Practice These 5 Yoga Poses to Relieve Cold + Flu Symptoms

It was just a sniffle. Then it seemed like allergies. But suddenly you have a runny nose . . . aaaaaaand yup, you’re sick. Big Sad Face!
It’s never great timing to be under the weather, but illness is a way your body communicates with you that it needs something. This is your life reminding you to put down the cape because you need self-care, too.
But being the Superhero that you are, wrapping yourself into a comforter like a yogi burrito might make you feel a bit stir crazy after a while.

Practice these 5 yoga poses to combat the sniffles, shift your energy and open your body up to healing:


1. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Supported Bridge will open up your back and chest in a gentle way, especially with the aid of a yoga block. This restorative pose also revitalizes tired legs and stimulates your lungs, thyroid and digestion.
Simply recline onto your back with feet planted and knees bent. Lift your hips up and place a block under your sacrum. You can adjust the block in different heights and positions based on what feels best in your body. And yes, easier said than done – but try to rest and relax for 10 breaths in this pose.

2. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

If you can’t breathe very well, the thought of forward bending with your face into your knees may not sound or feel very nice. That’s why Legs Up the Wall is a nice alternative as a restorative, stress-reducing pose. Any fluids in your legs will flow away from your feet to give them a break, and reverse blood and energy flow for increased circulation.
You’ll want a couple of blankets – one that you can fold up to place under your hips for support and one to cushion the natural curve of your neck. And, of course, a wall!
Place one folded blanket under your hips and rest the back of your legs against the wall – your back is on the floor (your body will make an L-shape). Hang out here for a while and feel free to cozy up with another blanket. This is meant to be a calming and comfortable posture. If not, try experimenting with your hips a bit further away from the wall and your legs about a foot apart as they lean against the wall. Breathe. Chillax. Repeat!


3. Camel (Ustrasana)

In addition to stretching your hip flexors and being a great heart opener, Camel Pose is also good for your circulation, nervous and endocrine systems. It’s also helpful for your lymphatic system and digestion – all important aspects to tackle when you’re sick.
The strength of this pose comes from stacking your hips above the knees and creating lots of space throughout your spine before you bend backward. Remember to send your hips forward as you drop back and to root your shins into the ground.
To make this pose more gentle, keep your palms pressing into your low back as opposed to reaching all the way back for your heels. If backbends are not a part of your practice, an easy upward dog may make more sense for you.
Fair warning: if you’re feeling a bit nauseous, you may choose to skip this pose – your liver may not be feeling up to any back bending at all! It’s ok – being sick is a great opportunity to listen to your body.

4. Plow (Halasana)

Plow is a deeply relaxing pose. It stimulates the abdominal muscles and thyroid, promotes good digestion and helps relieve stress. From lying down, extend your arms along the ground and place your hands alongside your hips. Keeping everything aligned and straight, lift the legs and hips up over your head and bring your feet down to the ground behind you with a natural point to them. Keep your back straight instead of rounded (to create an unbroken line of energy). Clasp your hands beneath your back and press them into the mat to help take pressure off your neck.
And what if your feet don’t reach the ground? Not to worry! You can use your hands to support your back and let gravity do its work! Be mindful of your breathing. Again, the point is to relax. Are you sensing a theme here? 🙂

5. Headstand (Sirsasana)

A full-blown handstand might be overdoing it if you’re not feeling well, so a headstand is a nice alternative to get fresh blood to your brain in order to aid the detoxification process and help clear your sinuses. Your lymphatic system needs movement to keep it flowing to flush toxins from the body.
Plus, inversions are great because they just make you feel revitalized afterward! There is something about being upside down for a while that encourages an energetic lift, which is super helpful when you feel icky.
It’s important to create a strong base in your arms and shoulders when setting up a headstand. Put your forearms on the ground (cup your elbows to find the right distance for shoulder alignment), interlace your fingers with palms open, and plant the crown of your head. When you’re ready, lift your legs (or tuck them into your body, if that’s less intimidating at first) and straighten them into a full headstand. Practicing against a wall will make this easier and keep you safe when you’re not feeling your best. Aim for at least 15-25 breaths, and then slowly lower. Take a Child’s Pose!
Remember – everyone gets sick sometimes. This is an opportunity to take some well-deserved rest and relaxation. It’s also a chance to practice listening to your body instead of being always on-the-go in goal-oriented mode. You get to take a break and practice receiving, so you are in a better position to give later and can come from a place of fulfillment instead of depletion! Cheers to your health and speedy recovery, friends!
Photography credit for featured image, camel pose and headstand: Nir Livni
This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health-related questions or concerns.

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Christie Cole

A published poet, Christie works in TV production by day and moonlights as editor of She practices ashtanga, Nichiren Buddhism and is completely smitten with the flying trapeze. She also enjoys tooling around on her motorcycle. Her hope is simply to bring joy to every life she meets.

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