OM-azing: 5 best yoga poses for promoting healthy inflammation
MegaFood | Oct. 2020
Inflammation is often seen as a problem but, in reality, healthy inflammation is your body’s way of responding to stress, from an insect bite to an injury. You can support a healthy inflammation response through smart lifestyle choices like eating more turmeric (YUM!) and doing more yoga (OM!).
Annie Wagoner, a certified yoga teacher and certified health coach, gives us the low-down on the best yoga poses to aid a healthy inflammation response - Annie also shares a recipe for lemon-ginger turmeric tea. So unroll your yoga mat, put the kettle on & let’s get started.
1. Supine Spinal Twist / Supta Matsyendrasana
This restorative pose generates flexibility in your spine and massages internal organs - while promoting a healthy inflammation response - by wringing out tension and pain from your body. Tip: Do this pose upon waking, while still in bed, to help your blood flow and your mind awaken - it’s a nurturing way to ease into your day!
How to Practice Supine Twist:
*Lie on your back and hug your knees in towards your chest
*Extend your arms in a “T” shape in line with your shoulders
*As you exhale, gently drop both knees to one side, with the option to place a yoga block, folded blanket or bolster under your knees for more comfort
*Gaze in the same or opposite direction of your knees, depending on how your neck feels
*Hold for 7-10 breaths on each side
2. Child's Pose / Balasana
This gentle inversion pose stretches your back, ankles & hips while naturally relieving tension & fatigue, helping to promote a healthy inflammation response. Tip: Humming stimulates the vagus nerve - which has a role in reducing stress - so try to hum or chant during this pose to intensify the benefits.
How to Practice Child’s Pose:
*Come to a tabletop position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips over your knees (if you have sore knees, cushion them with a folded blanket)
*Bring your big toes toward one another while keeping your knees wide
*On an exhale, ease your hips back towards your heels, allowing your torso to rest between your knees with your arms extended forward or wrapped around your body
*After arriving in Child’s Pose, bring awareness to your breath and take 3 deep, cleansing belly breaths, inhaling deeply through the nose, exhaling and releasing out of the mouth
3. Wide-Legged Forward Bend / Prasarita Padottanasana I
This standing, forward-fold pose lengthens the spine and stretches the neck, back, hamstrings, calves & ankles - it’s an easy energy boost that helps combat fatigue, reduce cortisol & calm your nervous system, promoting a healthy inflammation response. Tip: As you practice this pose, up your relaxation by visualizing tension pouring out of the crown of your head as you exhale.
How to Practice Wide-Legged Forward Bend:
*From standing, step the feet wide apart and as close to parallel as feels comfortable
*Lift your inner arches by drawing the inner ankles up & firm the outer edges of your feet and big toes into the floor
*Bring your hands to your hips; exhale and lean forward maintaining the length through your front torso
*Once your torso is about parallel to the floor, extend your arms straight and press your fingertips into the floor (or yoga blocks) directly below your shoulders for support
*Push your pelvis upward and, with support from your arms, slowly lower your torso to the floor and release your head; keep your chest open by focusing on drawing your shoulder blades together
*Hold for 5-10 breaths
*To come out of this pose, bring your hands back to your hips, inhale and lift back up as you press into your feet
4. Warrior II / Virabhadrasana II
This fierce yet gentle pose strengthens the legs and improves circulation to enhance energy, endurance & balance while promoting a healthy inflammation response. Tip: This is an especially effective pose to do in the morning after sipping lemon-ginger turmeric tea (just mix warm water with lemon, turmeric, ginger, a dash of cayenne and/or raw honey) - this is an extremely alkalinizing & hydrating tonic since turmeric benefits include supporting a healthy inflammation response.
How to Practice Warrior II:
*From standing, step or lightly jump your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, left foot to back of mat; raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades drawn down the back, palms down
*Turn your left foot slightly in, your right foot out to the right 90 degrees & align the right heel with the left heel; firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward so that the center of the knee cap is in line with the center of your right ankle
*Keeping your core and quads engaged, bend your right knee and shift your gaze on the fingers of the right hand or on the floor
*Continue to stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor, while being mindful not to lean your torso over your right quad; maintain length on both sides of your body, shoulders directly over the pelvis and steadily ground down through your feet
*Hold for 7-10 breaths on each side
5. Legs Up the Wall Pose / Viparita Karani
This inversion pose is nourishing, calming & balancing for the mind, body & soul - some say it’s the only yoga pose you need to change your life! Deeply restorative, it can help reduce stress and benefit sleep, promoting a healthy inflammation response. Tip: As you wind down for the night, follow this pose with an epsom salt bath to set the stage for deep sleep.
How to Practice Legs Up the Wall Pose:
*Grab a folded blanket, yoga bolster or pillow and place it about 5-6 inches away from the wall (further if you’re stiffer, closer if you’re more flexible)
*Sit sideways with your lower back on the edge of the support, and gently swing or walk your legs up the wall as you lower your shoulders and head down to your mat or the floor
*Align your lower back/sacrum on top of the support, and allow your sitting bones to drop slightly between the edge of the support and the wall
*Once you’re comfortable, relax your arms out to your sides and allow your palms to roll open and face the ceiling
*Stay in the pose for anywhere from 5-15 minutes
*When you’re ready to come out, press your feet into the wall, lift your hips and remove the support from beneath you; lower your hips back down to the floor and gently roll over to your side; stay here for a few breaths and then slowly push yourself back up to a seated position on an exhale
Note: As an alternative, try the Legs Up pose (pictured): Lie on your back, extend your arms to your sides, lift your legs & allow your palms to roll open and face the ceiling; hold the pose for several minutes
Our special thanks to Annie Wagoner for her OM-azing insight on how to use yoga to promote healthy inflammation. In addition to being a certified yoga teacher and certified health coach, Annie is a certified personal trainer, reiki master & founder of Core Nourishment. We’d also like to thank photographer Heidi Haseltine for her images of Annie in action!
Now that you’re all stretched out, give our turmeric supplements a try!