It’s that time of the month again. Rainy seasons here, rainy seasons there and we can’t really avoid catching colds. Just by getting wet in the rain when your back is wet with sweat, you are already susceptible to sickness. You know full well how much of a hassle catching a cold is. Having to blow your nose every after 5 minutes, the struggle of breathing when your nose is clogged, the embarrassment of having a runny nose, the itchiness of your throat, the struggle in sneezing, the watery eyes after sneezing and others. For people who do yoga or yogis, having colds may cause them problems.
Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and self-abnegating practice which involves controlling your breath, simple meditation and the execution of specific body positions. It is commonly done for health and relaxation. Yoga needs a huge mass of energy and you must be energetic when you do yoga. It doesn’t matter if you’re not flexible, as long as you have a good amount of energy, you can do yoga. However, you can’t do some yoga routines when you are sick, because you need a lot of energy.
Should I go to yoga class if I don’t feel well? Asking other people this question, surely their answer would be a big fat NO. But for yogis who doesn’t want to miss their yoga time, they would force themselves just to attend the classes. Attending yoga class when you don’t feel well isn’t always bad. Moderate yoga practice is actually good for your body as it helps strengthen your immune system so you can fight off the infections that cause the cold. Just by doing simple stretches, you can easily energize your body. However, it should be a gentle practice. Keep it easy and slow, not like hot yoga. Let’s say you’re feeling a cold coming and you forced your body too much. You got exposed to the germs around you and because of that, you weakened your immune system resulting to a cold. So you should still be aware of your body’s condition.
This can happen even when you are in the yoga studio. Particularly when your body is already weak, and you opted to do yoga, the bacteria, viruses and infection present in the yoga mats and on the floor can easily transfer to your body, leaving you feeling worse than when you came in.
If you’re in between feeling good and bad, be gentle with yourself during practice. Don’t surprise your body with difficult routines. Listen to your body and when you can’t take it anymore, stop. You need to take a lot of rest, drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and always play it safe. If your body weakens, you can switch to easy warm ups like Centering (Ujjayi) or gentle stretching like Crossed Legs Posture (Sukasana) so you can still be moving your body without stressing it.
When you’re feeling really sick, your first priority is to rest and regain your strength. Take the medical treatments your doctor prescribes. With the free time you got, you can do Pranayama (Breathing) Exercises like Channel Cleaning Breath (Nadi Shodhana Pranyama) to practice controlling your breath, which is your prana, or vital life force. If you decide on laying out your mat with your current condition, you would be punishing your already weak body. You would not want yourself to be in contact with the mat. At this point, your immune system is weak and the mat can be a source of more infection, bacteria and viruses, which can make you even more sick.
In addition, staying in one room practicing with other people while being in the middle of a bad cold, you would be endangering the people around you. Steamy, hot and minimum room space, germs can easily circulate around the room and strike their next victims. Think of the other people around you too, and not only you.
If you want to get back to yoga very soon, the most important thing that you have to do right now is to take some rest. This is particularly true during the first three days of your sickness when you are most contagious. Aside from giving your body time to heal, it also prevents you from spreading your virus among your classmates and your instructor.
After experiencing a bout of sickness, you couldn’t wait to get back on the mat. However, you should not immediately jump to difficult routines. First, start from the basics, until you can do harder routines. Be patient. Don’t rush things. You still have a lot of time. Refrain from exhausting yourself again. Stressing your body when you are still in the process of recovery may bring back your sickness. You wouldn’t want to get sick again do you? Instead, focus on regaining your strength again to practice everyday with a smile in your face again and to get your healthy lifestyle back to normal.
Yoga teachers are very understanding and they can help modify yoga poses for you. At this point, inversion poses are still a no-no particularly if you just came from a flu or if you are experiencing nose congestion. Even the most relaxing pose, which is the Savasana or the corpse pose might still require a bit of modification to make it more comfortable for you. One of the great things about yoga is that although the practice can be communal, the movements are purely individual. This makes it easier for you to change the poses depending on your comfort level.
Be it in yoga or in other types of exercises, working out while being sick is counterproductive and should not be encouraged, particularly during the worst part of your sickness. Give yourself three days to regain your strength back instead of pushing yourself to exercise more. Not going to yoga class for three days is way better than missing the class, your work and other commitments for a week, because you have overstretched yourself at the time that you are sick.