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Yoga and Illness: What and How to Practice

Yoga and colds - should you still practice?

While yoga devotees often tout their resilience to illness, colds and flu invariably crop up from time to time. When getting on the mat is as natural as brushing your teeth, the idea of passing on a practice may seem unthinkable! However, illness provides a real-world moment to practice being kind and attentive to yourself. The knowledge you have gained through your yoga practice can help you bring your body through its weakened state with love and kindness. The principles are the same, both on and off the mat.

Tune in and listen to your body. If you are considering attendance at your usual yoga class, skip it. Your fellow classmates will thank you for not sharing your "viral moment." Opt for a home practice instead. If you are exhausted, vomiting or have diarrhea, it is best to rest. If you get on your mat at all, let it be for meditation.

If your body says yes, be gentle! Stick with a sequence that keeps you close to the floor, such as Seated Twist, or a gentle standing sequence, such as Extended Leg Balance. If you are suffering from an upset stomach or severe head congestion, consider avoiding inverted poses that will bring more pressure to the sinus cavities. If you feel yourself growing tired, honor that message and rest.

Focus on nourishment. When you are experiencing an illness, your body deserves the very best nourishment you can provide to come through this moment as quickly and completely as possible. Be sure to drink water and treat yourself to delicious warm broths and soups. Add spices to stoke the fires of your immune system. There are some great Ayurvedic recipes that can help. Fresh fruits and vegetables offer the most nourishment, so if you are able, be sure to incorporate these in your recovery plan as much as possible.

Come back with care. You may feel much better, but your body could still be depleted. Choose a restorative sequence like Earth or Lotus Link to ease back into your practice. With kindness, attention and care, your illness can be viewed as a moment of restoration. With this mindset in place, you may return to health with new vigor and vitality.



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