Laying on the couch and wallowing in your misery is what you really want to do, but you keep up a steady yoga schedule and hate to miss a practice. Can you rally and make it to class?
The answer isn't cut and dry — going to class depends on what your actual ailments are. First and foremost, you want to practice the Yama Ahimsa and do no harm to your fellow yogis and yoginis. If you think you might have the flu, strep or another bug that's been careening through your tight community, definitely stay home so you don't continue to spread the illness.
If you've got an unnamed, undefinable impairment, ask yourself a few questions to help you decide if you should head to class, stay on the couch or settle for an at-home, gentle practice.
Does your regular class consists of an active flow with strong, ujjayi breathing or is it more of a restorative, gentle practice that moves your body in a calming way? This matters.
When determining whether you should go to yoga class when you're feeling run down, do an honest self-assessment. Body aches, piercing headaches and an actively upset tummy could very well get worse if you try to push through. These symptoms might benefit from a quieting class, but if you feel like it's the beginning of something serious — you're best to stay home and allow your body to focus on healing.
Now, if you're run down from weeks of overtraining at the gym, or from a demanding job and family life — a quiet, calming class might be just what you need to focus on you and re-energize.
Do You Have a Fever?
A fever is an absolute sign to skip class. It's a sign that your immune system is in overdrive and set on helping you heal. Interfering with that healing process could prolong your illness.
Are Your Symptoms Below the Neck?
An intense cough, tons of chest congestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting indicate you should stay home. Nasal congestion from allergies or the common cold don't preclude you from practicing, but these above-the-neck symptoms can make a rigorous practice uncomfortable. It's hard to be mindful when you fold forward with nasal drip. Plus inhaling and exhaling through your nose may just not be possible.
Consider heading to a gentler class where you can use bolsters for support and keep your head above your heart — to prevent uncomfortable drip. Even lying on your back in Savasana when your congested can be a chore — so consider laying back on a bolster with your upper body slightly elevated.
Even if you know you're not contagious, consider your fellow yogis. If you're snorting and snotting through practice, it can be distracting and alarming — you might be best off staying home.
When's Your Cycle?
When you don't feel well due to menstrual malaise and cramps, heading to class may actually be a good idea. While practicing while on your period is controversial in some yoga disciplines, certain poses — such as twists and back bends — can actually offer relief and make you feel human again.
Do You Have a Chronic Condition?
When you have a chronic condition, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you'll have good days and bad days. Yoga can help you persevere through the bad days, but there are limits. Use your good days to practice yoga and really get in touch with your body. This way you can evaluate the seriousness of your symptoms on bad days to determine if pushing through is possible.