4 Soothing Stretches for Cold and Flu Relief

By , Rebecca Weible, Yo Yoga! Founder
When overly tired or stressed out, our immune system becomes less effective and often results in a cold or the flu. Getting sidelined by sickness when you have errands to run, deadlines to meet and mouths to feed is frustrating, to say the least, but finding simple ways to ease some of the aches and pains until you're back on your feet is a relief.

Gentle yoga poses or a restorative yoga class can help by letting your body rest and reduce some of that stress. With these four simple yoga poses, you'll provide light opening for the chest, neck and shoulders to help relieve some of the discomfort often caused by congestion. 

Neck Stretch

Perform this pose in a chair or sitting on the floor at the start of your yoga practice. If you're sitting in a chair, place both feet on the floor and sit up tall. If you're sitting on the floor, sit with a tall, straight spine. Slowly tilt your head to the right, resting your right hand gently on the left side of the head for a little added weight to lightly deepen the stretch. Do not pull on the neck, but rather use the weight of the hand and make sure to relax both shoulders away from the ears. Hold for three to five breaths, remove your hand and slowly bring your head back to center. Repeat on the left.
This gentle stretch relieves discomfort caused by stress, sleeping for long periods of time, sleeping on the couch and general discomfort from sinuses.

Child's Pose with Shoulder Opening

Start on hands and knees, separating your knees about hip distance apart with the tops of the feet on the mat and bring your big toes to touch. Settle your hips back toward your heels and extend your arms forward, resting your forehead on the mat. Bending at the elbows, keep your elbows on the mat and bring your palms together into a prayer gesture. If you have some flexibility in the shoulders, bring your hands back toward your upper back and rest your thumbs between your shoulder blades.
Child's pose is both calming and stress reducing, which can help us to feel a little less miserable as we battle those cold symptoms. The shoulder opening element can relieve some discomfort in the neck and shoulders as caused by congestion.

Heart Melting Pose

This pose like a combination of downward dog and child's pose. Starting on your hands and knees, tuck your toes and start to extend your arms forward to the top of the mat. Keep the hips lifted and back, and rest your forehead on the mat. Let your chest open and move down toward the mat. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
This pose, which is deeply opening for the chest, helps to temporarily clear the sinuses. The feeling of expansion in the chest can also make it feel easier to breathe and relieve feelings of tightness associated with chest congestion.

Baddha Konasana

Sitting up against the wall, bring the soles of your feet together letting your knees open out to the side. Use the wall to keep the spine straight and tall. Gravity will allow the legs feel heavy. Remain here for five to 10 breaths.
This allows opening in the hips which can help reduce tightness that results from sitting or lying around when you feel lethargic. It also helps to reduce stress which can be caused by being sick, missing work or having to skip other responsibilities. Stress, perhaps not surprisingly, is often the cause of getting sick from the start.