We know regular exercise boosts our immune system, but it’s more than the get-your-body moving component of a practice that makes yoga a cold-fighting superhero. Yoga reduces stress, which compromises the immune system. And it strengthens the lungs and respiratory system.
If you’ve got a cold, try these five poses at home instead of in class — we’re all for sharing unless it’s a sniffly nose and sore throat…
1. SUPPORTED CHILD’S POSE
Child’s pose, a resting stop in many classes, is a salve that soothes and calms the body. It stretches the low back, hips, thighs and ankles. It also increases circulation to the head, which can relieve stress, fatigue and headaches. To help relieve sinus pressure and headaches, rest your forehead on the wide, flat side of a block in this variation.
The move: To begin, kneel down and sit on your heels with your knees and feet together. As you exhale, bend forward, placing your forehead on the block. Bring your arms to the floor next to your thighs with the palms up. Relax and let gravity help release your shoulders toward the floor.
2. STANDING FORWARD FOLD
This pose can help drain the sinuses.
The move: Stand in mountain pose. As you inhale, sweep your arms overhead. Keep your low belly drawn in to help counteract arching your back. As you exhale, hinge from the hips and swan dive forward with your arms out like wings. Keep a bend in your knees and rest your hands on a block or hold onto opposite elbows. Let your head be heavy, relax your eyes and hold here for 5–10 breaths. Then, bring your hands to your hips, inhale, lift your torso with a flat back and return to mountain.
3. SUPPORTED BRIDGE
This variation of bridge opens the chest, improves respiration and helps with congestion.
The move: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor with your ankles under your knees. Your feet should be hip-width apart and parallel so all 10 toes point in the same direction. Arms rest on the floor by your sides, palms down.
As you inhale, press into the backs of the arms and the feet, tilt the pelvis up, and lift your hips up until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Lift your heels to create more space and place a block — either the short, medium or tall way — under your low back. Make a goalpost shape with your arms.
Camel pose stretches the entire front of the body. Chest openers like camel can help with respiratory problems.
The move: Kneel on your mat so your hips are lifted off of your butt and hips and knees form one line. You may want to double up your mat or place a blanket under you if you have sensitive knees.
Press your palms into your low back so your fingers face the sky. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides. Use your hands to gently broaden your back.
As you inhale, roll your shoulders back, let your chest expand and arch your back. Keep your head up and hips in line with your ankles.
READ MORE 5-POSE YOGA FIXES
5. LEGS UP THE WALL
Legs up the wall alleviates headaches, calms the mind and relieves low-back pain.
The move: Sit with one hip next to a wall. Swing your legs up parallel to the wall as you lean back and rest your upper body on the ground, forming an L shape.
If your hamstrings are tight, scoot your hips back a few inches from the wall or put a slight bend in your knees. For added support, you can also place a folded blanket or bolster beneath your low back. This will lift your butt off the ground slightly.
Rest your hands on your belly, lay them by your sides or form a goalpost shape with your palms facing upward to open up your chest.
Focus on long, slow breaths, keeping your inhales and exhales even. Hold this pose for 5–10 minutes. Then press your feet into the wall, lift your hips slightly and roll to one side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, taking your time to come out of the pose. Then, return to a seated position.
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