yoga for cough and phlegm

9 Yoga Poses for Cough and Phlegm

When winter time would hit and it would start to get a little cooler in the mornings, my 6am yoga class would start to lose some of its appeal. Not because of the cold on my skin, but because of the effect that the cold would have on my respiratory system and sinuses.

Something about the cold triggers a response in my body and I usually spend the first hour of the day dealing with a build of mucus and coughing and blowing my nose close to a hundred times. I would bring my tissues into the class and tuck them under the corner of my mat, and be THAT girl, upsetting the zen with the constant nose blowing.

So when I said it made my yoga class unappealing, I meant because of the annoyed glances I would get and the assumptions that I was bringing sickness into the space. Avoiding the class was a no deal however, as it was that yoga practice that fought away all my symptoms and after an hour of moving the body and connecting to my breath, I was allergy and symptom free!

childs pose vector







Which yoga poses are good for caughing? 

Coughing fits and evidence of phlegm in the body, are a sign that there is obstruction that needs to be cleared out. Instead of reaching for over the counter pharmaceuticals, this article will provide you with an alternative and more healthy means of treatment, harnessing the body’s own powers through breath and movement.

As you work with the breath and these gentle opening postures, notice as the not only the body opens, but how the mind expands and stills which will signal to your nervous system that everything is OK.

Infographic: 9 Yoga Poses For Caugh & Phlem

yoga for cough and phlegm Infographic CM108-13

Supported Hero Pose on block - Virasana

Come into a kneeling position and slide a block horizontally underneath the sitting bones and sit down. Keep the knees together and allow the legs to open behind you. Lengthen the spine nice and tall and  close down the eyes. Allow the arms to be relaxed, with the palms resting on the thighs or knees.

Hero Pose on block - Virasana

Alternate Nostril Breathing - Anuloma Viloma Pranayama

Use the right thumb to plug the right nostril. Exhale all of the air out through the left nostril.  Inhale up the left nostril for a count of two, three, four. Then using the pointer finger, plug both nostrils and hold the breath for two, three, four.

Release the thumb and exhale out the right nostril for two, three, four. Pause at the bottom of the breath. Then Inhale up the right nostril, two, three, four. Plug both nostrils and hold for two, three, four. Release the pointer finger and exhale out the left nostril for two, three, four and then pause.

This is one full round of Alternate Nostril Breathing. When you are done, release both hands down and take a full breath in and a full exhale out.

Alternate Nostril Breathing helps to centre the body and bring it back into balance. Beginning practice with conscious breathing helps to ground the body and mind right from the get go. Consciously try to release stressful thoughts and tension from the body.

Alternate nostril breathing - anuloma viloma

Lions Breath-Simhasana

The next pranayama for this practice is the Lion’s Breath. You can continue kneeling and sitting on the block or move into a comfortable cross legged position and bring the hands to rest in the lap.

Lengthen up through the spine and draw the shoulders down and shoulders blades back to open the chest. Inhale through the nose and then stick out the tongue as far as possible and the exhale audibly out of the mouth. Inhale again through the nose, then stick out the tongue, and exhale audibly through the mouth. Repeat three more times, for a total of five rounds.

Lion’s breath stimulates the lymphatic system, while creating space in the chest and lungs which will assist in removing mucus that has built up in the body. Conscious, cleansing breaths will help to relieve tension in the chest and lungs and clear obstruction that is causing respiratory issues.

Lions Breath - Simhasana

Baby Cobra - Ardha Bhujangasana 

Flip on over onto the belly, removing the block and placing it to the side. Press the tops of the feet down into the earth, bring the hands directly underneath the shoulders with the elbows hugging in towards the body and direct the gaze down to lengthen the back of the neck.

With an inhale, lift the chest and heart up. The aim is to be using the strength of the back, so experiment with lifting the hands a few centimetres up off the mat. Keep the lower body relaxed and release any tension in the glutes. 

You want the strength to be coming from the back, so try to not have the weight of the body resting in the hands. Keep the gaze down to protect the neck and add length to the spine. With each breath try to bring the chest up a little higher to open the lungs to create space to promote better breathing and to remove obstruction and phlegm.

Half Cobra Pose - Ardha Bhujangasana

Bow Pose - Dhanurasana     

Continue lying on the belly and bend the knees and reach the arms back to grab for the outside edges of the feet. Keep the legs parallel towards the ground and the gaze down. Inhale and kick the feet back into the hands to lift the legs and chest up. Continue to lift the chest, and invite the body to rock back and forth to stimulate the abdominal organs.

As the body rocks forward and back, more space is being created in the lungs and the chest, which will aid in the elimination of mucus.

