I am surrounded by sick people! Friends at work are coughing. My boys both stayed home from school last week with sore throats (twins – yep they often get sick together). Even the guy selling me a car was sniffling as he looked up looked up things …
It is just that time of year.
But before you resign yourself to it, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent those annoying colds and flus. Yoga is one of them!
Yoga supports your immune system. It:
- Detoxifies. Yoga poses squeeze your organs. It’s ok, this is a good thing! It detoxifies and brings fresh oxygenated blood to them.
- Conditions the lungs and respiratory tract through breath practices.
- Reduces stress. Yoga lowers stress hormones that compromise immunity.
- Moves energy. Yoga triggers acupressure points and meridians associated with vitality.
- Stimulates the lymph system. Contracting and stretching muscles through yoga poses increases lymph drainage and helps fight infection.
Yin yoga is a quiet challenge. It is both supportive and strong. The long holds, inward focus, and movement of breath are ideal in creating a practice that promotes vitality.
Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, says that the immune system is the body’s intelligence (love that!) Your body knows how to take care of itself. You just have to give it the proper tools and space.
Here is a short yin sequence designed to support your body’s immune function and awaken its inner intelligence!
It includes forward and backward bends plus a twist. Energetically, this targets your kidney meridian. It moves chi (energy) through the meridian, increases vitality and strengthens your immune system. Bending your spine in all directions improves circulation in your lymphatic system. Additionally, the twisting squeezes and detoxifies your organs. Mentally, Yin is an inwardly-focused practice that induces calm and reduces stress. Mmmmm, delicious … how could you say no?!
30 Minutes of Yin Yoga for Vitality
This would be a great sequence for the evening before bed. Light some candles, play your favourite tunes softly, and relax in. Hold each pose for about 5 minutes. I use Insight Timer for this. I am also a huge fan of using props in a Yin or restorative practice. So bring on the blankets, pillows, blocks – whatever allows you to sink in, relax and let go of muscular involvement.
(Click here for an illustrated version of this sequence that you can print as a guide)
1. Diamond – Hold 5 minutes
Sit on the floor and bring the bottoms of your feet together. They should be about a foot or more out from your groin (like Butterfly pose but feet are further out). Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and fold forward. In this version allow your spine to round, creating traction throughout. Support your forehead with a block or stack of blankets so your neck can relax completely.
2. Sphinx – Hold 5 minutes
Set your elbows under your shoulders with your forearms on the floor parallel to each other. Bring your chest and torso forward to move into a gentle backbend. Feel an opening in the front of the torso and chest. I like to place a bolster crosswise beneath my torso for support. Allow you head to hang or support it with a block or two.
3. Sleeping Swan – Hold 5 minutes each side
Place your right knee behind the right wrist. Gently stretch the left leg out behind you and allow your hips to sink towards the mat. Your torso starts in an upright position. Take a breath in, exhale and gently fold forward. Come to rest on your forearms; perhaps eventually moving all the way down with your forehead on the floor. For a more restorative version, place a bolster beneath your torso turning your head to one side.
Repeat on the other side starting with your left knee behind your left wrist.
4. Twisted Roots – Hold 5 minutes each side
Put your feet flat on floor, knees bent. Let your knees gently fall to one side. Place a support under the knees if you like. You can look in the opposite direction if it is comfortable for your neck. This version is more freeform than its yang counterpart. Your legs can be bent or straight. Stretch your arms out to the side or higher (cactus arms) depending on what you can comfortably hold. Target area is the spine.
5a. Pentacle – Hold 5 minutes (or more)
Pentacle is like Savasana but more spacious! Relax on your back. Stretch your legs and arms out wide in a star shape, palms up. Relax into your mat. Hold for 5 minutes or longer to integrate the practice.
5b. Legs up the wall (alternate ending): My boys like to read “choose your own adventure” stories. Today, please choose the ending that suits your practice and mood. Legs up the wall would be lovely here, particularly if you are doing an evening practice. It has all kinds of therapeutic benefits and I love doing it right before bed.
Wishing you a fun and vibrant week.