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Inspired by Ayurveda, this yoga sequence for your immune system is designed to keep you healthy during cold and flu season. It contains both heated poses to help clear congestion, and soothing, restorative postures to build ojas, or vigor, which is often considered the protective buffer of your immune system.
An immune-boosting yoga sequence
Before you begin, gather your props: blankets, bolster, block, eye pillow. In the following poses, enjoy 3 to 5 breaths unless otherwise noted.
Place a folded blanket at the top of a bolster. Sit between your heels with the bolster behind your tailbone. Lie back on the bolster, resting your head on the blanket. Turn your palms up. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Slowly sit up, and then stand up with your feet about 4 feet apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back, and straighten your arms. Fold forward, lifting your arms up toward the ceiling. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana (Revolved Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Unclasp of your fingers. Place your left hand on a block at a comfortable height in line with your sternum. Twist to the right. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Do both sides.
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Slowly come to standing. Bring your feet hip-width apart. Interlace your fingers and extend your arms up. Lift your heels, balancing on the balls of your feet. After 5 breaths, lower your heels and your arms.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana III (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)
Shift weight to your left foot. Lift your right knee and interlace fingers underneath. Grasp your right foot with your left hand. Twist right and extend your right arm. Exit the twist, returning to standing.
Virabhadrhasana III (Warrior III)
Interlace your fingers behind your back, and extend your arms. Shift weight onto your left leg, lean forward and lift your right leg to hip height. Press your knuckles up to the sky. Repeat poses 4 to 6 on second side.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Fold forward from your hips, and place your hands on the floor. Evenly distribute weight in your feet. Extend up through your sitting bones and down through your crown.
Step or hop your feet back into Plank Pose. Align your hands directly under your shoulders, and spread your fingers wide. Firm your thighs, and gently draw your belly in toward your spine to engage your core.
Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
Shift weight to your right hand, and roll onto the outside of your right foot. Extend your left arm along your left ear. Lift your left hip and arch your side. Breathe into the left side ribs. Repeat poses 8 and 9 on second side.
Watch: Side Plank Pose Cues
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Lift your hips into Down Dog, and press your heels down. Hang your head between your upper arms. After each exhalation, hollow out your belly and pause for a moment before your next inhalation.
See also Dig Deeper in Down Dog
Eka Hasta Bhujasana (Elephant’s Trunk Pose)
Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right leg, and wrap it over your right arm (as high as it will go). Press your hands into the floor, and lift your hips. Relax the breath, eyes, and jaw.
Bend your right knee. Place your right foot on the mat close to your groin and left thigh. Twist to your left, either binding the pose or placing fingertips on the floor in line with your chest. Breathe evenly into your ribcage. Repeat poses 12 and 13 on second side.
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Bend your right knee, and place the sole of your right foot on your inner left thigh. Sidebend to the left, reaching your right arm along your right ear. If you can, hold your left foot with both hands. Do both sides.
Halasana (Plow Pose)
Lie back with your shoulders at the edge of 2 to 3 folded blankets. Engage your core and use momentum to lift your hips and legs up and over until the balls of your feet touch the floor. Interlace your fingers behind you.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
Support your lower back with your hands as you gently roll down. Remove the blankets. Then lift your hips, and place a block at its medium height under your sacrum. Lift your legs, and evenly press up through your feet.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Place a bolster behind you with a folded blanket on the top end. Lie back with your head on the blanket. Cover your eyes. Let your elbows and hands rest on the floor. Breathe gently.
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