When under the weather, Yoga can add a bit of comfort and opening to the body. Asanas help circulate lymp fluid and assist lymphatic drainage, strenthening the immune system. Twists nourish the spine and internal heat created by movement helps rid the body of viruses, breaking down static energy.
Also try drinking ginger tea. It acts as a decongestant, and helps stimulate slow digestion. Also, lemon juice with water and honey soothes a sore throat, and boosts vitamin C.
Lymph is a clear, watery fluid that circulates through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes. Unlike blood, which moves as a result of the heart pumping, lymph moves by muscular contractions. Physical exercise, such as yoga, is key for keeping lymph flowing. The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so anytime your head is below your heart—for example, in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)—lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you return to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph, sending it through your lymph nodes for cleansing. Source Article: Immunity Boost, Yoga Journal. *Also, the website Acupressure Points for Colds and Flu is very visual and shows how to access your accupressure points.
Below are various poses that are known to help bring comfort and immune system support. Click on a posture and it will take you to directions on how to do each pose. Be gentle with yourself. Listen to the limits that the body is setting at the moment. Close your eyes, and focus on the breath. Begin to deepen the breath over time. Allow the throat, jaw, and mouth to soften. Move slowly, holding postures as long as is comfortable. As always, use caution and be sure not to practice anything that is contraindicated for you and if trying a more difficult pose, work with a yoga teacher.
- Sun Salutations
- Supported Forward Fold
- Supported Plow Pose
- Child Pose with Block
- Supported Downward Facing Dog
- Supported Shoulder Stand
- Reclining Spinal Twist
- Supported Bridge Pose
Below are 2 short videos that can help gently relieve symptoms and boost the immune system.
…When It’s Really Bad!
Sometimes you need more rest than anything else. These restorative, gentle poses allow you to rest while providing therapeutic effects:
1) Supported Matseyasana (Fish Pose) opens the chest and heart, helping to relieve congestion. Backbends warm and enegize the body. There are several variations for supporting this pose by using blankets, blocks, bolsters, pillows etc. Below is a short video to show the basics.
2) Supported Spinal Twist provides movemment of thoracic cavity, releases tension and stiffnes from lying in bed. Stimulates abdominal organs, including gall bladder and liver. (Info below from ‘Yoga With Katrina’)
With twists always create space in the spine before twisting.
Start in an upright position with your hips steady on the earth. Sit on your right hip with your knees to the front and your feet to the left. INHALE to lift up, getting taller through your spine and the crown of your head, then EXHALE to twist. Breathe 30 seconds to 1 minute, then come forward over your bolster with an exhale. You can turn your head to the left or right, depending on what your neck prefers.
TRANSITION: When you are ready to come up, INHALE up and untwist. Use your arms to help you lift up and repeat on the other side.
Note: I’ve shown the head looking behind in the first photo, and the head looking forward in this one above. If you look back it includes the cervical spine in the twist more fully, but only do this if it is not forced or strained.
3) Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) As all inversions, this pose brings blood flow to heart and brain as well as facilitating lymph drainage. It opens the chest area to facilitate breathing. It is very calming and promotes peaceful sleep. Start seated with left side of body in contact with wall, feet on floor in front of you. Lie on back and pivot so backs of your legs press against wall, bottoms of feet are facing up. You may wish to place a rolled up blanket under your neck. Sitting bones pressed against or close to wall, back and head rested on floor (body in 90-degree angle). If desired, you can slide a bolster or folded blanket under the hips by pressing feet into the wall, lifting the hips. Relax head and neck in neutral position, soften face. Rest hands on belly or at your your sides, palms up. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths through your nose for 5-15 minutes. To come out, push the bottoms of your feet into wall lifting hips slightly. Slide your support out of the way if you used one. Gently roll to one side and stay for a few breaths before rising. Contraindications: (as with any inversion): menstruation, pregnancy, glaucoma, high blood pressure
4) Supported Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) Lie on mat with bolster, pillows, and or blankets under your back and head for support. Bring the soles of your feet together, knees point out to the sides (as shown). Relax into pose and stay 3-15 minutes while breathing deeply. Benefits: opens chest and groin, allows lumbar to rest. Contraindications: none