Ask the Expert: Attending Yoga Class with a Cold

Our expert weighs in on whether or not you should attend a yoga class if you're feeling under the weather.
Yoga Class, Retreat, upward facing dog

Answers to your questions about health, nutrition, anatomy, and more.

Q: I’ve heard that yoga can improve immunity—but should I go to class when I have a cold or the flu?

A. No. From a public-health perspective, attending class while sick can spread your illness to classmates. But if you’re feeling up to it, practice gentle yoga at home, including pranayama (breathing practices). A small 2013 Norwegian study suggests that a combination of gentle yoga and meditation may support your immune system. And there’s also evidence that asana has effects on various markers that help your immune system function better, such as reducing the stress hormone cortisol. So though we don’t have specific research telling us that yoga gets us over sickness faster, it’s worth a shot!

Victoria Maizes, MD
Executive director of the University of Arizona’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

See also Foods Your Should Eat When You Have a Cold