Jan 31, 2020

Favorite Yoga Poses to alleviate Cold and Flu symptoms

First of all - this post doesn’t claim to give any medical advice; if you have a fever or feel extremely sick, you may want to refrain from physical activity! In the following I have listed the poses that help me personally to alleviate symptoms that come along with a cold or flu.

I guess it comes with the territory to get sick in January. At least a lot of my friends and family and myself experience it these days. When sick, the body needs rest, for sure. I have also experienced, however, that laying around and not moving at all for long periods of time influences my wellbeing negatively – my physical, but also my mental emotional well-being that is. Energy gets stuck – my mind feels frustrated and my body sluggish.

Thus - once the acute state of a cold has moderated - I like to do some gentle stretching and use yoga poses to further support the healing process. The following poses are not supposed to be performed dynamically or intensely, but rather in a restorative manner – holding them gently for longer periods of time (at least for 10 long breaths, but up to several minutes). They direct energy and circulation to certain body parts that are usually affected by a common cold and that play an important role in healing.

These poses can also be practiced when experiencing stress and exhaustion. They are generally focused on relieving tension from the mind and activating the body’s inherent healing powers.

1. Standing Forward Fold / Uttanasana

Brings energy to the head and respiratory system and has a calming effect. If your sinuses are extremely congested you may want to check in with the pressure in your head, but if you can sustain the pose easily, give it a try. Hold this pose gently, relax the neck and keep the knees soft. When leaving the pose take your time and pay attention on the circulation in your head. 

2. Seated or Reclined Twist / Ardha Matseyndrasana

Stimulates and detoxifies the internal organs and rids them of any toxins stuck in the system. Twisting poses are best done on an empty stomach, or at least 2-3 hours after eating. Keep the spine and the neck long and don’t strain. Use the exhale to twist and massage the core of your body. Drink loads of water after practicing, supporting the body in flushing the toxins.

3. Supported Bridge Pose / Setu Bandhasana

Opens up chest and increases circulation in the upper body that is usually affected by respiratory infections. With support under the pelvis (blocks or cushions) you can stay in the pose for long periods for a gentle and restorative effect. To get in the pose, lay down on your back, lift your hips by pressing into the feet and then place the support under the sacrum (not under the spine). Arms can be placed alongside the body or above the head to further open the torso.

4. Legs-up-the-wall / Viparita Karani

This gentle inversion alleviates respiratory cold symptoms, relieves the heart, calms he nervous system and boosts the immune system. You can practice it with a support under the pelvis (block or cushion) to gently elevate the hips over the heart. I like to hold this pose for up to 20 minutes!

5. Reclined Bound Angle Pose / Supta Baddha Konasana

Gently stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees and stimulates the heart and abdominal organs like the ovaries and prostate gland, bladder, and kidneys. If the pose is intense on your groins, support your knees or legs with cushions, to make sure you are not holding any tension but relax into the pose. When leaving the posture, use your hands to help bringing the knees together and roll onto one side.

6. Corps-Pose / Savasana

Last but not least - don’t forget your Savasana (like I forgot to take a picture of it)! Lay down on your back extending arms and legs. Cover yourself or put on an extra layer of clothes to feel warm and relaxed. Rest is so essential for healing! When your body is no longer concerned with doing, moving and performing, it shifts from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic side, where the immune system, and other essential systems are restored and enhanced – healing can take place. Give yourself as much time as you need to feel fully grounded and relaxed!