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Wednesday, 15 January 2014 09:08

Cough-Curing Yoga

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I've never much been into yoga. I know it can be good for your health, but it's never been something I've been passionate about. Yes, I've dabbled in and out of it to try to understand what people love about it, but it's just never been my thing.

I can see how it would be good for flexibility, strengthening, toning, and stretching. It can also supposedly be relaxing as you follow your breath. I've never mastered inhaling and exhaling comfortably while flowing in and out of the yoga poses. I find myself having to take two inhale/exhale cycles to every one that I'm instructed to have. It's also supposed to be meditative, but if I'm going to meditate, I'd rather be sitting still and not working so hard getting in and out of poses. Many people say it's even spiritual for them. I have a friend who said it helped her get through the loss of her husband. I don't yet see how that happens.

There are so many different types of yoga: Bikram, Yin (or Deep), Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, and Power, to name a few. I've tried Bikram from a Groupon offer. After the first few times, I had zero desire to finish the remaining classes. There are way too many people crowded into a very small, hot (105+ degrees!) space with a lot of flinging sweat and sweat pools in too-near proximity for my taste. It's also the same routine every time, and I like variety. For me, Bikram is just not a lot of fun and I'm all about doing things that are fun!

I've also tried Yin Yoga which is my favorite. With this style yoga, you hold one position for 3-5 minutes and use a lot of equipment (bolsters, sand bags) to deepen the stretch. It feels calming and restorative. I went to this class somewhat regularly, but unfortunately it was cancelled, so now I don't do any yoga.

I do have a few yoga DVDs at home that I've bought over the years trying to get into a practice. This week my husband and I are on vacation in Hawaii and he decided to bring one of our DVDs to try to do it every morning. He has even less of a practice than I do, but he thought perhaps we'd have more success doing it without the time demands we have at home. Personally, I'd rather just get up and run in the morning, but my husband wanted us to do yoga first and then run. He thinks it helps his runs because it loosens him up. As much as I'd be fine not doing it, I hate to miss out on anything, so I've been doing the yoga with him.

While I've been on vacation (and a few days before we left), I've been a little under the weather. I've had a hoarse voice and nagging cough that flares up at night. I don't feel sick (maybe just a little more tired than usual), but my voice was practically non-existent for a few days and every night my cough has been waking me up around 2am. I have to get up for an hour (it seemed better if I was upright) and take a few lozenges before trying to go back to sleep.

Yesterday morning, my husband decides to play a different yoga routine than we've been doing. Midway through, I am doing a certain pose and I begin to cough uncontrollably. I'm not sure what the position is called that causes this attack. For those in the know, you might be able to understand if I describe it.

I started in Warrior pose (a lunge with my left leg forward and my left arm out in front and right one in back). I then twist to the right, put my left arm to the ground, and my right arm high in the air (see photo). During the session, but particularly in this position, It was hard for me to breathe because of the congestion in my chest. I'm trying to do the inhale and exhale as instructed but I can't get enough air in to last long enough.

I'm coughing so bad that I have to get out of my pose and run to get a lozenge. I'm wondering what the heck is this yoga doing to me—it's making me worse! At this point, I have the sudden need to grab a tissue because my nose is running. After about a minute of bodily mayhem, the episode is done and I head back to the yoga video.

Fast forward a few hours later and I realize that my voice is no longer hoarse. I feel like I have more energy. My throat feels clear. The true test, I know, will be nighttime.

Well, it's morning now and I did not have one cough through the night. Considering how bad my cough has been for the past few nights, this is a big deal and feels quite miraculous. I feel completely well. I am absolutely convinced that there was something about that yoga pose (and possibly the flow leading up to it) that cured me. I don't know how it happened physiologically, but it happened.

My husband is still sleeping now, but as soon as he wakes up, I'm ready to put in the DVD and see what other health benefits I can get from this thing called yoga. I will definitely be turning to yoga rather than throat lozenges the next time I have a cough!

Many of my friends, clients, and Four Quadrant Living readers are strong advocates and practicers of yoga. I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a yoga practice? What motivates you to do yoga? What is your favorite style of yoga? How regularly do you practice? What health benefits does it give you? Chime in below and help this new yoga believer see what's possible.

Please share your comments and questions below.


Update: I have heard from several people on what pose I was doing when the coughing fit happened. They say it was Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose).

________

Dina Colman, MA, MBA is an author, healthy living coach, and founder of Four Quadrant Living. Dina has a private practice helping clients live healthier and happier lives. Her Amazon Top 100 book, Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life, guides readers to make healthy living a part of their daily lives, leading to greater health, vitality, and happiness. Contact Dina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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