Yoga practice

Yoga to prevent and recover from illness

In this time of the year, we are more vulnerable to catching a cold or the flu. So have I and several people around me, unfortunately. On the positive side: being ill for a few days inspired me to share a few practices with you that may be beneficial when you’re feeling ill. Some of them boost the immune system, others can simply make you feel a little better.

1. Breathing: in general, breathing exercises help to calm down the nervous system. This is beneficial in preventing illness, because chronic stress suppresses the immune system.

A great exercise is anulom vilom or alternate nostril breathing. This exercise calms the mind and is also effective in reducing headaches.

Another exercise, which is actually a kriya or cleansing practice, is kapalbhati. It is practiced by contracting the abdominal muscles and forcefully exhaling on each second. This exercise cleanses the nasal passage, lungs and respiratory system, so good to prevent a cold!

If you have abdominal cramps, however, I would not recommend that one – then just go for deep abdominal breathing to calm your stomach.

Of course, when you’re ill, you may have both headaches and a cold. Which exercise do you choose then? Always listen to your body to decide whether or not to use the exercises.

2. Yoga asana: a full yoga asana sequence in general stimulates all internal organs and bodily systems to function well, so regular practice is always a good idea to maintain good health.

However, if you’re ill, it may be too much to do all asanas. I kept it to a short and gentle sequence, consisting of cat/cow, a seated side body stretch, an easy half bridge pose, reclining knee-to-chest pose and a gentle seated twist. Even though lying down in bed may be all you want to do, some easy movement makes you feel better!

3. Relaxation: for the body to recover, deep relaxation is very important. Yoga nidra is a technique that helps you relax at all levels, and it is sometimes believed that one hour of yoga nidra is equal to four hours of sleep. Worth a try, isn’t it?

I hope these tips help you to stay well or get well soon if you’re ill! If you’re not familiar with any of the things I described, feel free to send me a message and ask.

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