Yoga When Sick?

Hey Readers,

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to blog!  But, blah, as I am currently home with a bug that has been plaguing me since last week, I have some downtime, though I may fall asleep in the middle of it.

Yoga has many facets, BKS Iyengar compares it to a diamond, where each cut reflects a different color of light.  Krishnamacharya, who many call the father of modern yoga, was an accomplished ayurvedic practitioner.  Ayurveda is the practice of natural medicine, using diet, fluids, oils, etc. to assist in healing.

Now, there is definitely a time and place for modern medicine, as a premature baby myself, who has asthma, modern medicine, vaccines and the doctors who prescribed them, have saved my life more times than I can count.  However, when you are at home in bed with the yucky feelings that I am having now, there are some principles of  yoga and Ayurveda that can assist your body in returning to its natural processes.  Most Ayurveda and yoga practices should feel like the common sense medicine, things that your mommy and grandma would do/say to you when you were sick in bed.  By the way, mommies and grandmas are the best nurses ever.  Please, of course, remember my disclaimer in my very first yoga blog post- always talk to your doctor and listen to your own body.  Nothing here is to be used in replacement of the guidance of medical advice.

Alright, it should really come as no surprise to you, especially if you practice various forms of yoga daily, that the best things for the improvement of your body are what ALL will always say first.  It doesn’t matter if it comes from a Harvard degree wielding M.D. or a shaman from the middle of nowhere with no formal background, the two most important things your body needs, and will be the first prescribed are… You guessed it!  Fluids and Rest.  Water flushes out the gunk, rest allows your brain to direct more manpower to your immune system.  So, drink a big glass of water and go into a Savasana that will hopefully turn into a nap.  Illness happens, unfortunately, so take the day off work and let your white blood cells earn their keep.

What has been going around my area, has been absconding children from my classroom and has reached me finally, are the combined bugs of cold/allergy with what I am guessing, is a stomach virus.  Yogic things to do, to the rescue!

For the oh-so-glamorous-chesty-cough combined with stuffy nose and sinus headache:

It is allergy season and our sinuses are being angels *sarcasm*, draining mucus from our heads, down our throats and into our lungs.  To help ease your discomfort, maybe take a peek at the following ideas, or report back with things that have helped you!

1.  Eucalyptus and Mint: These are ingredients in Vapo Rub, bath salts and essential oils that help open the nose and calm the flaring in the chest.  Both are strong scents that cool, without being too spicy on the body. Put some oil in a diffuser and/or humidifier, take a hot shower or tub with salts or oils and rub some of the goodness on your chest and put a tad right under your nose.


2.  After rubbing Vapo or the oils (with a carrier oil) onto your chest, take supported fish pose with some blocks or bolsters.  This helps to open your chest and throat, is a resting posture and gives your lower back a gentle stretch.  If you’ve been coughing and curling your body inward, this is a nice posture to counteract the abrupt and violent motions that hacking up a lung puts your body through.

For the, “Stomach, why do you hate me?  Stop rebelling!” symptoms:

Tummy Bugs are the worst, and are really tough to deal with because sometimes you just need to wait it out, in the case of my virus now.  Stomach flu has polar symptoms for many, some have diarrhea, whereas others have bloating and constipation, and the way to deal with them are opposites!  Again, first defense is water.  Drink and rinse out.

If suffering from diarrhea or vomiting, avoid twisting or curling inward on your abdominal organs.  Find some water with electrolytes to help balance your pH.  Light a lavender candle or use camomile oil, both calming scents, to give you some relief from the smells and upsets.  Avoid spicy foods that will inflame your tummy and listen to your body, don’t avoid running to the restroom.  This is your body’s mechanism for ridding itself of something it can get rid of.


Breathe.  Again, our bodily functions like coughing and vomiting, are violent methods that our muscles use to help expel bad things from our body.  Sometimes our bodies go into reflex mode after being sick for so long, and continue to contract when there is nothing left to expel, thus tummy cramping.  Your yoga breathing helps tell your brain’s vagus nerve, which controls your parasympathetic nervous system, to send messages to the rest of your nerves that is is OK to calm down and stop the hyper- vigilance.

Taking any combination of the above photo, which has supported bridge pose, and reclined butterfly, are great poses to help calm your breath and your abdominal organs.  Stretching them gently to keep from cramping and allowing yourself a comfortable way to rest and focus on your inhales and exhales.  Calm your panting by slowing down your breath cycle.  Inhale for 4 counts, pause for 1, exhale for 4 counts, pause for 1.  That is 10 seconds.  6 cycles per minute.


If having bloating or uncomfortable pressure, take knees to chest, one at a time, or both together.  Go up into happy baby or take a reclined twist.  This stimulates the muscles in the abdominal organs to remind them that they have a job to do.

Ok, time for me to heed my own advice and rest.  If you are sick like me, feel better!  If you aren’t sick- wash your hands often!


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