Even though Singapore has warm weather all year round, we still have flu seasons. I was recently struck by a flu that also took down large parts of the ANZA community.
I never get sick. That’s my storyline. Ask my friends – there they are coughing sniffling, feeling awful in the middle of that dreadful international city flu season, I am still smiling.
Consequently, the rare times I am sick I tend to catch a large case of ‘man flu’. At those times, my friends wish that guns were their civil right.
Now this storyline of rare colds is not genetic. Over the years, I have gathered remedies from mine and friend’s family closets, listened to flu bound people in pubs tell me the remedies their mother, father, crazy aunt gave them. My great grandma’s lemon and honey tea, used for everything from hangover to flus, is truly the fountain of life for people with the flu.
This time though, my great grandma’s tea did absolutely nothing. Zip, zero, da nada. Neither did the other ones I had in toolkit (which like I said, is a pretty impressive one). My friends commenced negotiations with an international arms dealer for a machine gun.
I won’t take antibiotics, sticking to the belief that when the big bug hits, I intend to be one of the few left standing to bring our species back on Earth.
‘I had to broaden my cure brief beyond those things we ingest through our mouth.’
I looked to my yoga, and the community in which I practice and teach.
Below is a list, helpfully compiled through discussion with other yoginis, of natural born flu killers:
Running a fever – Breathe – you know the thing you do about 20,000 times a day? Not just air; us yogis and scientists know it also is energy for our body. Before you reach for the panadol, close the right nostril gently with one finger; focus on breathing in and out of the left one, for at least 2 minutes. Our left nostril activates our cooling, calming energy in our body. And the reverse if you are suffering the chills – take a warm bath, rug up, close the left nostril, breathe in and out of the right nostril, for at least two minutes.
Sinusitis, blocked nose – blocked and stuffy nose? Prepare warm water with salt in a neti pot (you get them from Mustafa), lean forward over a sink, turn your head to one side, and squeeze it gently up through one nostril until it runs out the other one. Do your clearest nostril first, this will help you identify how much solution you might need to push through the blocked one before you have success. Do this either early in the morning and/or before you go to bed.
Chest cough – like you smoke 2 packs a day? And you don’t of course (good yogi!!) Practice yoga poses like pigeon, low lunge (aka baby dragon in yin), and badda konasana, google yoga hip openers for others. Hold them for at least 2 minutes – in TCM, the hips hold the key to our sinuses, the producers of all that phlegm that ends up sitting at the top of our bronchial tubes.
To clear phlegm, forward folds of all kinds, head to knees, preferably standing, legs together or legs apart. Or do the ‘cold killer’ pose, known as eka buja swasistasana, a shoulder and chest opener, one of the ANZA Wanderingyogis will show you, although you will probably wish they hadn’t.
Not Sleeping or sleeping too much – I just wanted to sleep for about two weeks, at least 4 extra hours every day, beyond my usual 8 hours. Others in the same flu boat as myself have not been able to sleep enough.
Our daily life has conditioned us to feel good when we hit our goals. The chemical we produce to ‘reward’ ourselves, is dopamine. Too much of something good can also be bad, if we keep performing and performing, our body stops making melatonin (our sleep chemical and serotonin – our other feel good calm chemical). There goes the sleep. Try Yoga nidra if you can’t get enough sleep, but be patient – it takes about 3 days to work. Start out with 15 minutes and try for 30 minutes. You will never need global pharma sleep aids ever again.
There are loads of online free videos with music at frequencies that calm the brain waves, and produce the necessary melatonin and serotonin for the sleep our body craves. My diehard Personality A type clients swear by them.
Sleeping too much? Test is if you are waking up from sleep, still feeling sleepy, a little dizzy. Come and do a yin class with us – yin will gently rewire your energy circuits, and that afternoon nap after it will be the one to break the flu.
Energy Swings? – Coming out of a flu, one minute you feel great, the next lousy. This is NOT the time to start training for that 5km fun run next week. But it is time to take a yoga class. Not vinyasa, not power yoga. Yoga where the ancient traditions of pranayama, energy locks, compression and extension of the spine and body organs are practiced with gentle acceptance of the body. I can hear the howls from all over India, but truly, try Bikram yoga if you can handle a hot room, or if heat is not your thing, a good old-fashioned hatha yoga class (I may have made amends with my Indian yogi friends with this last comment). You will definitely fast track to the end of the flu.
I used all of the above. My flu time was about the same maybe even a little shorter than those who took off to the doctor, had the antibiotics. More important was the ‘quality’ of the flu – Taoists talk about black, white and grey days. My flu time was a lot of grey days, maybe two black days, and off white days in the last week. Not the same for those who didn’t try the natural born flu killers. About 3 times as many black days, with a smattering of grey days and nothing even close to white days until well after the flu was gone.
Add some or all of these suggestions to your flu killer repertoire. And stand with me and the other ANZA Wanderingyogis who have been hit by this flu bug, with deeper respect and gratitude for all things yoga.
A shorter version of this article appeared in the April edition of the ANZA Singapore monthly magazine. Interested in ANZA? Click here to find out more..