4 POSES THAT REDUCE INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is an uncomfortable and down right irritating experience, and if you haven’t come across this unfortunate encounter count your lucky stars! It might just start off as a dim burning sensation (other times UNBAREABLE) that either disables or makes your usual range of movement uncomfortable. You might even experience it as subtle numbness, tingling or tightness – it’s different for all bodies.
Ok so what exactly is going on? Inflammation is part of the body’s immune system that’s gotten a little out of hand, initially it was trying to self-protect against stress, harmful irritants and damaged cells. Teeny weenie pro-inflammatory hormones in your body call out for your white blood cells to come and clear out infection and damaged tissue, leading to greater blood flow to the area commonly resulting in redness, heat, irritation, wearing down cartilage, and swelling of the joint lining. The good news is it is a sign of the bodies healing process beginning and it is an essential part of this development.
Having dealt with a ten month battle of hip bursitis (inflammation of two little jelly sacks that prevent friction around your ball and socket joint) I know all to well about how much of a burden inflammation is. At first approach my doctor immediately suggested a steroid injection into my hip, it sounded a little extreme to me and I asked what else I could do? I didn’t want to rely on consuming unnatural chemicals every time a bit of inflammation occurred! I needed this healed and fast. Between teaching yoga and dancing I didn’t have time for this set-back… not to mention I could barely sit comfortably in a chair! The other suggestions were ibuprofen, ice packs and rest. None of which were an answer I wanted to hear. It was up to me, I went to physio which worked like magic… for about 9 hours, by the next morning I was back to square one. My schedule and pocket could not afford anything beyond a weekly visit. Then I realized the answer was right in front of me this whole time, my old faithful yoga for some immediate relief.
Thankfully a regular yoga practice is incredibly receptive when it comes to reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system, switching out a few of my more strenuous asanas and focusing on restorative and limbering movements the results were miraculous. Yes, the first five minutes of my practice were pushing horror for my body but once the lymphatic fluids got flowing, I felt almost as good as new.
Here are a few simple poses to help alleviate inflammation:
1. Supine Twist (Supata Jathara Parivartanasana)
- Brings flexibility to the spinal muscles and releases tension in the lower back and hips.
- Massages the internal organs
- Improves digestion, promotes better circulation, and reduces stiffness in the hips
- Lie on your back, arms reached out to the side at shoulder height with palms facing down.
- Inhale – bend the knees and draw the thighs as close to the chest as possible, flexing the feet.
- Exhale lowering the knees to touch the inside of the left elbow joint whilst turning the head to the right side.
- Repeat to the other side.
2. Legs up wall (Parita Karani)
- Increases circulation of blood and lymph to the upper body
- Believed to balance the endocrine system
- Believed to benefit digestion
- Relieves mild lower back pain
- Sit with the right buttock touching the wall with the knees bent.
- Lower body to the left side and roll your legs up the wall as you come onto the elbows, as you straighten your lower body completely to the ground, lie on your back and place your arms alongside your body.
- Straighten the legs up the wall with the buttocks pressing into the wall.
- Take the hands onto the abdomen.
- Stay and breathe, focus on quality of breath.
3. Bridge Pose (DVIPADA PITHAM)
- Strengthens the gluteals, hamstrings and upper back muscles
- Beneficial for thoracic kyphosis
- Creates a cranial sacrum pump promoting the circulation of spinal fluid, thyroid, parathyroid glands compressed increasing the circulation of blood and lymph
- Stimulates the Central Nervous System (CNS)
- Lie on your back, with arms alongside the body pressing hands lightly into the floor, exhale and draw your navel into the floor.
- Bend both knees and place heels close to the buttocks, feet hip width apart.
- Inhale and press the feet and the hands into the floor, lift the hips off the floor and bring the chest towards the chin.
- Exhale into the lower abdomen, releasing one vertebra at a time and come slowly back to the supine position.
- Release from the posture.
4. Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
- Rests the abdominal organs
- Reduces excess fluid and swelling in the feet and legs
- Increases the circulation of blood to the thymus gland
- Lie on your back with your palms facing the floor, arms alongside the body and chin tucked into chest
- Exhale, draw the lower abdomen back and up to create pelvic stability. Raise both legs, keeping knees bent, allowing the hips to come off the floor and extend over the head. Bring the hands to the back to provide support for the pose.
- Inhale and straighten both legs, not allowing them to drop towards the head.
- Exhale bend the knees bringing them towards to the chest and gently release by rolling through the spine and lowering the legs to the floor.