I was run over by a steamroller Tuesday night and the thing kept on rolling over me until I emerged from my steamroller massage, early this morning. I don’t think I have ever slept 24 hours before. A new record for even me who loves sleep. I am completely befuddled why I got sick as my immune system I thought was top notch, no big stresses in my life, eating real healthy and getting plenty of sleep. Well I do know that the sleep helped and I bet a few restoratives will put me back in some type of equilibrium boosting my immune system as well.
Enjoy the restorative and immunity-boosting poses and an Extended Exhalation here and there. (YogaJournal http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2695). Please do not attempt Headstand, Shoulderstand or Plow if they are not already in your practice. For a Supported Shoulderstand, place a block under your hips and raise the legs up in the air to drain (can come into this from Supported Bridge pose).
If you’d just as soon skip winter’s colds and flu this year, you may want to spend more time on your mat. Tias Little, director of Prajna Yoga, believes a practice that includes supported and inverted poses, like the one you’ll find on the next two pages, increases circulation of lymph—a clear, watery fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes.
Unlike blood, which moves as a result of the heart pumping, lymph moves by muscular contractions. Physical exercise, such as yoga, is key for keeping lymph flowing. The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so anytime your head is below your heart—for example, in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)—lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you return to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph, sending it through your lymph nodes for cleansing.
In each pose, Little recommends resting your head on a support to allow your neck, throat, and tongue to relax fully, thereby encouraging the lymph to flow freely through the nose and throat. Hold each pose for two to five minutes, breathing deeply from your diaphragm for the entire time. Don’t wait until the first sign of sniffles to attempt this practice—by that point inversions could agitate both body and mind. Instead, use this sequence to build up your immunity throughout the winter and keep common colds at bay.
Before You Begin
Breath Take a comfortable seated position, close your eyes, and breathe, focusing on lengthening the duration of both the inhalation and the exhalation over time. Visualize the skin around the throat, jaw, and mouth softening.
Salute Practice 3 to 5 rounds of the Sun Salutation of your choice.
|1 Balasana (Child’s Pose), supportedBegin by sitting on your feet, with your knees separated and your big toes touching. With your eyes closed, fold your torso forward, letting your forehead rest on the floor or on a support such as a bolster, blanket, or block so your head and neck can rest more fully. Place your arms on the floor in front of you, allowing the elbows to bend out to the sides.|
|2 Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), supportedFrom Balasana, press your hands into the floor, tuck your toes under, and lift your hips up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Rest your head on a support. Extend through your inner arms while pressing the tops of your thighbones firmly back and away from your face.|
|3 Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)From Adho Mukha Svanasana, walk your feet until they are in line with your hands and come up to standing, maintaining a flat back. Bring your feet about 4 feet apart and fold your torso forward, resting your head on the floor or on a support. Place your hands on the floor to the inside of your feet.|
|4 Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), supportedFrom Prasarita Padottanasana, place your hands on your hips and, maintaining a flat back, come up to standing. Bring your feet hip-width apart and on an exhalation, fold forward, resting your head on a support. Clasp the back of your heels with your hands, gently bringing your torso toward your legs.|
|5 Sirsasana (Headstand)Editor’s note: If you’ve never attempted Headstand before, do so with the aid of an experienced teacher. Performing the pose incorrectly can put your neck at risk.
Release Uttanasana and come down to your hands and knees. Interlock your fingers and place your outer forearms against the floor. Tuck your chin and place the back of your head in the cup made by your hands. Straighten your legs, coming up onto the crown of your head. Lift your legs overhead to vertical. For additional support, rest your knuckles against the baseboard of the wall and kick up onto the wall. Rest in Balasana after coming down.
|6 Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), supportedLie on your back with your shoulders on the folded edge of one or more blankets. The shoulders are supported by the blanket, and your head, but not your neck, rests on the ground. Lift your legs to vertical, supporting your midback with your hands and keeping your upper arms and elbows parallel to each other.|
|7 Halasana (Plow Pose), supportedFrom Sarvangasana, lower your legs over your head until your tucked toes touch the ground. Interlock your hands behind your back, straighten your arms, and powerfully press them into the floor. Engage your quadriceps to press your femur bones up and away from your face. To come out of the pose, separate your hands and slowly roll down out of the pose while maintaining full extension in the arms.|
|8 Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)Lying on your back on the floor, draw your knees into your chest. Keep the left side of your back in contact with the floor, extend both legs straight out toward the right, and hold the outer edge of your left foot with either your right hand or a strap. If you experience pain in your lower back, keep your knees bent. With each exhalation, rotate your belly in the direction opposite your legs. Repeat on the left side.|
|9 Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), supportedLie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips and place a block (standing on its tall end) underneath your sacrum. Ground the outer border of your shoulders into the floor and lift the sides of your torso up, keeping your front ribs, sternum, and collarbones broad.|
|10 Siddhasana (Adept’s Pose)
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the edge of one or more folded blankets, making sure that your knees are lower than the top of your pelvis. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing down. Elongate the sides of your torso and lift your sternum. Create space under your armpits by imagining you have a small balloon under each arm. Breathe fully, focusing on the inhalation.
A basic breath that you can take anywhere when you need to. Lengthening the exhale kicks the parasympathetic nervous system up a notch, allows more space between thoughts, eliminates more waste and toxins from the body and allows the body to settle more. Much like the Equal Breath, we use a count to inhale but then we exhale for double that count. Find a comfortable seat or lay down on the floor, hands can be placed on the belly or wherever they are comfortable. Begin with the inhale to a count of 2, then exhale for a count of 4. Slightly constrict your back of throat as you exhale (similar to Ujjayi breath). As you practice and progress in deepening your breath, perhaps the counts will get longer. Begin to add a pause at the end of the exhalation where no breath is coming or going. Then when you feel the need to breath in, inhale. Adding this pause sends a message to your brain to slow down, thoughts come a little slower. Try it and see how it affects your thinking.
Props: 2 blocks, 3 blankets, neck roll and other support
Place two blocks medium height at end of your mat, roll a blanket smoothly and place over blocks. Two bolster folded blankets are in front of blocks stacked on top of each other. Use a neck roll and eye pillow and any additional blankets for comfort and grounding. Can add a blanket to lower legs.
Childs Pose – Frog Variation
Bring blocks to lowest height, place rolled up blanket on top of blocks, smooth any wrinkles. Two longer blankets folded in half go lengthwise on mat. Fold top blanket down for head pillow. Sit between blocks and long blankets and put legs over blocks, soles of the feet together.