If you’re feeling under the weather, it’s usually a good idea to avoid strenuous types of exercise like running, heavy resistance training, and high-impact aerobics. But, what about gentler forms of exercise like yoga?
While there are times when you might want to skip your regular yoga practice, there are also a lot of poses that can provide relief from your symptoms and speed up the recovery process. Four of the best ones are explained below.
Should You Even Practice Yoga When You are Sick?
When you should practice yoga and when you should take a total rest day?
The basic guidelines for determining whether or not you should practice are basically the same that you’d follow for any other form of exercise — if your symptoms are “above the neck,” you’re usually fine to practice. If they’re “below the neck,” you’ll probably want to take a break or stick to extremely restorative poses.
Above the neck symptoms include:
- Stuffy/runny nose
- Dry cough
- Scratchy throat
Below the neck symptoms include:
- Congestion in the lungs or chest
- Body aches
- Digestive issues (vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, etc.)
It’s also important to avoid any kind of strenuous practice when you have a fever. You’re more prone to dehydration when experiencing a fever, so it’s not a good idea to try and “sweat it out” with yoga or another workout.
Not sure if you have a fever? An oral thermometer is easily accessible and provides a non-invasive way of measuring one’s temperature. You can also look for other physical symptoms, including sweating, chills, muscle aches, a loss of appetite, and a general feeling of weakness.
Best Yoga Poses for to do when you’re sick
All that being said, if you do decide to practice yoga while you’re feeling under the weather, these four poses are great ones to add to your routine.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is a great pose to do if you’re dealing with symptoms like sinus congestion or a headache. Because it’s a gentle inversion, downward facing dog helps drain the sinus passages while also promoting blood flow to the brain.
To do this pose, start by kneeling on all fours. Walk your feet back behind you so your legs are straight and you’re in a plank position. Then, lift your hips up toward the ceiling and press your chest toward your thighs while keeping your legs and arms straight. Press your heels down toward the floor, but don’t worry if they don’t touch yet.
2. Fish Pose
Fish pose helps open up the chest and lungs to improve your breathing. It also helps fight fatigue and stress that can be brought on by illness.
Start by lying on the floor with your legs straight and feet together. Place your arms at your sides. Press into the floor with your hands, bend your elbows, and arch your back to lift your chest and torso off the floor (hips, legs, and head should all stay on the ground).
3. Seated Spinal Twist
This is a pose that activates the immune system and detoxifies the body for faster recovery.
Start sitting on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Then, bend the right knee and pull it toward the chest while keeping your back straight. Place the heel on the ground as close to the body as you can get it comfortable.
Place the right hand behind your right hip, then lift your left arm toward the ceiling as you inhale. Exhale and twist to the right, bending your left arm and resting your elbow on the outside of the right knee. Turn your head so you’re gazing behind the right shoulder.
4. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose stimulates the thymus glands, which are essential for proper immune function.
Lie flat on the back with your arms by your sides. Bend your knees and make sure your feet are flat on the floor with the heels close to the body. Press into the floor with your hands and feet to lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Avoid arching your back — instead, aim to create a straight line from your knees to your head.