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But one thing that is definitely NOT loved about this time of year is flu season. I’m a nurse in a local hospital and can immediately tell when flu season has started- it just POPS then spreads like wildfire.
There are a ton of things you can do to boost your immune system to protect yourself like increasing your vitamin C intake and making sure you stay hydrated, but did you know that you can also boost your immune system with yoga?!
Yoga has tons of benefits that improve your health, and I think it is a great and fun way to keep your immunity high in the colder months!
Below is a simple 9 pose yoga sequence you can do at home that will keep you active and healthy. Although yoga in general is great for improving your immune system, the poses below have specific benefits that I think make them a little more effective in keeping you from getting sick.
Hold each pose for about 10 to 12 breaths and repeat on the other side. You can start with two rounds and increase them to your liking!
Chaturanga is included in multiple sun salutations, and is part of the three pose sequence that your yoga teacher is talking about when she says “go through your flow”.
It is a great strengthening pose that is very effective at warming up your body and improving circulation, which is so important for staying healthy.
Start in a plank position and really engage your core.
Start to slowly lower yourself to the ground in a reverse push up motion, but hug your elbows into your sides.
The more you engage your core and legs, the more balanced you will feel in this posture. You should now feel awake and ready for the rest of the sequence :).
2.Upward Facing Dog
Upward Dog stimulates your central nervous system, and opens up your shoulders and chest, which is great for fighting respiratory illness and those with asthma.
From chaturanga, as you almost reach the floor, flip your feet so the tops are on the floor, and straighten your arms, lifting through your chest and arching your back.
In this pose, your legs are completely lifted off the ground, where as in Cobra your legs would be on the ground.
Make sure you engage through your legs and arms, and don’t let your shoulders hunch up towards your ears.
3.Downward Facing Dog
Have you ever heard of the saying “a down dog a day keeps the doctor away?” (or did I just make that up…)
Well, it is true! Downward Facing Dog is also a great pose for improving circulation, and inversions alone are highly effective in relieving sinus congestion, which is why this sequence is full of them!
If you are feeling super congested before doing this pose, try going slower and gently shake your head back and forth a few times to help get things moving.
From your Upward Facing Dog, flip the tops of your feet back and send your hips up and back into the air, pushing through your heels.
Remember to engage your entire body here, including your core, arms, and thighs. It will balance your weight better and be more effective.
Wild Thing is pretty much a one stop shop for balancing, hip opening, strengthening, and is also a variation of a backbend.
It’s a great pose to do to combat the winter blues, and is another great chest opener for healthy lungs.
The transition from downward dog to wild thing will make you feel super graceful and invigorated with this fun and playful flow.
From your down dog, lift your left leg high up into the air and start to bend it, opening up the hip.
Now start to slowly “flip your dog” by dropping your left foot on the other side of your body while you pivot your right foot outward for stability.
As your left foot lands, keep the leg bended and balance on the ball of your left foot. Your right foot will end up flat on the ground at a slight angle.
Stay grounded in your right hand for support and reach your left hand towards the front of the room.
Allow your hand to look towards the front of your room and continue to lift through your chest.
When you think of High Lunge, you probably think of it just being a great pose to build leg strength, right? But it actually is a very effective balancing pose as well.
You are balancing on the ball of your back foot and engaging through your front leg for stability. This promotes concentration and decreases stress, which is so important for reducing your chances of getting sick.
Try doing a fun transition and challenging yourself by going straight into your high lunge from Wild Thing!
You can do this by crunching your left leg into your chest as you “flip your dog” back over and push it through to the front of the mat, ground your feet, then rise into your high lunge.
Otherwise, just come back into Three Legged Dog from Wild Thing, then send your left foot to the front of the mat and rise.
Remember, your front leg should be parallel with the ground, and you should be on the ball of your back foot and extending through your heel.
Tree pose is another fun balancing pose that promotes concentration and improves nerve-muscle coordination.
From High Lunge, shift the weight into your left leg as you straighten it and come out of high lunge to bring your right knee into your chest.
Use your left hand to place your right foot to rest on the inside of your left thigh (or lower if that is more doable for you, just make sure your do not rest it on your knee).
Bring your hands to center at your heart space and drop your shoulders.
It may be helpful here to find a “drishti” which is an area or object to focus on to help you maintain balance and focus.
7.Wide Legged Forward Fold
Folds and inversions are very powerful immune boosters and blood circulators, which is why the last few poses are dedicated to them :).
Wide Legged Forward Fold is great for those of you with tight hamstrings, and forward folds in general are very effective in easing the mind and reducing anxiety.
When you’re stressed out you are way more likely to get sick. It wears you down and breaks down your immune system. But, lucky for you, we have fun stuff like folds and shoulderstands to cure that!
To get into Wide Legged Forward Fold from Tree, simply take your right foot that is resting on your thigh, and step it out as wide as you possibly can while your feet still are flat on the ground.
Lift up through your hands above your head, then dive down through your center to fold to the floor.
You can try grabbing both ankles, grabbing different elbows and swaying lightly, or try reaching a little bit backwards between your legs for a deeper stretch.
Take this time to reflect on how your body feels and find your breath.
8.Seated Straight Legged Forward Fold
This is another forward fold, but seated and with closed straight legs. Doing this variation really starts to relax your body and mind from the powerful and uplifting poses you were doing earlier in the sequence.
Come into Staff Pose first, and make sure you are sitting directly on your sits bones by moving any flesh out of the way.
Lift your arms up overhead, then slowly start to fold over onto your legs. You have a few more options here then with your standing fold. You can simply grab onto your feet or ankles, or you can get a pillow or blanket and allow your head to rest on it to promote relaxation.
For the last pose and inversion of the sequence, come into shoulderstand. This is the pose that most people think of when they hear the word “inversion”.
This is a fun pose that has many different variations. You can choose to come into it supported or unsupported, and can play with how you keep your legs as well.
Come slowly onto the ground from Staff Pose. Place your hands flat on the ground on either side of your body.
Bend your knees and bring them into your chest. As you start to lift your hips off the ground, straighten your legs into the air and place your hands on your lower back for support.
Roll all the way back so you are only resting on your head and shoulder blades. Your head should naturally slightly tuck.
If you would like to come into this unsupported, leave your hands where they are flat on the ground or clasp them together for a deeper shoulder stretch.
Repeat this sequence twice, making sure to switch sides, and build up to more rounds if you are feeling up to it!
I hope this sequence helps you stay warm, toasty, and healthy all season long!
For more fun yoga routines you can do at home, check out the articles below:
Comment below to let us know how you liked this sequence, or to request any other sequences you would like featured on our blog!
Ally is the co-founder of GroundedPanda.com with her fiance Victor. She began practicing yoga at the beginning of her career as a Registered Nurse to cope with the physical and mental stress it put on her, and fell in love with it. Her goal is to help beginners develop a fulfilling practice without the intimidation. Besides managing this website, she loves hiking with her loving fiance and cuddling with her two silly cats.