Healthy Beginnings

‘Keep Calm and Yoga On’ this cold and flu season

Kate Midcalf recommends yoga as a great way to strengthen the immune system. Photo: Macu Binette Photography

Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. It coincides with people coming back indoors after a season spent outdoors, and, contrary to popular belief, it is not caused by the cold weather, but exacerbated by it.

All those germs and viruses live and multiply indoors and get their kicks out of being passed around and around that closed environment. Once one of those little guys comes to live in your body, your immune system sets off the alarms and goes into high alert mode. Invader! Invader! Invader! Can you hear the alarms being sounded?

So, what can you do to keep your immune system functioning well, and avoid the “Attack of the Flu Bugs”? A lot, actually!

Beginning with what everyone knows (we know it isn’t whether we have the knowledge, it’s how we feel about the knowledge that counts), we should:

  • Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily (no, two 32-ounce beers don’t count!)
  • Sleep between 6-8 hours every night (turn off those devices!)
  • Eat your greens (not the moldy leftovers from the back of your fridge, either!)
  • If your diet is less than ideal, consider supplements (you know the rules — talk to your doc first!)
  • Follow basic hygiene practices (wash your hands A LOT!)
  • My favorite, do yoga and meditate (I’m a yoga teacher, you had to know I was going to recommend this!)

Why do I include the last item? Because we want to strengthen the immune system before we get sick.

When sick, antibiotics and other medicine (allopathic and complementary) can help the body recover from disease, but I want you to allow your bodily environment to become so inhospitable to those germy invaders that they can’t even get a start!

Lack of sleep, poor nutrition and life stress all lead to a weakened immune system and vulnerability to said invaders.

Yoga is one of the most effective and time-tested immunity boosters that can lead to a healthy, illness-free body. Yoga lowers stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system while also stimulating the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body.

Meditation calms the mind and can contribute to deeper, more regulated sleep, which is crucial for wellness. In fact, sleep is one of the most important factors in healing and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Warming poses help clear congestion. Inversions (poses in which your head is below your heart, or, as in the case of legs-up-the-wall pose, your legs are above your head and heart) help drain any congestion so it doesn’t build up. Restorative postures help build ojas (vigor), which is considered the protective buffer of your immune system.

A well-rounded yoga practice will include all of these poses. Where can you learn them? From a qualified teacher, of course.

Reverend Dr. Kathaleen Martin-Midcalf is the founder and master teacher at The Yoga Pearl in Sparks, Nevada. For more information, call 775-750-7610 or visit