Caring for a Cold During the Winter

By Dr. Sant

Colds are illnesses caused by many different viruses and can occur year round.  Young children can get up to 6-8 colds per year and more if in childcare or school.  Yoga and breath practices may be useful in treating cold symptoms and making the child more comfortable. These practices can be used by adults as well.

Opening the chest and allowing for increased air movement is fundamental when cold symptoms become entrenched in the nasal passages and chest.  Opening the chest for a baby can be achieved with a simple movements of the arms.  Alternate arm raises can be achieved by raising one arm overhead on the inhalation and bringing down the arm on the exhalation.  Repeat on the other side, alternating arms.  For the older child (seated or standing), have them raise their right hand on an inhalation with palm facing forward and lower the arm to their side on an exhalation. Repeat 6-12 times.  The next chest opener is called the wing and prayer pose.  The child’s hands are brought to prayer position with palms together positioned over the chest about shoulder height.  On an inhalation, keeping the palms together, arms are raised overhead.  On an exhalation, bring joined palms back down to chest level.  On the next inhalation, separate hands and move arms with elbows bent like wings to the side of the body at shoulder height.  For a baby, this can be done while lying down.  For the older child, this can be done in a seated position.  Repeat 6-12 times.

Another fundamental treatment is rest or relaxation of the muscles.  Practicing a basic reclining or relaxation pose 2-3 times daily when symptoms are the worst can be very therapeutic.  The relaxation pose can be done lying on the ground or in bed if needed.  The arms are at the side of the body with the palms facing upward.  For an infant, you can gently hold their arms with palms facing upward if they don’t stay in this position.   If needed, a small blanket roll can be placed under the child’s knees to keep their back comfortable.  Eyes should be closed and then allow the natural breath to take over.  For young children, gently stroke the arms and legs with firm pressure (moving from shoulder to hands and hips to feet).  This may assist in their being able to lie still and promotes relaxation of all muscles including the chest muscles which get tight during a cold attack.  Do for 5-10 minutes.

If the child is particularly congested, having a vaporizer in the room can be very useful to help moisturize the air.  Eucalyptus oil in the vaporizer (10-15 drops of the essential oil) can help break up the mucous and make breathing easier.

Massaging various areas of the body during a cold can assist with eliminating the mucous that builds up.  Massaging across the cheekbones from nose to ear with a single sweep of the thumbs across the face feels good to most babies and children.   Massaging the neck from behind the ear to the collarbone also assist in drainage of the congested sinuses.  Do with some warm oil on your hands and repeat 6-12 times as tolerated.

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