I’m sick right now, so this might not be the best article I’ve ever written. I hope you’ll forgive me. While I am coughing up a storm and blowing my nose like it’s about to go out of style, I still feel somewhat decent overall. I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s pretty bad. This has been the first time I can remember, that while having the common cold I’m still smiling and laughing and enjoying myself (as much as one can with the common cold).
I’ve been trying to identify why I’m not sulking and moaning like I normally do when I catch a case of the sniffles, but there’s only one thing that I’ve been doing differently. You guessed it… Yoga. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not well. I still feel awful, and yoga hasn’t magically cured by illness by any means. I think it has helped me think more clearly and helped my body heal a little differently than it has in the past, though.
I just want to share a couple yoga poses for when you are sick that I’ve been doing in hopes that you get some relief as well! This article is for those who are suffering from a common cold. I’m not a doctor, and if you have the flu or something else more severe, I recommend consulting one before taking my advice.
Don’t Over Exert Yourself
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to stress the fact that your body is trying to heal itself, right now. You shouldn’t be putting any extra strain on your body, forcing it to work harder than it needs to. Rather, you should keep the exercise and movements minimal and very light.
You should focus more on breathing than anything else. It may be difficult, especially with a runny nose, but your body needs to expel the bad air and take in the clean air. It shouldn’t be focused on trying to repair muscle tissue or achy limbs from an intense exercise.
Keep your movements gentle and fluid. Breathe deep with each move you make, and try to focus on healing. The mind is a powerful thing. If you can focus your energy towards fighting the virus you’re battling, perhaps you’ll see that you can heal much faster than normal.
Light Stretching, Easy Does It
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Go easy on your body. This might be hard for you if you’re used to an intense yoga workout 7 days a week. Trust me, though. Don’t do it. Truly, you should be resting up as much as you can while you’re feeling down. It will make the healing process much faster.
While you should definitely rest up, there isn’t anything wrong with moving around a little. You’re going to have to use the bathroom once or twice, anyway. Right? Movement keeps the blood flowing and can do some good for your body, that lying around can’t provide.
Some great yoga stretches and postures that I recommend for when you’re sick are:
- Mountain Pose
- Baby Cobra
- Forward Fold
- Happy Baby
I will go into each of these poses, what they are and the benefits of each, in the sections below.
Cat-Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
The cat-cow asana is one of my favorite poses in yoga. It’s a very simple exercise that requires you to get on your hands and knees in a table-top position. The cat part of the movement rounds out your spine, arching your back as if you were an angry cat. You then release slowly back into table-top and move towards the cow position. The cow position opens the chest and allows your breathing to be more full.
Here’s a great video that explains how to do cat-cow pose for those new to yoga. It’s very important to focus on your breath while doing this, as you won’t reap the benefits without doing so. Cat-cow is wonderful because it relieves tension in the back, neck, and hips as well as increases your flexibility in your shoulders and spine.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana, or mountain pose, is great for when you’re sick because it requires very little effort at all. You simply stand upright, feet together or shoulder width apart, and with your arms either to your side or hands together at the chest in a prayer-esque position.
Mountain pose is important because it is your foundation. It helps calm your breathing and allows you to focus on the different parts of your body in a neutral position. It not only is good for your breath, but it helps with awareness, posture, and balance. This video gives a great demonstration on mountain pose!
Baby Cobra (Bhujangasana)
The baby cobra pose is another favorite of mine, possibly because one of the noticeable benefits is an elevated mood. I tend to feel happier throughout the day when I incorporate any cobra variation into my practice. Baby cobra is the same as the cobra pose, but without as much stress on the back or shoulders. You don’t have to force yourself into quite as deep of a stretch, but you still get the warmth in your lower back.
Baby cobra and other cobra poses helps with flexibility and strengthens muscles in your shoulders, abdomen, back, and chest. To practice the baby cobra, first lay down on your belly with your hands just underneath the shoulders. Your legs should be extended with the tops of your feet pressed against the mat. You then inhale while gently pressing away from your mat, lifting your front body up. You finish by lowering back down on your exhale.
Here’s a short video on what it looks like.
Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Forward fold can be great for your sinuses. The upside-down aspect is rejuvenating in itself, and allows your head to sink below your heart, great for blood flow. The standing forward fold, also has benefits to the spine, hips and legs.
The arch of the back is great for flexibility, not only in the spine, but in the calves and hamstrings as well. To do a standing forward fold, start in mountain pose and simply collapse your body forward. Remember to go slowly and gently.
Here’s a breakdown of the forward fold, what to do and what not to do.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Happy is great for opening the hips and relieving stress. It’s nice to lay on your back, grab your feet and just roll around a little in infant-like bliss. This stretch is not only easily do-able, but it’s great on the back as well as the hips.
To get into happy baby posture, simply lie on your back and lift your legs as if you’re a dead bug. Grab the outer edges of the feet, your ankles, toes, or heels. You and kick out your legs in whatever motion feels good.
Here’s a nice instructional video explaining the ananda balasana pose.
Sickness Can’t Stop Us
I hope this helps motivate you to move around a little while you’re sick. Remember, your body is trying to heal itself, so don’t over work yourself. Focus on your breathing more than anything, but it should feel good to stretch your body out a little.
This video has a great full body exercise that incorporates many of the exercises mentioned above as well as a few extras. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest to get over that illness ASAP. Feel free to share any other ideas that you have for doing yoga when you’re sick.