Best Yoga for when you’re not well

Best Yoga for when you’re not well

We think we’re not doing yoga if we’re not up on the mat bending and stretching. According to the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, asana, the physical practice of yoga, is only one of eight limbs of yoga. Asana is designed to give us the opportunity to sit for longer periods in meditation as well as remain well and vital.

If you have the flu, that’s not the time for vigorous asana. That’s the time for getting well. So often we force ourselves back to the mat before it’s time. This is not yoga.

So what else can we practice when our body is getting well?

Gentle pranayama, meditation, silent chanting or listening to chanting, study – or daydreaming…

What about restorative postures? Sure. One of the best ones might be the being horizontal in bed posture. Ever heard the expression, what you resist, persists? Whether or not that’s true, resistance to what’s actually happening creates tension in the body, cuts off our deep breathing and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – our fight/flight/freeze response. Resistance can show up in a myriad of ways. That quiet voice saying, When am I gonna get better? I’m so annoyed I can’t go to yoga. I think I’m going stir crazy. You know, it really shouldn’t be this way… Or it might show up by being irritable with the people around us. Or sulking. I do my best whining when I’m not well.

Perhaps the best yoga practice when one is not well is to practice being happy. Observe the physical sensations going on in our bodies and return to the breath. Marjie is one of my committed listeners – someone who listens me bigger than I can see myself. Marjie is a walking miracle. She is 75 and two years ago, she had a stroke. Her husband Chuck, was told she would be a vegetable and never walk again. The future she created for herself as she came out of her coma was – All is Well and I’m happy. Two years later, she’s leading the Summer Intensive Wisdom Course Leader training I attended in New London, Connecticut in July. She laughs so much! I thought, well, if Marjie can create ‘All is Well and I’m happy’ in the face of the stroke and all of her symptoms, I can create ‘All is Well and I’m happy’ with whatever I’m faced with in my life.

It makes me wonder: how much happiness could I actually stand?

Photo credit: Zara Albion-Lawson