Can I Yoga if I have a cold, and am feeling blocked up?

So you’re sniffling and sneezing, should you attempt yoga or just give up and go to bed?  Please don’t fret, all is not lost, here are a few suggestions if you are feeling a little rundown.

LISTEN Check in with your body before a physical asana practice. If you’re feeling lethargic and wiped out, you might make things worse by working through your normal routine, so don’t do it, take a break. Try a more gentle or restorative practice if you need to stretch your creaky limbs.

GOT A BIG COLD?  Try Bhramari pranayama.
What is it?  A breathing practice in which a soft “humming-bee” sound is produced during exhalation to stimulate the Ajna Chakra (the eyebrow region, also known as the “Third Eye”). Vibrations from humming can open the sinuses and let phlegm drain, which can relieve pressure and may even help stave off a bacterial infection of the sinuses – try chanting Om, or, for nasal congestion, experiment with the pranayama practice of Bhramari.

How to:  Sit comfortably, with the back tall and shoulders relaxed. With eyes closed, take a few natural breaths. Then, keeping the lips lightly sealed, inhale through the nostrils. Exhaling, make the sound of the letter M,  you should be making a  humming sound. Sustain the sound until you need to inhale. Then repeat: Inhale through the nose (if you can), then hum like a buzzing bee as you exhale. Continue by inhaling as needed and exhaling with this sound for several minutes. You can practice as long as it feels good.

The longer you sustain the humming exhalation, the more relaxing the Bee Breath is likely to be—but forcing the breath beyond your capacity can have the reverse effect, so don’t force yourself to maintain any particular speed. Inhale whenever necessary, and let the buzzing sound last as long as it is comfortable.


GOT A TEENY COLD?  Try Ujjayi breath pranayama, pronounced “oojai,” loosely translates to victorious breath, and is sometimes referred to as ocean breath because of the soft sound made when performing it.

What is it?  It is a basic yogic breathing technique used in many different yoga postures and in meditation. Ujjayi helps clear the mind and the sinuses. It is made by slightly constricting the muscles in the throat to control the flow of air.

How to:  Inhale slowly through the nose, allowing the stomach to expand. Next, exhale slowly and allow the lungs to empty completely, keeping the shoulders relaxed. The exhalation should be twice as long as the inhalation. Repeat for up to five minutes.

During the inhalation, imagine a hole in the throat that you are breathing through. The inhalation should rub against the back of the nasal cavity and throat. During the exhalations, imagine that you are saying “ha” without the “a,” and to feel the breath rubbing against the frontal sinuses as it leaves the body. Both inhalation and exhalation must be done with the mouth closed, through the nostrils only.

PHYSICAL EXERCISE  Once your energy improves, you can gradually return to a more vigorous practice even if you still have a cough or your nose is a little stuffy – warm up with Sun Salutation and throw in a Humble Warrior Pose to mix things up a little. N.B. Modify or skip inversions such as Headstand and Handstand, even Shoulderstand can worsen nasal congestion and head pressure. If you feel worse after practicing, it’s a sign that you’ve probably done too much.

TREAT YOURSELF  If you feel you need to take something for your cold symptoms, and nasal congestion, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to boiling water and inhale the vapors.

Disclaimer:  This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult his or her GP.