Cold Remedies for the Aching Body

As I sit here, nursing a cold, I feel inspired to share with you a few of the remedies that have helped me over the years to alleviate cold and sinus symptoms.

If we choose not to honor our bodies, these small signals for rest can escalate into bigger problems such as flu, pneumonia, and even exhaustion.  Once your body gives you the first sign to stop, try some of these restorative poses and home remedies to keep your immune system healthy.

Restorative Postures

Supta Badakonasana – Supported.

This supported variation is nice because it opens up the chest while keep the head resting above the heart.

To practice:

  • Place one block underneath the lowest ribs (width wise) so it supports the rib cage (not lower back), and one block upright to support the back of the head.  If the blocks feel like too much, then you can use a bolster and set of stacked blankets to the degree of your comfort level.
  • Bring the soles of your feet together or extend them out forward
  • Rest here for 5-10 minutes taking deep breaths

Cat / Cow

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Moving in and out of cat / cow helps to stretch tight muscles surrounding the lungs.  If you find yourself coughing or sneezing, this movement will help to alleviate strain around the neck and upper back.

To practice:

  • Come to your hands and knees, stacking the shoulders above the wrists and hips above the knees
  • On an inhale, reach the sternum (top of the chest) through the gateway of the arms resulting in a small arch in the upper back.
  • On an exhale, press the palms into the floor and round your upper back (like a scared cat :))
  • Repeat for as many rounds as you like.

Anjanasana to Crescent twist 

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This might be a little aggressive if you’re having pretty strong symptoms.  If you feel able enough to squeeze yourself into a twist, it helps to alleviate pressure along the spine.

To practice:

  • Come into a low lunge with the back knee on the floor, be sure to rest on the top part of the knee and pad it if you have sensitivity.
  • Reach the arms up overhead (I like to hook my thumbs and spread the fingers wide), engage the lower abdominal muscles to protect the lower back
  • Lift the sternum up and back, so you create a nice even arc across the spine
  • To enter into the twist, bring the opposing hand of the front knee down to the ground, in line with the front foot.  Straighten the back leg and lift the other arm towards the sky.  Keep the low belly drawing in to encourage a deeper twist in the upper, thorasic spine.
  • Variation 2 is prayer twist, bring the palms of the hands together at the chest center and cross the opposing elbow over the thigh.  The back knee can be up or lowered depending on your preference.
  • Hold each pose for a few breaths and perhaps take a childs pose to rest in between.

Bow Pose

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One of my favorite poses for cold / flu season.  It is a backbend where the head rests above the heart, so you can open up the chest without any additional pressure to the sinus’.  When you’re not feeling well, it is best to keep circulation flowing away from the inflammation.

To practice:

  • Lie on your belly
  • Bend both knees
  • Reach back and grab the ankles, flex the feet
  • Keep the inner knees together and on an exhale press the ankles in the palms of the hands to lift your chest off the floor.  Your thighs will most likely stay connected to the floor unless you’re very limber in your upper back.
  • Hold for a few breaths, softly release, and rest.

Thread the Needle / Pigeon Pose

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A modified version of Pigeon Pose is Thread the Needle, or resting Pigeon.  It is a great way to open up the hips with little to no impact on the knees.  If you have the mobility in the hips then take full pigeon with the front foot flexed, to protect the integrity of the knee, and square the hips, perhaps with the assistance of a blanket underneath the externally rotated hip.  Hip stretches help to release pressure in the lower back.

To practice:

  • Lay on your back with the legs extended forward
  • Cross one ankle over the opposing thigh (so you create the #4 in your legs)
  • Draw the entended legs knee into the chest (keeping the knee over the corresponding shoulder)
  • Flex the ankles, relax the shoulders.  If your head lifts off the ground place a blanket or pillow under the head to relieve tension in the neck.
  • Hold for a few breaths.

Supine twist

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Very gentle way to unwind and enjoy the benefits of rotating the spine.

To practice:

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended forward
  • Draw one knee in towards your chest
  • Cross the knee to the opposite side of the body while keeping both shoulder blades connected to the floor.
  • Take deep breaths for as long as you choose to hold.

Viparita Karani – Legs up the wall

A must do inversion that not only decreases swelling in the legs, but also helps to boost your immune system and initiate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/relaxation response).

To practice:

  • Lay a bolster, folded blanket, or one of your couch cushions 🙂 against a wall
  • Rest the pelvis on the chosen prop and run your legs up the wall.  You may need to bring the prop a little further away from the wall if you’re a little tighter in the hamstrings so the legs rest at an angle.
  • I suggest staying in the pose for 10-20 minutes to receive it’s full benefits.  I like to place a strap around my legs to keep the thighs rotating inward and femur bones descending into the hip socket.

Vitamins and Elixirs

There are some wonderful herbal remedies proven to help fight off cold, flu and sinus symptoms

  • Neti Pot – this is a game changer.  It drys out all of the excess fluid in the nostrils so you can breath through the nasal cavity.  I recommend 1-2x/day when you’re feeling congested.  Be sure to use clean, distilled, previously boiled water.  Because the neti pot can also get rid of beneficial bacteria in the sinus’ present to help fight off the infection, I would recommended stopping use after you’re starting to feel better.
  • Lemon, Cayenne, Tumeric, Ginger, Agave – this little elixir has cancer fighting ingredients that when combined together help to boost immunity, reduce inflammation and fight symptoms of the common cold.  Cayenne is anti-bacterial, lemon has natural vitamin-c, tumeric is anti-inflammatory, ginger is an antioxidant, and agave helps to soothe the throat.  You can blend these together with apples and other veggies or place them into hot water to make tea.
  • Oregano Oil – it is antibacterial but you want to be careful not to overdo it on this one.  Take in small doses (1-2 drops for every 8 ounces of water) and gargle with warm water.  You can even gargle with a bit of sea salt if you feel a sore throat coming on.  Since it is very potent, you can also take capsules found at your local Whole Foods or Sprouts.  I like Irwin Naturals Immuno-Shield personally as it has Oregano and a bunch of other vitamins and herbs to support your body’s natural defense system.
  • Oscillococcinum – it’s a wonderful, herbal, natural remedy that does not interfere with any other medications.  It simply works with your bodies natural response system to help fight symptoms such as cold, flu, fatigue, fever and chills.  Take every 4 hours until symptoms subside.  They also have one just for Sinus that is very effective.
  • Vitamin C & Zinc – I am a big believer that this should be in every persons diet on a daily basis.  Keep up that Vitamin C & Zinc!  You can find them in many colorful packets but my favorite is in Ola Loa.  It has a lot of other added vitamins to help boost your immune system and give you some much needed electrolytes.

And of course, plenty of rest.  Please stay home and get some sleep.  Sweating it out can do more harm then good.  Once you’re feeling any fever or symptoms have subsided then yes, go get your work out on.  But until then wait for your body to do what mother nature intended it to do, heal.

Love and Health,

Ali

 


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