It’s probably safe to say that for many of us January isn’t the most enjoyable month of the year.
The fun of Christmas has faded into memory, bank accounts are stretched to breaking point and the weather (at least here in the UK) tends to be less than wonderful…cold, damp and drizzly.
This dip in temperatures often brings with it colds, sniffles and other unpleasant ailments that can leave us feeling depleted and low. At times like this taking a yoga practice can feel beyond us – especially if we’re used to taking a relatively dynamic approach to our practice.
However, if practiced with the right approach and intention, yoga practice can be a wonderful tonic when we’re feeling unwell – providing an opportunity for relaxation, firing up our parasympathetic nervous system and helping to give our immune system a little boost.
My own start to 2016 was somewhat spluttery, having been struck down with a nasty virus just before the New Year - and so for a few weeks I took a somewhat different approach to my practice. Vinyasas, most standing poses and hand balances (and even down dog) were replaced by a greater emphasis on seated postures, longer holds and liberal use of blocks and bolsters. You might call it a more yin or restorative approach, but I'd hesitate to label it as either...it's simply an approach that worked for me.
So if you’re feeling a little under the weather, perhaps try the sequence below – I certainly felt it helped me. (N.B. If you’re working with any injuries or medical conditions it’s always wise to consult a doctor before practicing yoga and to work with an experienced yoga teacher!)
I’ve provided suggestions for how long to hold each pose – but work with what feels comfortable and appropriate for you. Enjoy spending time in each posture, becoming curious about the sensations present and exploring those sensations with the breath - use this time as an opportunity to relax, release any unnecessary tension and recharge your energy levels.
And if you have any other poses, suggestions or approaches to yoga practice that help when you’re feeling unwell, please add your comments below…