5 Yoga Poses to Relieve Colds & Congestion

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When your head is aching from sinus congestion and your nose is plugged up, going to yoga class is probably not the best option. Rather than completely neglecting your yoga practice, opt for a minisequence at home to open up your chest and improve your circulation.

If you are looking for a little more of a workout, simply complete a few rounds of Sun Salutations between each congestion-soothing posture. After your cold-busting workout check out this juice recipe for cold & sinus relief. It's the perfect cold-weather combo.

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Bridge Pose:  Bridge posture is a mild yet effective way to open your chest, in addition to sending fresh blood to your head.

What to Do:

Set up strong: When you're setting up the pose, lay a strong foundation. Lie supine (lying down with face upward) on the floor. Take a few deep breaths to get grounded and relaxed. Bend your knees, plant your feet flat on the floor, and make sure the knees are hips-distance apart.

Align it right: As you push your pelvis up and forward, your knees should be directly over your heels. If you want to make sure you have the right distance between your shoulders and your feet, here's a great rule of thumb: when you reach for your heels, your fingertips should just graze the back of your feet. Keep your arms extended on either side of your body with palms facing down. If you want to take it up a notch, clasp your hands under your pelvis, and as you come into the full expression of the pose, roll your shoulders in toward one another.

Stop the squeeze: Release your butt! Unlike some Pilates or exercise variations of a bridge, there should be no serious tension or strain in your tush when you're lifting up your hips toward the ceiling. With that said, be sure to keep your thighs strong and engaged in order to get those hips even higher.

Face forward: Make sure you don't look around when you're in bridge. Your chin should be slightly lifted away from your sternum for proper alignment while keeping your gaze forward to slightly up toward the ceiling. I know it can be tempting, but if you check out your neighbors on either side, you could run the risk of hurting your neck.

Come down clean: When you're coming out of bridge pose, release your clasped hands, and slowly bring your body back to the Earth. Also, be sure keep your head facing forward until you're all the way down. After Bridge, I love to bring my knees in toward my chest for a squeeze, and then roll my knees slowly from side to side for a minimassage. It's the perfect counterpose to give your lower back some love.

Hold for 30 seconds to a minute: and then release on an exhalation while rolling the spine, one vertebra at a time, onto the mat. If you feel like you can handle something more advanced, then try Wheel Pose.

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Camel Pose: Camel will open up your back and chest even further while clearing out your passageways. If you can't reach the heels of your feet or it's too intense, then place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing down, and bend back until you feel the stretch. If not completed properly, this pose can be very strenuous on your back, so don't overexert yourself.

What to Do:

Kneel at the front of your mat, keeping your knees under your hips. Look back and make sure your shins, ankles, and feet are parallel to each other.

Put both hands on your hips, and gently arch back, just beginning to warm up your lower back and quads.

When you're ready, reach your right hand back toward your right heel, and then your left toward your left heel. Your hands are there for balancing support, so don't lean all your weight into them. Try to shift weight forward into your knees, which will also increase the stretch you feel in your belly and chest.

Lower your head behind you and stay here for five breaths.

Hold the pose for five breaths. Come up slowly and sit on your heels. Lean forward, releasing your lower back into Child's Pose.

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Plow Pose: Plow Pose is considered therapeutic for sinusitis, but this pose might feel uncomfortable if your back or hamstrings are really tight. If so, you can always bend your knees and place them next to your ears as a variation.

What to Do: Either fall back into Plow Pose from Shoulder Stand, or come into the pose like this:

Begin lying flat on your back on a mat or rug. Place your arms by your sides, palms facing down.

Press firmly into your palms, bend your knees, and bring both legs over your head. If you can, straighten your knees and touch your toes to the ground.

Interlace your fingers and then gently rock your weight side to side a little so you can bring your shoulder blades closer together. Keep your head and neck still.

Think about bringing your hips over your shoulders, and lengthening your spine as much as possible. If it's difficult for you to take deep breaths (bigger breasted women may have this problem), just shift your hips away from your head a few inches.

Stay here for five or more breaths, and then you can slowly bend your knees and shift your hips down to the floor, hugging your knees into your chest. Stay here for a minute or so, letting your neck and spine adjust.

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Bow Pose: Bow Pose stretches your neck, chest, stomach, and back. Opening your neck and chest will lead to better breathing. This pose is great for relaxation, as well, if you are feeling restless and unable to sleep due to your cold symptoms. This pose creates a lot of tension, which, when released, will make you feel ready to enter a deep slumber.  

What to Do:

Lie flat on your stomach, pressing your belly button into the ground.

Bend your knees and grab onto the outside edge of your right ankle, and then your left.

Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet. Now lift your feet up as high as you can, and shift your weight forward so that you're resting on your naval instead of on your pubic bone.

Hold for five deep breaths and then slowly lower and lie flat. Turn your head to one side and shake your hips from side to side to release your lower back.

Repeat again or relax in Child's Pose.

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Headstand: Headstand is one of the most difficult yoga postures, yet it is incredibly energizing and detoxing to let stagnant blood rush from your toes, filter through your heart, and drain into your head.

What to Do: This sequence will give you step-by-step instructions to help you work up into Headstand. If the full posture is too much, then simply try one of the variations. Hold your Headstand variations for five breaths or longer. If you fall, then try once more and call it quits for the day, so you don't place too much pressure on your neck and head.