You know when you're so sick that you can barely breathe, and you essentially turn into a walking tissue box so you can catch the super sexy stream of snot perpetually dripping out of your nose? Same. When a head cold hits you like a ton of bricks, it's only natural to look for anything that'll make you feel even a tiny bit better. And personally, as a yogi, I constantly ask myself if yoga can help a cold because, let's be real, sometimes over the counter remedies simply don't cut it. But is it better to let your body rest and recharge when you're under the weather? Or can yoga soothe your sniffles in a gentle way?
"Yoga provides you with powerful means to help you prevent and heal colds," Veronica Parker, a kundalini yoga teacher and meditation coach, tells Elite Daily over email. According to Parker, yoga can strengthen the immune system by triggering your body to activate its lymphatic system, which helps to remove viruses and bacteria. And when coupled with meditation, says Sara DiVello, a nationally recognized yoga and meditation teacher and author of the book Where in the OM Am I?, the practice's power exponentially increases.
"There has been some research showing that meditation boosts immunity and I'd love to see more," DiVello tells Elite Daily over email. "But overall, the research that has been done indicates that when you're more relaxed, your body's ability to be well and fight off colds is better."
Regardless of whether yoga and meditation have any physical immune-boosting effects on the body, DiVello tells me that, as a teacher of 10 years, she believes one of the primary benefits of yoga is that it brings you into a deeper connection with your body. And in this state of connectedness, she explains, you'll intuitively know whether it's better for your body to rest, or to gently flow through a few poses to help soothe some of the symptoms of your cold.
That being said, Parker tells me it's ultimately best to practice yoga before you get sick, to prevent an illness. And both Parker and DiVello agree that, if you already have a cold, flu, or sinus infection, it's always a good idea to listen to your body, and allow it to guide you toward whatever feels right for you in that moment.
"What is your body telling you? Are you depleted and exhausted? Do you need to rest? Would it feel better to get the juices moving and help the cold disappear? Everything you need is already within, and your body has infinite wisdom not just to guide you to what is best, but to actually heal itself," Parker explains.
If you do choose to move your body a little, consider inverting in a shoulder stand or headstand to help move the fluid in your infection-fighting lymphatic system throughout the rest of your body, Parker suggests.
But remember, if you'd rather rest, that's completely OK. "One of my favorite benefits [of yoga] is that I'm really in touch with the messages my body sends me, and then it becomes a practice of listening and honoring those messages instead of getting caught up in I think or I should," DiVello says.
There is no "should" when it comes to yoga, DiVello tells Elite Daily. Rather, it's just a matter of being present, and simply honoring the idea that whatever will be, will be. That being said, when you're feeling run-down or under the weather, a long, juicy, restorative savasana might be exactly what serves you best.