Yoga for Colds & Flu

“Yoga has a threefold impact on health. It keeps healthy people healthy, it inhibits the development of diseases, and it aids in recovery from ill health.” – BKS Iyengar, Light on Life (p.60)

Yoga not only delivers physical benefits like improved flexibility and increased strength, but also helps to regulate and boost the body’s immune system – which is pretty handy during the winter months when many of us become less active and more susceptible to colds, flu and other infections!

In his book Yoga – the path to holistic health, BKS Iyengar outlines a number of yoga sequences designed to help recover and manage many health conditions and ailments, including high blood pressure, indigestion, diabetes, headaches, insomnia, colds and many others. 

Colds are viral infections of the mucous membrane that line the upper respiratory tract, including the nose and throat. Common symptoms include nasal discharge, sinusitis, sore throat, sneezing, coughing and headaches.

In Light on Yoga (p.493) – BKS Iyengar recommends the following short sequence to help recover from a cold:

1.  Sirsasana (headstand)

2.  Sarvangasana (shoulderstand)

3.  Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

4.  Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)

5.  Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana (advanced tortoise pose)

6.  Yoganidrasana

7.  Uijayi Pranayama (breathing exercise)

While the inversions and forward bends help relieve the pressure and congestion from the head and sinuses, the breathing at the end (pranayama) helps to reduce stress in the mind and body – which can be a trigger for illnesses like colds and flu.

Here are a few other tips to help manage a cold or flu:

·      Wrap your forehead and eyes with a bandage to relieve tension in the head and sinuses when practicing yoga (this is also great for when you’re generally feeling fatigued or stressed!)

·      Also try the yoga practice for colds in Yoga – the path to holistic health (p.276) - including restorative supine poses like Supta Baddhakonasana, Supta Virasana, Viparita Dandasana and Setubandha Sarvangasana that open and lift the chest.

·      Slow down and take care of yourself! Getting sick can be the body’s way of telling you something isn’t working – pay attention, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and eat lots fresh, healthy food.

Did you know, as a child, BKS Iyengar suffered frequent bouts of malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis? At age 14, he went to live with his brother in law in Bangalore and began practicing yoga as a way to help improve his health. He went on to live a long and healthy life, practicing yoga every day right up until he passed away at the age of 95! “Health is not a commodity to be bargained for. It has to be earned…” he said.

Download the infographic Here and send us your yoga questions, tips and photos. Email or message and tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

For more information about yoga for colds we recommend the following resources.

Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar p. 493 BUY
Yoga The Path To Holistic Health, BKS Iyengar p. 276 BUY
Important note: Remember to always seek the guidance of an experienced and certified yoga teacher, and check with your medical professional if you have any health concerns.


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