Sequence for Cold and Sinus Infection Season

by Baxter 

Well, it has started again—with the arrival of Fall, my yoga students are sneezing, sniffling, and coughing in class. It’s a clear reminder that we are heading into cold, flu and sinus infection season. Can yoga help with this? In the past, we have provided information on how yoga can help support good immune function, especially as a preventative tool (see How Yoga Helps Your Immune System ) But what can you do when you actually still get sick? 

To begin, I recommend that if you are at the start of any one of these acute infections—which is usually the time you are most contagious— that you consider skipping your public classes for the next week, both to give yourself the rest and attention you will need to recover more quickly and to spare spreading what you’ve got to your fellow yoga-loving class members.

But if you still have the desire to do some sort of practice at home while recovering from these seasonal intruders, I generally recommend a gentle practice, with slow, easy dynamic sequences and short static holds in the sitting and standing poses (if you have the energy for standing poses) and with restorative postures that keep the chest and head a little elevated to avoid worsening nasal congestion and sinus pressure. If you have a fever, skip practice altogether until you back to normal temps. Here is a practice for you to try out, subtracting any poses that seem too taxing as you see fit. 

1. Grounding Meditation
Set up in Easy Sitting Pose (see version 3 at Featured Pose: Easy Sitting Pose ) with your back supported by the wall. Take a moment to assess your overall energy level. Notice if your thinking in clear or clouded. Notice if you can breathe through your nose or if you have to breathe though your mouth. These observations can help guide how you practice today. Set an intention for both honoring where you are at today and for healing.

2. Seated Warm-Up
My short seated warm-up sequence (see Seated Warm-Up ) is a great option to start your practice with gentle movement. Since you have already done your centering at the wall, you can skip the Hero pose that starts the sequence and begin with the Seated Cat-Cow pose. You can also leave off the last pose, Boat Pose, if it feels to strenuous on any given day. 

3. Mountain Pose, a few breaths

From sitting, come up to standing and hold Mountain pose (see
Featured Pose: Mountain Pose) for a few breaths to see how standing feels today. If you are feeling like you have adequate energy, move on to the other standing poses in the sequence. If not, skip them and move on to Restorative Childs pose.

3. Dynamic Crescent Moon Pose, 3-6 times, side to side

The side bending in this pose is good for releasing tightness in the sides of the chest muscles that you use for breathing and coughing. See this video for instructions. Move as slowly as you want as you move into and out of this pose. 

4. Half Downward-Facing Dog at the Wall, version 3 or 4, 15-60 seconds 
This pose also releases tightness in the sides of the chest muscles that you use for breathing and coughing. But be sure to practice either of the two versions of Half Downward-Facing dog Pose where your torso and arms are higher up to avoid any partial inversion that could increase sinus pressure and congestion. See Featured Pose: Half Downward-Facing Dog Pose for instructions. Hold the pose from 15-60 seconds, depending on your energy level. 

5. Dynamic Warrior 1, 6 rounds
This is a good pose to help open up chest and shoulders. See this video for instructions Practice 6 rounds on each side or less if you are feeling tired.

6. Restorative Child’s Pose, Supported Version with Block, 2-5 minutes
This restorative pose (see version 2 at Featured Pose: Child's Pose ) is always great resting position, but for this sequence you should add a block under the far end of the bolster, so the bolster is slanted. The block at the far end (under where your head will rest on the bolster) keeps the head higher than heart, which can be helpful for those with head congestion. If nasal congestion or sinus pressure still makes breathing uncomfortable, experiment by turning your head to each side for a breath or two. 

7. Reclined Cobbler’s Pose, Restorative Version, up to 10 minutes
This restorative pose (see Featured Pose: Reclined Cobbler's Pose) is deeply restful. So, I recommend you stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes, but you can also stay longer if desired. However, I’d set an alarm to make sure you don’t fall asleep for too long. 

While in the pose, for the first few minutes, you can practice mental alternate nostril breathing (see Breath Practices for Balance) and then practice simple breath awareness or you simply 

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