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International Yoga Day 2021: Effective Yoga Asanas And Poses For Cold And Flu

Every year since 2015, International Yoga Day has been celebrated on 21 June. The benefits of yoga are well known. Studies say that yoga can help in stress management, prevent chronic diseases and boost immune functions Yoga has also helped many fight social isolation and depression, stay healthy and fight the fears and anxiety of the pandemic.

Talking about the recent COVID-19 pandemic, cold and flu are considered to be its early-stage symptoms. This viral infection is known to get severe in a short span of time and without effective treatment, the virus may manifest and affect the respiratory defence mechanisms in most people. [1]

Though yoga is not considered a top priority method to control or treat cold and flu, it is an important and cost-effective preventive strategy that can help boost the immune system, improve lung functions and prevent the occurrence of cold and flu complications in the long run.

In this article, we will discuss some of the effective yoga poses to prevent or manage cold and flu. Take a look.

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1. Kapalbhati

Kapalbhati is a rapid breathing pranayama to combat many ailments, including cold and flu. According to a study, breathing exercises like kapalbhati can help manage some respiratory conditions, clear the lungs of sticky mucus, improve blood circulation and promote breathing. [2]

How to do: Sit with eyes closed and relax. Inhale deeply through both the nostrils and expand the chest. Now expel the air with forceful contractions of the stomach muscles and relax. Do not strain. Continue forceful exhalation and passive inhalation up to 30 rapid breaths. Then, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This is one round of Kapalabhati. Repeat the process 2-3 rounds a day followed by deep breathing.

2. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)

Viparita means "inverted" and Karani means "in action''. Therefore, this asana is an inverted body pose where we put our legs up supported by a wall and pelvis elevated on a folded blanket to allow body fluids to flow to lower body areas. In cold and flu, this yoga helps improve breathing, reverse energy flow to the body by increasing blood circulation and reduce stress due to illness.

How to do: Place a folded blanket under the hips and rest the back of your legs against the wall to form an L-shape. You can take another blanket to cushion the natural curve of the neck. Stay still in the position for a while (around 15-20 minutes). Bend your knees as per your comfortability. To release the pose, gently push yourself away from the wall and relax on your back for a few minutes. Again, slowly go back to the position and perform the yoga 1-2 times more. [3]

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3. Salamba Setu Bandhasana( Supported Bridge Pose)

This yoga pose helps stretch the chest, stimulate the lungs and improve blood circulation, thus promoting clearing of the respiratory tract and blocked nose. Supported bridge pose also helps improve respiration by opening up the chest and treating sore throat. The pose requires very less energy to perform and can easily be carried out when you're sick to improve your symptoms.

How to do: Lay with your back and keep a block on your side. Bend the knees and bring the feet close to the hips. The toes should point directly forward. Press the feet down and lift the hips up off the ground. Then, place the block firmly under your tailbone to support the hips. You can place the block lengthwise or widthwise as per your comfortability. As you are weak during cold or flu, you can opt for widthwise.

After placing the block, lift the chest slightly. Remember to not rest the upper body on the neck, but on your shoulders. Look at the ceiling and avoid moving the head. Relax and take at least 10 deep breaths. To release the pose, lower down the chest, firmly remove the block and lower down the hips on the floor. Take a few deep breaths to relax and again move back to the position.

4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing technique)

This yoga asana is a potent breathing technique that may help open up blocked noses and promote airflow in and out the lungs. Nadi shodhan is quite similar to Anulom Vilom, considering, in the latter, one does not need to hold the breath while in the prior, one needs to hold the breath for as long as possible. [4]

How to do: Sit comfortably with shoulders relaxed and spine erect. Place the tip of the index and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows. Place the ring and small finger on the left nostril to open and close it, while putting the thumb on the right nostril for the same.

Now breathe in with the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with the thumb. Now, close the left nostril with the index and middle finger and hold your breath for as long as possible. Then allow the air to breathe out from the right. Now reverse the process by breathing in from the right and breathing out from the left. This is one round of Nadi yoga. Perform it 10 times keeping the eyes closed and continue taking deep long breaths.

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5. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Butterfly Pose)

This yoga gives benefits to individuals who have a cold and are unable to breathe from their nose. Supta Baddha yoga is a restorative yoga that may help with a sore throat, stuffy nose, body ache, cough and chest congestion. It is easy to do and can help ease the aforementioned symptoms, thus treating the uneasiness during the illness. [5]

How to do: Sit on the mat with legs extended. Bring the soles of the feet together to form a diamond shape with the legs. Then lie on the floor. Put the hands on the stomach or in a straight relaxing position. Take 5-10 deep breaths. To release, use your hands and roll onto the right side. Relax in the position for a few minutes before going back to the position.

You can also do that by using a supporter. Instead of fully laying back, you can place a stack of pillows behind your back so that they run along the length of the spine. The pillows should mimic a slide where the head is placed higher than the hips. To do this, you can place two blocks and then the pillows and then your spine over it.

To Conclude

The aforementioned yoga poses are easy to perform and could help relieve some of the symptoms of cold and flu. However, they should not be considered as the foremost way to get rid of the illness and must be carried out following medications. It is always good to ask a medical expert about performing these yoga poses depending on your pre-existing medical conditions and the severity of the cold and flu.