I was asked specifically about sinus issues and yoga in class this week, so I have developed a little sinus-protection sequence, which can be practiced along with the use of a neti pot and a healthy diet to help prevent the inflammation of the four main hollow spaces underneath the facial bones, which lead to the nose cavity, and can cause a lot of pain in the head, neck, nose, cheek and ear area. Dark evenings pulling in and colder weather over Winter is an invitation for us to boost our immune systems and support the 'wet, cold' feeling of our bodies with balancing warmth and dryness.
Yoga as a holistic system offers preventative healthcare tools to upkeep and support the body and mind.
I would recommend everyone, but especially those with sinus issues, to buy a neti pot – go to www.himalayaninstitute.org/products-publications/neti-pot-products/ for more info.
As ever, keep moving and breathing with the body – stimulating the glands to do their work, and to keep cleansing and renewing the vital organs with movement and prana (breath work). Inversions are particularly helpful for clearing sinuses, so here is a little home asana routine to gently work through in a warm, gently lit room.
Easy Ten Minute Daily Practice
Whilst holding these poses, focus on a steady, soft and natural breath; finding comfort/good space (sukha) in the body as well as stability (sthira). This is a yin/restorative approach to yoga so you needn’t push your body to stretch muscles or build strength – simply be present and comfortable as you hold these asana. If you have never practiced asana before I recommend that you go to a certified yoga teacher and be guided and corrected in these in a class or private tutorial before you practice at home alone.
Walk feet towards hands
Kneel down, tuck head up against knees on floor and hands grip heelsà
Advanced longer practice
Begin with the ten-minute sequence. Again, seek guidance from a certified teacher if you are relatively new to these poses. I don’t recommend you try them for the first time at home alone.
Begin lying on your yoga mat. Blanket to hand. Take 25 smooth breaths in each asana.
Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) – I encourage my students to practice this with a folded blanket underneath their shoulders, stopping one inch short of the edge of their shoulders. As you rise into shoulder stand, your shoulders meet the edge of the blanket, and allow your neck to be relieved of any pressure. The weight should be descending down through the base of the shoulder blades, never the neck.
Halasana (plough pose) – Again with blanket. Use hands alongside spine for support if toes don’t touch the ground, allow your legs to bend and knees to rest on forehead or gently squeeze either side of ears. If your toes do reach the floor, straighten legs, interlace fingers behind back and release the arms flat down onto the floor behind your back.
Matsyasana (fish pose) This is a counter-pose to sarvangasana and halasana (remove blanket) – place hands palms down under sit bones, push into elbows so chest raises and top of head rests on floor, stretching neck. Advanced variation – hands in prayer above chest pointing to sky, and toes pointed and raised off ground, as chest raises and head drops back.
Sirsasana (headstand) Seek guidance from a teacher until you have this asana comfortably.
Pranayama (breathing exercises)
Full Yogic Breathing (abdominal breathing/belly breath) 25 breaths
Kappalabhati (fire breath) out of nose 3 sets of 25
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) 25 breaths
5-20 minute Savasana / Meditation
Often ill health and low immune systems are caused to a shockingly large extent by our stress levels. See the meditation blog for some tips if this is a challenge for you.