I am often asked if it is appropriate to practice yoga when sick with a cold or some sort of energy-zapping bug. Some experts are convinced that rest is the best medicine when not feeling well, but practicing a little bit of yoga when you are sick can be beneficial.
The following is an explanation of why yoga can help restore your health while you are fighting an illness.
Yoga stimulates the immune system by flushing swollen lymph nodes and circulating white blood cells throughout the body. Gentle inversions such as downward dog help to create a small amount of pressure on the lymphatic system so fluids can flow freely and help the body fight infection.
The key point to remember is that too much yoga is not going to be beneficial. The body uses a lot of energy when it is sick, and stealing some of that energy so you can do a full yoga practice is not advised. Practice just a few poses, and make sure you have a lot of time to rest in between each pose. If your body is telling you to stop, honor its request and take a break.
Feeling good physically is closely related to feeling good mentally and emotionally. Yoga helps both the mind and the body perk up and be cheerful. If feeling sick has snatched up your positive outlook, yoga poses that do not require a lot of energy, such as mountain pose or a seated spinal twist, are good choices to boost your mood. Just be sure and take it slow, because when you are sick a little bit will go a long way.
Toxins in the form of pathogens, a.k.a. germs, make us sick. It is up to our circulatory, excretory, and integumentary systems to help rid the body of these toxins. If our heart, kidneys, and sweat glands are doing their job, we can kick out these germs in no time.
Yoga stimulates all of the body’s systems. Rhythmic breathing, along with gentle movement, flushes our organs with oxygenated blood and nutrients. Stagnation only serves to delay the onset of healing, which is why it is important to keep the body moving and the body’s systems actively working.
As always, trust that your body knows best. Practice a few key poses with caution to stimulate your body, not to annihilate your health.