this, we are in the thick of the holidays. With Thanksgiving already behind us, its full steam ahead to New Years Day. It’s cold, windy and rainy/snowy outside. We are running around trying to get things done before the end of the year. Holiday parties and family obligations are keeping us up later than normal. Many of us are skipping the usual exercise routine, eating more processed unhealthy foods and consuming higher amounts of alcohol. All of this can leave us feeling run down and tired; but we keep going…..and going….and going. Our immune systems are starting to feel the effects. It starts with a cough, then a sneeze, then before we know it, a full-blown cold or flu. But this is NOT the time to get sick. So we push through. We do whatever we can to feel good enough to continue on. The cold and flu lingers and lingers until eventually our body says ENOUGH!
I’ve seen quite a few yogi’s in my classes with colds lately, and I understand. Many of us feel that yoga will help us get rid of our cold or flu, and it can………sometimes. Many public yoga classes can be really challenging physically. You may end up feeling worse than when you walked in. Not to mention, when you have a stuffy nose, it’s impossible to breathe deeply, making it difficult to focus. It’s common to feel light-headed in class if you can’t breathe properly which can result in injury. And finally, you are sharing space with other yogis who are now breathing in whatever germs you have, leaving them vulnerable, and that’s not good either.
So my suggestion is, when you are really sick, stop, stay home and rest. By doing this, you help your immune system fight whatever is happening, and you will feel better sooner. If you get sick, please don’t come to yoga class, or any group fitness class. Stay home, take care of yourself, drink plenty of fluids, sleep, eat a spicy broth soup, drink herbal tea, catch up on your favorite TV shows, and take care of yourself!
Some restorative yoga can help ease the aches and pains that are associate with colds and the flu. Below are a few of my favorites that you can practice at home. Practice one or all of them any time you feel under the weather. I recommend resting in the pose for a minimum of five minutes. Set the tone by creating a calming atmosphere; dim the lights, use candles or oils, play soothing music. I highly recommend getting rid of distractions like cell phones if possible. While in the posture, focus on taking slow and smooth breaths. Bolsters, blankets and blocks are great yoga tools for restoratives. Manduka and Hugger Mugger sell really good quality and eco-friendly yoga props.
“Balasana” Restorative Childs Pose
You can do this without a bolster between your legs, but the added support feels really good. Childs pose is a lovely way to get grounded, release tension in the low back and stretch the hips. Use extra padding for knees and ankles if needed.
Rotating Childs Pose
Great pose to release tension in the back and neck. Make sure to do both sides.
“Supta Baddha Konasana” Reclined Bound Angle Pose
This pose is a great way to gently open the shoulders and hips. I like to place a blanket behind my head for added lift. Placing blocks or pillows under the knees is optional. You can also do this with the legs straight or feet flat on the floor, knees bent.
“Setu Bandha Sarvangasana” Restorative Bridge Pose #1
Another great gentle front body opener and shoulder release. I could fall asleep in this pose. Make sure your legs and hips are elevated either on blankets or a bolster and your shoulders and head are on the floor.
Restorative Bridge Pose #2
This is a great grounding pose that opens up the shoulders and releases tension in the low back. Arms overhead is optional, just rest your arms wherever feels most comfortable. You can also use a bolster or blankets to elevate the hips. Make sure your entire low back feels supported.
“Sarvangasana” Restorative Shoulder Stand
Gentle inversions like these can be very soothing, calming and healing, however if you have lot’s of congestion, you may start to feel light-headed, so use your best judgement. Again make sure the block or bolster is supporting your low back and reach your legs straight up (not towards your chest). This can also be done with knees bent and feet off the floor if the hamstrings feel tight.
“Paschimottanasana” Supported Forward Fold
Forward folds help stretch and release hamstrings. This variation also helps release back muscles when done passively with the support of a bolster or blanket. If your hamstrings are really tight, I recommend skipping this one and moving to the next pose. You can also take this pose with legs wide.
“Vapirita Kirani” Legs up the Wall Variations
This is one of the loveliest and easiest ways to invert with little to no effort. These are three different leg variations. You do not have to be as close to the wall as pictured. This is not meant to be a hamstring stretch.