This is a guest post from Heather Ashare. Heather has been a dedicated practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga yoga for several years. As the yoga expert at DietsInReview.com, she shares simple and effective ways to make yoga a part of your life for greater fitness and wellness. DietsInReview.com also provides healthy recipes, weight loss tools, nutrition and health guidance in the Diet Blog and more than 475 diet reviews.
Did you know that there are over 200 different viruses that can cause a cold? It’s no wonder you may always feel like you’re sick: Germs are everywhere! One messy sneeze from your child or a firm handshake from a new client and the next thing you know, you’re sneezing, running a mild fever and sucking on cough drops to ease your scratchy throat.
With cold and flu season upon us, it is important to stay on top of your health before an illness sidelines you. Yoga is one effective way for keeping your respiratory system working at its best so that you can be at the top of your game over the next few months.
The Stress Connection
Given the added stress of these tough economic times and the approaching holidays, your immune system may be working in overdrive to keep you healthy. Research has now shown that stress of any kind taxes the immune system and leaves it more vulnerable to inside invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Yoga can help boost your immune system through its ability to promote relaxation. Studies have shown that practicing yoga lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol thereby leaving your immune system in solid working order to do what it does best: Fend off infections.
The Breath Connection
Breathing is not just our vital life force but in yoga, proper breathing is necessary to staving off illnesses and creating equanimity in the mind. During a yoga practice, you are acutely focused on the quality of your breath as you engage in full inhales and exhales. This complete breathing pattern in combination with yoga asanas (postures) brings more oxygen into the lungs and to the entire respiratory system. This results in improved circulation and clearer nasal and bronchial passageways.
The Lifestyle Connection
Adopting a regular yoga practice filters over into other areas of your life. Consistent yoga practitioners are more inclined to eat a healthy and wholesome diet, get plenty of sleep, avoid using alcohol or tobacco in excess and react to stress in productive ways. All of these lifestyle factors have a positive accumulative effect on our health keeping us healthy in body, mind and spirit.
But don’t take it too hard if you get the sniffles – even the great yogis sages got sick. If you do happen to succumb to one of winter’s many viruses, drink lots of clear, non-sugary fluids, like gingerroot tea, broths, herbal teas and water, eat lightly and most importantly, get plenty of rest. Getting sick is your body’s way of saying “take care of me!” And that is exactly what you need to do.