The first few weeks of this new school year have flown by, and with them the last warm days of summer. The arrival of autumn brings with it its own special characteristics: a sense of impending jumpers and coats, of enforced cosiness from increased indoor living, and of course the inevitable onslaught of coughs and colds.
To counter this seasonal shift my classic hatha yoga class on Wednesday (27th September) saw us work through a variety of chest-opening poses, each moving closer to an ultimate yoga asana towards the end of the class (more on this later).
One of Wednesday’s chest-openers was Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana, an energizing backbend that opens up the lungs enabling better breathing despite bronchial congestion, and releases any viral spinal stiffness or tension from the tailbone to the base of the skull (yeah, take that, chesty cough and endless snot!).
For the purpose of easing the symptoms of a tight chest due to coughs and colds, pay attention to these particular aspects of Cobra Pose:
- Roll and retract the shoulders (in anatomical terms, via circumduction of the ball and socket joint of each shoulder)
- Bring the shoulders back and down (depress them), so that the shoulder blades (scapulae) are brought closer together on your back, thereby
- Bending back (hyperextending) the spine and
- Bringing your chest forward and lifting it towards the chin (elevating the sternum).
Got that? Didn’t think so, so here’s a quick, extremely amateur sketch!
Remember I mentioned I designed Wednesday’s class to include a carefully selected collection of asanas, each a positional variation exploring chest-opening, each pose a step in the journey towards one of yoga’s ultimate examples of the theme?
Well, here it is, and it’s another dynamic backbend, the rather more extreme Camel Pose or Ustrasana. For those of you who have injuries or are less experienced yogis, worry not: Camel Pose can always be modified with yoga blocks and bolsters to become a gentler, less intense, and more supportive asana.
So, can you see how Cobra Pose might relate to Camel Pose? And could you apply the specific chest-opening instructions above for Cobra to Camel?
In tonight’s deliciously relaxing Sunday Yin/ Restorative Colour Yoga class I will continue to address which yoga asanas are helpful when we inevitably succumb to coughs, colds and seasonal sickness.
So, come and enjoy the perfect excuse to enjoy lovely long stretches while being supported by yoga blocks and cossetted by bolsters, proving that yup, if you search hard enough you’ll find a positive side to everything – even snot!