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Can Yoga Cure the Common Cold?

December 23, 2010

This is one of the very first blogs I ever wrote for the Yoga Journal Community over two years ago.  I’m sure I don’t live up to the unbridled enthusiasm I had for the powers of Yoga back then.  But I certainly had the right idea!  (I was inspired to repost this by Heather Lounsbury’s recent Tis the Season to Catch a Cold.)

Can Yoga Cure the Common Cold?

I have a really bad cold–the kind of cold that wakes you up in the middle of the night with coughing and sneezing and makes your whole body sore.

OK, Yoga from the earliest days was an effort to relieve suffering, right?  A little old common cold should be a pushover for Yoga Philosophy, right?  Let’s match up the key points of my philosophy with my effort to get through this cold.

The Present Moment–Instead of bemoaning my discomfort and mentally trying to escape from it, I settle into calmly experiencing what is going on at this very moment.  I let myself relax toward the discomfort rather than fighting it.

The Wondrous Self–After awhile, since I’m paying attention instead of escaping, I start to marvel at what’s going on inside my body.  It’s almost like an action/adventure movie–the white blood cells are rushing in to fight the evil virus cells.  What a scientific wonder that the virus doesn’t just take over and destroy me.  There is a lot going on in this movie.  I’m rooting for the good guys.

The Wondrous Universe–I can’t help but notice, since I’m paying attention, that the rest of the universe is still out there and still wondrous.  I’m still part of that wondrous universe, and the vast majority of the atoms and cells and systems in my body are still functioning in their indescribably wondrous way, cold or no cold.

Mind, Body, and Spirit–My muscles are really sore.  I get up and run through my usual Yoga neck, shoulder and torso routines, focusing, as usual, on fully experiencing the sensations of each movement.  This makes my muscles feel much better, and my mind and spirit, too.

I start to experience a version of Enhanced Awareness–My cold is becoming more and more vivid while simultaneously getting smaller and smaller in relationship to the wonder all around me and in me.  I find myself able to experience An Abundance of Joy, even in the face of this very uncomfortable cold.

Can Yoga cure the common cold?  No, but it sure can help with the symptoms.

~

See also

Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas.

Yoga Demystified:
Poems, Musings, and Related Articles.

Gita in a Nutshell:
Big Ideas & Best Quotations.

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4 Comments
  1. Bob, very nice little article… Here's one more suggestion, which is also part of both yoga and ayurveda: fasting with lemon water (and ginger and honey, if you wish). Fasting for health and spirituality has been part of yoga for centuries. In Sanskrit fasting is called Upavasa, which means to be closer to God. In other words, fasting may increase and prolong your experience of Pure Awareness.

    So, by not indulging in food, we can spend more time on spiritual pursuits. Moreover, fasting will cleanse the body of unwanted toxins, or ama in ayurveda, which is part of the reason why the cold took hold in the body in the first place as well as because the body is too acidic. Lemon water will actually make the body more alkaline and also cleanse kidneys and liver of toxins and the ginger will help the digestive fire and the honey will give energy.

  2. Ramesh is right Bob… add that and copious amounts of vitamin C and a cart load of twists and back arches….EXPELLIAMUS!

    Embrace the common cold as your body naturally detoxing and letting go (don't forget your neti pot!) :o)

  3. Dealing with the first cold in two years right now! Enjoyed this! I also focused on some chakra work ( 5th when my throat was really sore, 6th for sinus pain and pressure). All I can tell you for sure is head down poses aren't so great with congestion. Can't imagine a headstand right now!

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  1. 10 Creative Ways to Kick Your Hangover. ~ Jolee McBreen | elephant journal

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