10 poses to boost en­ergy and health

To prime your body for win­ter health, try this gen­tle se­quence de­signed to sup­port the lym­phatic sys­tem.

Yoga Journal - - Contents - Se­quence by Tias Lit­tle Story by El­iz­a­beth Win­ter

IF YOU’D JUST as soon skip win­ter’s colds and flu this year, you may want to spend more time on your mat. Tias Lit­tle, di­rec­tor of Pra­jna Yoga, be­lieves a prac­tice that in­cludes sup­ported and in­verted poses, like the one you’ll find on the next two pages, in­creases cir­cu­la­tion of lymph—a clear, wa­tery fluid that moves through the body pick­ing up bac­te­ria and viruses and fil­ter­ing them out via the lymph nodes.

Un­like blood, which moves as a re­sult of the heart pump­ing, lymph moves by mus­cu­lar con­trac­tions. Phys­i­cal ex­er­cise, such as yoga, is key for keep­ing lymph flow­ing. The move­ment of lymph is also af­fected by grav­ity, so any time your head is be­low your heart— for ex­am­ple, in Ut­tanasana (Stand­ing For­ward Bend) and Salamba Sar­van­gasana (Sup­ported Shoul­der- stand)—lymph moves into the res­pi­ra­tory or­gans, where germs of­ten en­ter the body. When you re­turn to an up­right po­si­tion, grav­ity drains the lymph, send­ing it through your lymph nodes for cleans­ing.

In each pose, Lit­tle rec­om­mends rest­ing your head on a sup­port to al­low your neck, throat, and tongue to re­lax fully, thereby en­cour­ag­ing the lymph to flow freely through the nose and throat. Hold each pose for two to five min­utes, breath­ing deeply from your di­aphragm the en­tire time.

Don’t wait un­til the first sign of snif­fles to at­tempt this prac­tice—by that point in­ver­sions could ag­i­tate both body and mind. In­stead, use this se­quence to build up your im­mu­nity through­out the win­ter and keep com­mon colds at bay.

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