Okay, that subject line might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am starting to actually believe that yoga can cure or at least relieve some mundane illnesses (read: colds, maybe flus), and not just by reducing stress. Not to diminish the importance of stress-reduction, but I think there is more going on here.
Here is my anecdotal evidence:
Item One: Last year I felt myself starting to get sick. It felt like it was going to be a doozy of a cold/flu. I did not want to get sick. I spent the night I started feeling ill doing a long, slow yin practice. In the morning I felt fine.
Item Two: Last week I was definitely getting sick. I had definite cold symptoms, and some nausea mixed in. Unfortunately, I also had a full week of teaching yoga, including THREE classes the day after these symptoms took hold, so there was no time to recuperate. Surprisingly, after each yoga class that day, I started to feel better and better, until I was left with nothing but a sniffly nose to deal with over the next few days.
Not the strongest evidence, I know, and the only information I can find online about the link between yoga and healing sickness is not exactly the reliable, scientific variety of information.
So, stress-reduction aside, what is it about yoga that can heal sickness?
Here’s my theory:
You know how when you get sick, one of the symptoms is usually sore, tight muscles? What if that soreness is a result of built-up toxins that are making you sick? What if stretching releases those toxins? What if that release is coupled with reduced stress and increased oxygen flow to your body through deep breathing? Couldn’t that make your body better able to fight off those nasty germs?
I am planning on researching this further, and will report back any reliable findings I come across. In the meantime, I suggest some yoga the next time you feel sick!