As we head into the peak weeks for cold and flu season, don’t wait for early symptoms to fight back! Being proactive against seasonal illnesses begins in the hot room.
Sleep, exercise and clean eating are the widely accepted pillars on which good health is built. Exercise increases the flow of the lymphatic system therefore it helps improve the function of the immune system. A 90-minute walk through the neighborhood works to increase your body’s immunity, but the sweatier the workout, the more magnified the benefits. Many seasoned yogis rarely get sick, and when they do, they report shorter and less severe ailments because their bodies are overall healthier, more resistant to illness and better equipped to bounce back.
While the close, moist quarters of a Bikram studio may ignite the hypochondriac within when colds start to spread, remember that you’re actually in a much cleaner environment than the gym or coffee shop. Aside from the regular deep cleaning all the PURE Bikram Yoga studios receive, and the personal space bubble you practice in, remember yoga’s stress reducing abilities when selecting an exercise routine to keep viruses at bay. Our bodies are much more susceptible to germs when our brains are bogged down by stress. Stress hormones cause the thymus, the gland responsible for producing immune cells, to shrink, making it much less effective at fighting off invasive foes. Short term, one class helps relieve stress, particularly forward bends and restorative postures like savasana. Long term, regular practice targets specific organs, as with all compression postures, to increasingly strengthen the body’s immune system.
Many Bikram yoga students follow some variation of a yogic diet if for no other reason than the hot room is much more bearable without deep fried and processed food in your stomach. In addition to whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes offer tons of antioxidants to help support one’s immunity. Sugar, whether from beer or cookies, and caffeine all suppress different immune functions and can make it more difficult for your body to serve you best.
The best defense is a good offense. Try to fit in even one more class per week than you did in the summer months. Wash your hands regularly. Stay home when you are contagious, and come back when you’re feeling better, when you’re ready to work hard and simultaneously be kind to your recovering body.