As we come into the deep winter months in the UK, this change in season can sometimes leave us feeling a little drained and tired. This can lower our immune system and digestion, making us more prone to illness during the colder months. I’ve complied 5 tips we can take from yoga to help us boost our energy, mood and combat those pesky colds and flu!
1. Breathe! Breathing deeply, taking in fuller inhales, down into the belly; imagine as you breathe in, you are filling up the belly like a balloon, as you exhale, pull the belly button back towards to the spine and empty the lungs out completely. Repeat 3 times, this will rid the lungs of stale air and increase the intake of oxygen to the blood and improve the efficiency of the lungs.
Breath of Fire is another breathing technique that can be used to create heat within the body and boost energy for a quick pick me up. It’s also good for clearing the sinuses and massaging the digestive organs.
Sitting in a comfortable position, relax the hands on the thighs and close the eyes. Exhale shortly and sharply out of the nose, drawing the belly button back towards the spine, as you inhale release the belly button. Focus on the exhales, which will allow the inhales to happen naturally. Do this at speed which will pump the belly. Start off with 3 rounds of thirty seconds and build up over time to maybe going for 3 minutes. This is not recommended during pregnancy.
2. Do the twist. Poses which include twisting the spine is a great way to wring out any tension held in the back, but is also an effective way to improve digestion, by compressing the stomach and internal organs, it gently gives them a massage. This will get any toxins held in the digestive tract moving, which might have otherwise lead to illness or infection.
3. Invert. Any poses which bring our legs higher than our head such as headstand, shoulder stand, legs-up-the-wall or on a block help with blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system filters toxins from the blood and transports infection-fighting, white blood cells throughout the body to fight off illness. Take as long as feels good to you in any inversion and try to incorporate it into your daily routine.
4. Bend backwards. In the colder weather it’s tempting to curl up, however back bends can be really invigorating as we open up the whole front side of the body and excite the nervous system. During back bends we also stimulate the thymus, an organ located behind the sternum, this organ is responsible for the growth of T-cells, which help fight off foreign invaders, such as colds and flu.
A heart opening ,back bend in the morning can really awaken the body and help boost your mood ready to take on the day.
5. Meditate. When we focus the mind in meditation, we remove ourselves from daily stresses that can take there toll on the body and mind. Medical studies have shown that yoga and meditation can help build antibodies, the body’s natural defence against bacteria and viruses. By lowering stress levels through meditation we decrease the amount of Cortisol in the body (this stress hormone contributes to lower immunity, depression, cholesterol, weight gain, just to name a few). Take a few minutes out each day to calm the mind and boost your mood.