Plow Through Flu Season!
During the heart of winter, many Canadians take to the great outdoors for the sheer pleasure of playing together in the snow. Whether it is skiing on the slops, going tobogganing, or simply enjoying the surrounding beauty of nature and breathing in the crisp fresh air, winter time offers many fun activities for every one to engage in. Before stepping out into the frosty wonderland, most of us protect our body from the outside with scarf’s, toques, mittens and other layers to keep the body warm. But are there other measures that we can insert into our health routine that might enhance the body’s defence system from the inside out? Is it possible to look to our yoga practice to help build up the body’s inner defence system against colds and flu’s? If so, what would spending a little more time on your mat mean to you if it meant improving, and building your immunity against viruses and bacteria?
The system of defence I am referring to with-in the body is known as the lymphatic system. Lymph (when healthy) is a clear, golden like watery fluid, that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes. Lymph circulates throughout the body from the contraction and relaxation of our muscles, thus producing a pumping like effect (Imagine the pumping effects that several rounds of Sun Salutations might bring into the body!). Circulation of lymph is also influenced by gravity. When entering a pose (Asana) that involves the heart above the head, (for example inversions and standing forward bends) lymph travels into the respiratory organs where germs commonly enter the body. Once returning back to a standing or an upright position, the effects of gravity drain the lymph out, where it is transported to the lymph nodes for cleansing. Inversion poses (generally for intermediate to advanced practitioners) such as headstand (Sarvangasana), shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), and plow (Halasana) offer many significant ‘health-giving’ benefits. It is with my most humble opinion that inversions provide us with the greatest benefit for the body when it comes to lymphatic circulation, drainage, and cleansing. Although very beneficial, inversions may not be ideal for everyone. It is recommended to consult with a qualified yoga teacher to go over any contraindications or modifications if necessary.
Please refrain from practicing these movements when the first signs of sniffles arrive. By that time it could be too late to perform inversions safely, and they may aggravate the body and mind. Instead, I invite you to consider the idea of proactively investing time in your practice before hand, in order to bolster your immunity in advance. If it has been a while since your last yoga practice, it is recommended to first let your teacher know at one of the local yoga studios before easing into a routine that is realistic for your time, ability and the development of your practice.
With heartfelt dedication to your yoga practice, whether it is at home or in a studio, your body just might experience the benefits of an immunity boost this winter from the inside and out!
Mike Christy is a certified Rehabilitation Assistant from the Okanagan College, CHEK Practitioner, CHEK holistic coach, personal trainer and yoga teacher. He first started practicing yoga in 2005 and shortly after a couple years, was passionately inspired to amalgamate many of the sacred philosophies of the eastern practice with the health concepts he has learned here in the west. Inspired from this, Mike Christy created a unique, private coaching service called Fluidpower personal training www.fluidpowerkelowna.com and has guided many people to help themselves create and achieve new levels of vitality and health.