If you’d rather avoid this season’s colds and flus, you might want to consider spending a little bit more time on the yoga mat!
We believe in a practice which helps to increase the circulation of lymph fluid (a clear watery fluid which moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and flushing them out via the lymph nodes). So unlike blood, which is pumped round the body by the heart, lymph fluid is moved through the body via muscular contractions, so physical exercise like yoga is really important to keep the lymph moving and the body free of nasty stuff!
The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so poses where the head is below the heart (like inversions and forward bends) allow the lymph into the respiratory organs, where bacteria and germs enter the body. And when you return to an upright position, the lymph drains with gravity – sending it to your lymph nodes for clearing out of the body! See below for a sequence designed to do just that!
* Don’t wait for the first sign of a cold to start this practice – prevention is better than cure! And going upside down when you are already feeling under the weather can agitate the body further. Build the practice up slowly to build your immune system steadily.
* Hold poses for 3-5 minutes and breath slowly and deeply through your diaphragm. And support your head in every posture rather than just letting it hang! This will allow your nose and throat to fully relax so you can reap the benefits of the practice!
* These postures should all be SUPPORTED with a blanket, bolster or block to ensure their restorative properties
1 Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Begin by sitting on your feet, with your knees separated and your big toes touching. With your eyes closed, fold your torso forward, letting your forehead rest on the floor or on a support such as a bolster, blanket, or block so your head and neck can rest more fully. Place your arms on the floor in front of you, allowing the elbows to bend out to the sides.
2 Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), supported
From Balasana, press your hands into the floor, tuck your toes under, and lift your hips up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Rest your head on a support. Extend through your inner arms while pressing the tops of your thighbones firmly back and away from your face.
3 Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
From Adho Mukha Svanasana, walk your feet until they are in line with your hands and come up to standing, maintaining a flat back. Bring your feet about 4 feet apart and fold your torso forward, resting your head on the floor or on a support. Place your hands on the floor to the inside of your feet.
4 Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), supported
From Prasarita Padottanasana, place your hands on your hips and, maintaining a flat back, come up to standing. Bring your feet hip-width apart and on an exhalation, fold forward, resting your head on a support. Clasp the back of your heels with your hands, gently bringing your torso toward your legs.
5 Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), supported
Lie on your back with your shoulders on the folded edge of one or more blankets. The shoulders are supported by the blanket, and your head, but not your neck, rests on the ground. Lift your legs to vertical, supporting your midback with your hands and keeping your upper arms and elbows parallel to each other.
6 Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips and place a block (standing on either the wide or its tall end, depending on what feels good for your body) underneath your sacrum. This really gets into the kidneys and adrenals! Ground the outside of your shoulders into the floor and lift the sides of your torso up, keeping your front ribs, sternum, and collarbones open.
7 Sukhasana (Easy pose)
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the edge of one or more folded blankets, making sure that your knees are lower than the top of your pelvis. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing down. Elongate the sides of your torso and lift your sternum. Create space under your armpits by imagining you have a small balloon under each arm. Breathe fully, focusing on the inhalation.