A couple weeks after ringing in the New Year, many of us at Yoga International suddenly felt a lot less on-top-of-the-world and a lot more under-the-weather. No surprise, since the flu has made its presence known pretty aggressively this season. If you’ve been feeling the same way—with a fever, a flu, or some kind of chest-eating, sinus-attacking monster that makes alternate-nostril breathing impossible …
You’re not alone.
According to New York magazine, the entire state of New York is currently in a state of flu emergency. Want comfort? Try a healthful spoonful of the following advice, collected from some of Yoga International’s best holistic-health experts and contributors.
Take the edge off: To get rid of whatever nasty congestion lurks within, Vasant Lad recommends giving yourself at least one (if not many) DIY ginger steam treatments: all you need is a towel, a teaspoon of powdered or fresh ginger, and a pint of heated water.
>> Get full instructions (and additional tips) here.
If that doesn’t sound inviting, substitute a couple drops from a bottle of eucalyptus oil instead. It’ll do wonders. Or you can just grab your eucalyptus-scented Dr. Bronner’s “dish soap, bath soap and laundry detergent in one extra-large, fun-sized container”—that you keep at the ready.
No time to bathe? Experiment with a similar technique to this during your morning shower. Just make the water hot and the steam billowing. Then add a couple of drops of essential oil near the drain of your shower before stepping in—and breathe.
Change up your practice. Fever and flu and their attendant upper respiratory infections are bad enough on their own, but to add insult to injury, they’re almost always accompanied by such sidekicks as nightmare aches and pains and sleepless nights.
So don’t go cranking up your yoga practice after a 24-hour or even multi-day onslaught from any of these guys, take it easy! You can help your body fully recover by opting for a few restorative poses instead of your normal routine. As senior-level Iyengar teacher Marla Apt puts it, for individuals feeling more than a little exhausted, “a dynamic practice, like a double espresso, can be depleting, despite its initial invigorating jolt.”
Warm up your diet. There’s no sure-fire replacement for chicken noodle soup for vegetarians. Just take one look at lentil soup: it’s usually either somewhat green or brownish, and chunky—not all that appetizing when you have the flu.
You can still ease a winter chill or nurse an ailing stomach with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and cardamom. A spice like ginger promotes healthy digestion and, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner Janet Webb Lee, a spice like cinnamon circulates blood, relieves pain, and helps rid the body of pathological fluids. Plus—they’re the perfect complement to a bowl of hearty carrot soup.
Prevent a relapse. A daily dose of Vitamin D can help put the kibosh on future outbreaks of mucus-related illness and discomfort, but how much do you take? That answer’s not so simple, according to James Keough, but chances are, it’s way more than you think.
Recommendations can vary, especially depending on factors like age, skin pigmentation, sun exposure and location. But the actual dose you take might not be as essential a factor as the type of vitamin D. Keough says when buying a supplement, make sure the label says Vitamin D3, which is the form of the vitamin produced by the skin. It’s definitely not vegan (all D3 comes from animals) but Keough notes that it’s much more bio-available than its D2, plant-based counterpart.
Do you have any health tips? What are your favorite comfort foods? Let us know in the comments.