What is yoga?
A natural immunity booster
Here in Ibiza we’re in the thick of cold and flu season, as is most of the northern hemisphere. Wherever you go, there’s usually someone sniffling or coughing in the same room – it’s almost enough to make you want to wear a medical face mask in public to make sure you don’t end up sick yourself! While many students will notice a positive difference in their immune system after taking up regular practice, the question remains: How sick is too sick to practice?
As a general rule, if you can breathe (without difficulty), you can do yoga. If you can get yourself to work, you can also make it to your mat. This means if you’re feeling clogged up, stuffed up, or full of cold, you’ll be fine to practice – but always listen to your body. Practice with awareness, be in control of your body and mind, don’t push yourself too hard – remember you’re not in competition with anyone – and stay hydrated throughout the class. A gentle practice can speed up your recovery process, energise you and even boost your spirits.
If you want to come to practice but are worried your sinuses are too congested, try a Neti salt water cleanse before coming to class. This ancient yogic nasal cleansing technique involves pouring the lukewarm salt water into one nostril and letting it come out the other to completely clear your nasal passageways – repeated on both sides. Watch Hot Yoga Ibiza founder Sebastien Carincotte perform a Neti cleanse here. And then be sure to bring some tissue into class… just in case you need them in downward dog!
On the other hand, that old adage ‘sweat out the toxins’ isn’t always advisable, especially when you have intense flu that causes the body to shiver and the muscles to ache, a fever or any illness that originates in the lungs. These are acceptable reasons to skip practice. Teeth infections too, are cause to stay home. Pushing your body beyond its limits when it is in a fragile state can (at times) make you feel worse and prolong your illness. It can also further dehydrate you when you are in need of extra fluids and tire you out while your body is craving rest.
It goes without saying, if your sickness is contagious, use your common sense and be mindful of your teacher and fellow yogis and stay at home. But just because you can’t make it to the studio doesn’t mean you need to miss practice. Why not try a meditation, some simple breathwork and gentle stretching to keep your body supple and immune system supported? It’s even been proven that the vibration of a basic ‘om’ chant can open the sinuses and facilitate drainage, so even if you can’t get out of bed there are still small things you can do to speed up your recovery.
The fact is, yoga is a natural immunity booster. The more you practice, the healthier you will become and the less likely you are to be sick. During the practice, your breath stimulates your circulation, delivering fresh oxygen to your blood and brain to keep your vital organs stimulated and free of toxins. Practicing helps maintain your respiratory system and stimulates the lymphatic system to prevent and fight infections such as the common cold. Yoga promotes healthy and strong muscles and joints, which help prevent chills, aches and pains in colder weather. Working from the inside out on your central nervous system, yoga generates good health and overall wellness.
And it’s never too late to start. Forget stocking up on cold and flu remedies in the pharmacy this winter and come and join us for class instead!