Time and time again, a yoga practice of asana and meditation have proven to help people get healthier in mind and body. But having and keeping a healthy body sometimes means recognizing when it’s time to modify our yoga practice. If you’ve ever had a migraine, the flu, an injury or something else, you know that it can be hard to keep up with a yoga practice and that’s an important message to receive from your body.
As the song goes, you gotta know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. When we get a nice momentum or groove going it can be frustrating to take a step back for rest, but rest is important — especially when you’re sick. And then comes the dreaded ego sneaking in with messages like, “You can do it, it’s all in your head” or “If you take a break now, you’ll never get back into it” or even “If I want to look like Jennifer Aniston, I have to push myself.” None of which are factual or helpful.
I like this post from Mary Catherine Starr, yoga instructor & studio director in Arlington, VA. She writes about her own struggle with maintaining a yoga practice during a sinus infection, and has some great tips on how to practice when you can’t practice.
This inability to do exactly what I love when it comes to asana and the abundance of sick or sniffly people around me got me thinking, how do you still “practice” yoga when your’re under the weather? I have a few ideas, pulling from what I’ve actually done over the past week, and thought I would share them with you today. But let me also say that these tips are for people who are struggling with seasonal allergies or sinus infections–for people who, like me, can still go about their day, albiet uncomfortably, but are just under the weather enough to be unable to practice–not those who are so weak that they’re stuck in bed or unable to do much of anything.
Read the full post ‘Yoga for when you can’t do yoga‘ on her blog, Starr Struck. And, here are some great yoga poses for when you have a cold from Yoga Journal. When all else fails, approach your practice like a beginner. Once your’e feeling better, take it back to square one. Allow your body to re-experience the newness of yoga and get reacquainted with the poses.
The most important thing to remember is that yoga ISN’T just about physical poses. When you’re sick or rundown, expand your meditation and pranayama practice (if it’s accessible). Perhaps it’s the universe’s way of reminding you that there’s more to your practice than asana. Try some guided meditations or transcendental meditation in place of asana (or shorten your asana practice and opt for a longer meditation.)
It is better to perform one’s own duties imperfectly than to master the duties of another. By fulfilling the obligations he is born with, a person never comes to grief. ~ Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita
– Your Charmed Yogi
(Photo: Suddenly Susan)
As I’ve said before, no amount of sun salutations or meditation will change who you are, but rather allow you to accept ALL that you are without judgement or derision. I accept all that I am, including my germicidal tendencies. My best friend and I joke about our shared quirk, what gives us the heebie jeebies and how to get past them. It’s my mountain to climb, folks. I’ll meet you at base camp.
My ‘concern’ about germs started after I was hospitalized with a respiratory infection a decade ago. And, thanks countless blogs and hidden camera television shows about ‘where germs lurk’, I’m pretty much a regular hand washer and microbe sheriff. On a scale of 1 to Howard Hughes, I’d say I’m about a 6 or 7. I do what I can to stay healthy in a world of colds and flu. That said, I find the Niyama ‘Saucha’ right up my alley.
A clean yogi is a Saucha yogi
Saucha is often translated to mean cleanliness, clarity, purity or even simplicity. Foundationally, saucha is concerned with keeping different energies distinct, and protects the sanctity of the energy around us. Part of this has to do with the physical plane and how we treat our bodies and our surroundings. I think I’ve got this one down.
Day-to-day practice & teaching
So what’s a germaphobic yogi to do? On a day to day basis, I exercise common sense mixed with ayurveda. I shower everyday, use a neti pot to keep my sinus passages clean, I wash my hands before I eat, after I go to the bathroom, after I shake someone’s hand, stay home when I’m sick, and I keep my surroundings clean. In my personal asana practice, I use incense to clear the air of negative energy, I practice pranayama to rid my lungs of toxins, I clean my mat, and I put away my props.
When I teach, I try to create a healthy environment free of germs. I protect myself and students by washing my hands between classes — particularly if I’ve done any hands-on adjusting. On a larger level, I encourage students to leave shoes by the door when they enter and to put away their props and leave the studio as clean as when they entered. P.S. I’m not alone in my quest for clean. The blog, Vegan Cinephile did a post called, “Yoga Cooties: My favorite green cleaning products.” You had me at cooties, VC.
