It seems as if cold and flu season is packing an extra punch this winter. But did you know that yoga can help you fend off these illnesses?
Yoga can help protect you from marauding viral invaders like cold and flu germs because it:
- Detoxifies and oxygenates your system
- Balances the hormones you need for a strong immune system
- Reduces stress and fatigue, two precursors to lowered immunity
- Triggers acupressure points said to help evict viruses and bacteria from your body
Add these yoga poses to your regular routine and say, “Good riddance, sniffles!”
Pre-yoga immune booster: Elegant Mansion and Thymus Reset
I know I said “three” poses, but here’s a bonus round for you. They aren’t technically yoga poses, but I often teach them in classes due to their awesome ability to prime the body for immune boosting and reset your energy in just a few seconds.
First, with your fingers, press for one minute in the indent just below your collarbones, about an inch to the sides of your breastbone. This spot is known in acupressure as the Elegant Mansion. Not only do I feel more fabulous by association, but this point is said to help boost immunity as it balances the thymus gland, master of the hormones and defender against sickness and disease. A happy byproduct is that anxiety and stress dissipate as you move into the Mansion.
Then, move to the Thymus Reset. This is like flipping a breaker off and on again and is said to balance the thymus and the central channel of healing prana, or chi (energy), it represents.
- Make a fist and place your pinky finger side on your breastbone, just below the notch between the collarbones.
- Take a deep breath, and as you slowly let it out, firmly pound on this spot 9 times or so.
- Repeat 1-3 times, until you feel more balanced and calm.
Come into Chair Pose, or Fierce Pose, with your knees bent, feet together.
Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and twist to the right, hooking the left elbow on or around the right knee. Press your palms together and roll the top shoulder onto your back. Keep your knees even, navel drawn in, especially on the exhales.
You’re connecting to the Sea of Energy here, two finger-widths below the navel. When this is stimulated, your digestive system is said to benefit, along with giving you a more awake, energized body.
Take 5-10 breaths on this side, then either forward fold in-between with bent knees and relax like a rag doll, or move directly to the opposite side.
When you invert, as you’ll be doing here, it provides you with a full body cleanse, assisting your lypmhatic system to sweep out those pesky toxins. If you really firm your fingertips into the floor and hug arm muscles to the bones, you’ll activate the points all along the hands and arms that are thought to help boost immunity and release pain and joint compression.
Come into Downward Dog, facing away from the wall. With squared hips (watch that the top hip and leg don’t roll open), lift your right leg up the wall, foot flexed.
As you lift the leg higher, walk your hands back until you feel a stretch in the legs, and a fiery strength in the arms. Widen and drop your shoulders, and relax your head. If you want a deeper stretch, bend your elbows back towards the wall.
Breathe here for 5-10 breaths on each side; rest in Child’s Pose in-between.
This posture is not only great for opening the heart, it also presses directly on two main acupressure points. You’ll get the Sea of Vitality in the lower back, two inches away from the spine, and importantly, the Bearing Support, on the shoulder blades, two inches off the spine. This point is said to help govern immunity, especially to colds and flu.
So you’ll remain here a bit longer, aim for one minute or more. If this is hard for you, place a high block or two under your hips.
Come onto your back. Bend both knees and place your feet under your knees, hip-distance and parallel. Plant your hands by your hips and curling your tailbone up to engage the navel, lift your hips high.
Work your shoulder blades underneath you so they’re flat on the floor, and if possible, reach for your outer ankles. Note: Do not bind the hands under your body as in regular Bridge Pose; this can lift you onto your arm muscles, and off of your shoulder blades. We want to focus the pressure points there, and into the low back. Lift your chin and arch your neck just enough so you could slip a hand between the back neck curve and the floor.
Stay here, breathing into the shoulder blades for one minute or more, then come down and gently circle your knees into your chest. Continue on with your regular practice, or roll to one side, come up, and have a healthy, happy day!