Yoga etiquette for when you're sick

Can I practice if I feel under the weather? Should I practice?

If you’re sick, a session in the hot room may seem like just the ticket to clear out congestion and soothe body aches, but it’s not necessarily recommended. In the same way that Savasana is best observed in complete stillness so the body can repair itself most effectively, rest is the single best physical activity you can engage in when you’re sick. Do not come to class when you are contagious, out of respect for your fellow yogis and your own struggling immune system. With a cold, you’re most contagious in the first 2-3 days, and still contagious as long as you have mucus draining. With flu, the mucus rule also applies, as well as consideration of body temperature: a person recovering from the flu is generally considered to not be contagious 24 hours after their fever has broken and remained normal.

When you’re beginning to feel better and want to ease back into your practice, follow the following “below the neck, above the neck symptoms” guidelines , which are of course no substitute for medical attention from a qualified healthcare practitioner:

  • Identify where your symptoms are.
    • Generally speaking, as long as you are not contagious, you can practice if your symptoms are from the neck up, such as headaches and mild, lingering congestion. If your symptoms are below the neck, for instance upset stomach, hacking cough and body aches, you’re not ready to practice just yet. Consider something light just to get you moving that you can quit as soon as you get tired, like walking. ~Mayo Clinic
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap before and after class.
  • If you need to sneeze or cough during class, do so in a tissue. Grab some kleenex before class begins if you anticipate some leakage, and never put your used tissue on the studio floor. Place it between your mat and towel until you can throw it away. Please clean up after yourself, do not leave used tissue on the carpet / around the studio.
  • Meet your body where it is in its recovery. Don’t push too hard. In fact, Bikram recommends working your hardest in the standing series and taking it easy on the floor for yogis returning after an illness.

~ Ray

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