Travel kit & survival tactics (think
Ok, so we’ve got day to day covered, now here’s where it will either seem over the top or enlightening. Either way I’m arming you with ideas. Travelling and public places are a whole other ball of ear wax. I don’t touch handles, particularly escalator handles. I flush public toilets with my feet, I open bathroom doors with a paper towel, I use hand eco-friendly hand sanitizer and I’ve been known to bust out the Clorox green cleansing wipes to wipe down a cafeteria table. Don’t get me started on the public pens we use to sign everything… Accept it. I have. Let’s put it this way, if you could see germs, you’d wash your hands.
Germaphobic Yogi’s Travel Kit Essentials
Hotels & airplanes propel us into yet another dimension of protection & safety. So, here’s what I take with me when I’m traveling and know I’ll be staying in a hotel (you’ll thank me later).
Of course, I recognize the need to expose myself to bacteria so that I can build up a tolerance, which happens all the time (unless you truly live in a bubble), but that doesn’t mean I have to leave myself completely vulnerable. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come face to face with one of your quirks and celebrate it. We are who we are, warts and all. Happy cleansing.
– Your Charmed Yogi
(Photo: Yelltale Blog)
I had the pleasure of writing a guest blog post recently on My Crazy Healthy Life blog about my love of coconut oil, particularly as part of my skincare regimen. So, I thought I’d share it here.
I read an article several months ago touting the health benefits of coconut oil, that got me curious about its relatively new found popularity. While coconut oil does have the highest saturated fats of all oils, it’s not an engineered fat. In fact, according to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, “Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.”
Intrigued by the oil’s nutrient profile, I decided to find out more, and that’s when I discovered the amazing skin benefits of coconut oil. It’s touted as being anti-bacterial, and supposedly has anti-aging properties. So I researched further, and found a blog post about using coconut oil to cut costs in a beauty regimen. So, I decided to try it for myself…and I’m glad I did. Read the full post, “Guest post: Wash your face in coconut oil…for real.”
– Your Charmed Yogi
(Photo: Food for My Family Blog)
Chances are you over did it during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve at which time you resolved to eat better, exercise more, get your finances in order, volunteer, and save the world. All of which are amazing, and I wish you all the will power in the world to sustain you on your journey. But, let’s start with something digestible (pun intended).
I’m not a fan of starvation cleanses or all-or-nothing detox regimens, and I don’t believe that every ‘cleanse’ or ‘diet’ is one size fits all. If you follow an Ayurvedic system, and you’re a Vata like me, you know that a fasting cleanse/detox is not for you. Particularly juice cleanses. Now, I love fresh juice more than anyone, but what I’ve learned both intuitively and through study is that regular raw juice disrupts my system with some nasty side effects.
There can, in fact, be too much of even a ‘GOOD’ thing. Every food has the ability to be medicine or poison to the person ingesting it. There are literally dozens of cleanses out there, but I’m going to stick with a basic clean Indian dish integrated into a diet of whole, clean food.
Kitchari also spelled a grillion different ways is a staple in the Panchakarma diet. It’s the ‘chicken noodle soup’ comfort food of India. Panchakarma means five actions, and it’s a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and consciousness. It is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing. It’s a way of reversing the effects of daily living. Kitchari is balancing to all doshas (Kapha, Pitta and Vata), and it’s one of the most balanced and detoxifying foods.
Kitchari is a complete protein and incredibly easy to digest. The main ingredients are rice and mung beans or lentils and the spices are measured precisely to cleanse and balance the system without being overwhelming. You may choose to add seasonal vegetables, but a bland Kitchari may be where you want to start if you’re looking to reset your digestive system.
My friend Amita (with whom I went through yoga teacher training) provided this recipe. It’s fulfilling, delicious, and I can tell you first hand my body feels so much better after this dietary reboot.
Note: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a deep pot and boil until the water is absorbed and the flavors have merged.
Enjoy and may your body thank you.
Special thanks to my friend, Amita for the recipe. ❤
– Your Charmed Yogi