Something we’ve probably all wondered at some point—should we roll out our yoga mats when we’re feeling under the weather? It’s a common dilemma, and finding the right answer often involves tuning into our bodies and being kind to ourselves (isn’t this basically the answer for everything?).

Firstly, when it comes to practicing yoga during illness, when you’re sick, or you have a cold, it’s crucial to listen to your body. The renowned practice of yoga is typically associated with vitality and well-being, but pushing yourself too hard when you’re unwell might not be the wisest choice.

When to avoid practicing yoga

Exercise is actually a stressful thing to put our bodies through. It might not feel like it at the time, it’s good for us, after all. But this is where stress gets a bad rep; not all stress is a bad thing (it’s usually the chronic, too-much too-often kind of stress that causes issues). This, of course, affects your body’s immune system, but it usually recovers in a few hours when you’re healthy and can lead to a bigger, stronger immunity overall.

When your immune system is already battling a virus (like the common cold), though, it’s probably a bad idea to add another stressor (i.e. exercise and physical yoga) into the mix. And, hopefully this goes without saying, but staying home and avoiding spreading your viral or bacterial infection to others is imperative. In other words: online (restful) yoga is your best friend.

How to bounce back from illness with yoga

Restorative yoga will be your best friend here. Not only are you feeling rubbish when you’re ill, but being run-down negatively impacts your sleep and most-likely your hydration and eating habits, too. Turning to restorative classes and poses, like child’s pose or gentle stretches, can do wonders for your body and mind without overexerting you like a vinyasa class can. These poses provide a nurturing environment for your immune system to do its magic while allowing you to maintain a connection with your practice. Remember, it’s always okay to modify your routine to suit your current state of health. This is self-care at it’s core.

Another aspect of the yoga practice to consider: breath-work; tuning into your breath can be a game-changer. Breathing exercises, or pranayama, can help alleviate congestion, calm your nervous system, and boost your energy levels. Try incorporating deep, intentional breaths into your practice, focusing on the inhales and exhales that resonate with your body’s needs.

The takeaway

In essence, the decision to practice yoga during illness is a personal one. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s totally okay to adapt your practice to meet your current health needs, whether you’re sick or otherwise. Ask yourself: how am I feeling right now? Do I actually need to practice? Or can I rest, heal, and give my body the time to repair and fully heal?

Listen to your body, embrace restorative poses, and breathe into the healing process. After all, yoga is about self-care and self-awareness—two things that should always take precedence on your wellness journey.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 24/11/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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