If you're here because you've come down with a cough, cold, flu or an illness that means you can't come into the studio then we hope you get better soon! If you've come down with an illness, cough or cold, stay at home and rest so that you can make a speedier recovery.
Practicing yoga (particularly strong asana) and pushing on with your normal life will not help necessarily help you get better faster - as much as you can, rest is best.
Certain yoga practices, postures and breathing techniques can support and soothe the nervous system which in turn have been proven to speed the healing process, fight illness and improve all round health. Being unwell is a horrible feeling and there's often not much we can do about it apart from support our bodies process and wait for it to pass.
If your illness is getting worse, please call your GP or 111. This advice should not be used instead of seeking professional medical help. The NHS has webpages on what to do if you have a cold, the flu or coronavirus.
Breath Practice (Pranayama)
If your breath is quite short, or you're having trouble with a blocked nose or sore chest from an illness then you may find that you feel more anxious or worried. A shorter breath sends signals to the mind to be alert, whereas a slower longer breath sends signals to be calm.
See if you can take a few minutes for 3 - 5 longer breaths whenever you feel able.
Lying down with a lifted chest can allow your breath to deepen, especially when you have a cough or a cold. It can help create more space in the your rib cage and lungs, which can often feel congested when you are unwell.
You can also try the following positions depending on what you have available:
With a blanket: Roll a blanket so that it is no more than 10cm thick and is wider than your chest. Lie back with your shoulder blades on the blanket, then slide backwards until they tip off and the tops of your shoulders touch the floor. Let the head rest on the floor.
With bricks: if you have bricks, then place the bricks behind you and lie back so that your shoulder blades are on the first brick. Then adjust the second brick for your head - you may want a blanket and a brick under your head.
With cushions (or a bolster): grab some cushions and put them behind you, lie back over the cushions and you may want a blanket under your head. Get enough cushions so that you feel like your chest is lifting and your lower back is long. Knees can be bent, or legs can straight and relaxed
In whichever of these positions you choose, you can relax completely and allow the breath to deepen, you don't need to make much effort with the breath and keep your jaw and face soft. Maybe the in and out breath can be of the same or similar length.
If you feel comfortable you could rest one hand on your lower abdomen (just below your navel) and one hand on your chest. Then imagine your breath like a wave flowing and filling the body up from lower abdomen to the chest as you breathe in. Then imagine the wave descending as you breath out.
See if you can keep your attention on your breath and stay for 5 - 10 minutes or as long as is comfortable.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Bound Angle Pose)
Place a pile of cushions (or a bolster) behind you and lie back, you may want a blanket under your head. Get enough cushions so that you feel like your chest is lifting and your lower back is long.
Bend your knees and bring your legs together, then allow the knees to drop out to the sides so the soles of the feet come together. You may want to tuck some more cushions/rolled up blankets under your thighs so that the legs can release completely.
Let your hands rest wherever is comfortable, notice the breath, relax and stay for 5 - 10 minutes or as long as you like.
Legs Up the Wall
If you can lie down without coughing, then legs up the wall is a great restorative pose.
Sit sideways very close to the wall and then slowly lower down onto your side and then start to roll onto your back, at the same time swing your legs up the wall. You can press your feet onto the wall to lift your hips up and shuffle forwards or back if you need to. If your hamstrings are tight then move further away from the wall. You may want a blanket under your head and an eye pillow.
Notice your breath and stay for 5 - 10 minutes or as long as is comfortable. Come out by bending your knees and rolling to the side.
If you don't have wall space, then you can put your legs onto a chair or your sofa.
Alternative Seated Shavasana
If you want to do some movement or your usual practice but have trouble lying down for shavasana - which can often bring on a coughing fit - then you can try sitting upright.
Sit in a way that is comfortable for your, you may want to cross your legs and sit up on height. You may choose to lean against a wall. Wherever you are let the spine be long and shoulders relaxed. Notice your breath and stay for 5 - 10 minutes or as long as is comfortable.
Placing a small amount of pressure with the fingers between the eyes on the bridge of the nose can feel soothing and relieve some pressure for blocked noses.
Yoga Nidra (translated as Yogic Sleep) are guided meditations that can settle the body and mind. These are perfect if you are unwell or have low energy as they require no movement!
You can either lie down - maybe on your bed or sofa with your head and chest elevated, or sit in a way that is comfortable.
These websites are an excellent resource for yoga nidra's in many different languages and themes.
You can find all of Mel Skinner's Yoga Nidra recordings here: https://www.yoganidranetwork.org/fr/users/skinnermelbristol
Lots of love & get well soon,