Bow Pose - Dhanurasana

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Release the feet and allow the legs to settle back onto the mat. Bring the hands underneath the shoulders, tuck the toes and push up into a Downward Facing Dog. Spread all ten fingers wide and press into the thumb, pointer finger and the heel of the palm for extra stability.

Draw the shoulders away from the ears and continue to send the tailbone high. Melt the heels down towards the ground

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Shvanasana

Standing Forward Bend Variation - Uttanasana     

Take the gaze towards the fingertips and start to walk the feet towards the hands, coming into a Standing Forward Bend. Keep the feet hip width distance apart and a soft bend in the knees is OK.  Release the hands down towards the ground and release any tension from the head and neck. Interlace the fingers at the low back and then reach the hands up and over towards the top of the mat, sending the weight into the toes.

This arms bound variation is working to open up the shoulders and the chest and although there is compression happening, you are still cresting length and space in the collarbone and the chest, which will help to open the lungs. Use this as an opportunity to practice your balance by bringing the weight forward into the toes.

Standing forward Bend with arms bound behind head - Uttanasna

Big Toe Pose - Padangusthasana     

Release the bind of the arms and wrap the first two fingers around the big toes of each of the feet. Invite a soft bend into the knees and release the head and neck down. Work to straighten the legs and hamstrings and continue to send the tailbone up. Bend the knees as much as you need to make that forehead to knee connection, and bring a bend into the elbows to help pull the torso down. 

Use the breath to help bring you deeper into this pose. With each inhale, lengthen the spine and with each exhale, fold a little deeper. This posture is creating compression inside of the abdomen which is going to stimulate the organs that it houses. 

big toe pose padangusthasana

 Extended Child's Pose - Balasana       

Bring the knees out wide, towards the edges of the mat and have the big toes touching behind you. Send the hips down towards the heels and then walk the hands forward to come into this restorative Child’s Pose.

Use this pose to fully surrender the body down into the mat, with the forehead pressing into the earth. Take the head left and right to massage into the scalp and release any tension and work with deep breaths, enjoying the full expansion of the belly as is rests unrestricted in between the thighs.

extended Chil's pose - balasana

Featured Video: 9 Poses Yoga For Cough and Phlem In Chest

Yoga for Cough Allergies    

Allergies are often a sign that there is a build up of excess mucus in the body that has become obstructed and when triggered by the environment we suffer from a whole range of allergic reactions, from coughing fits, to full blown asthma attacks.

This can really takes its toll on the body and and have you grabbing for pharmaceutical relief which is great for masking symptoms, but doesn’t do much in the way of healing.

Moving through gentle postures that open the body and create space are going to help to clear obstruction and ease your suffering and when combined with conscious breathing, you have an holistic means of treatment that can be combined or used as an alternative to over the counter drugs.

Studies in this area have actually shown that breathing exercises such as Pranayama techniques, can help to reduce the severity of asthma related symptoms.

The results of this study indicated significant improvements in lung functioning after the intervention, and went on to suggest Pranayama as part of a treatment plan for those with severe asthma. One of the Pranayama techniques that was used in this study was the Humming Bee breath.

Humming Bee Breath – Bhramari Pranayama
Rest the thumbs gently in the ears and then bring the index finger to meet between the brows. The remaining three fingers are going to rest either side of the bridge of the nose, covering the eyes. The fingers and thumbs are just lightly resting and the eyes are closed.

Inhale through the nose, and then as you exhale, drop the chin down to the chest and make a gentle humming sound. At the end of the exhale, bring the head back up and then repeat.

Yoga Mudra for Cold and Cough 

Moving the body with gentle yoga and working with conscious breathing is going to ease the body when coughs and colds come knocking. In addition, you can work with mudras that are thought to have therapeutic benefits for both the body and the mind.

One mudra that is specifically said to ease the symptoms of colds and coughs as a consequence of seasonal allergies and respiratory complaints is the Bhramara Mudra. It is also used to instil mental clarity and focus and can be used as many times as you feel necessary throughout the day. 

Find a comfortable easy seat, whether on the floor or seated in a chair with the spine straight and both soles of the feet down on the earth.

Bring your hands in front of your chest and bend the index finger down to meet the base of the thumb. Bring the tip of the middle finger to meet the tip of the thumb and have the two remaining fingers extending up.

Send you awareness to your breath and focus on steady even inhalations and exhalations for at least two to three minutes.  

Can Kapalbhati Help With Cough?

Pranayama in combination with gentle yoga is an amazing alternative to treating respiratory issues, from a simple cough to more severe symptoms of asthma and lung conditions. Research in this area has suggested the efficacy of conscious breathing on lung functioning and there are many simple techniques that can be practiced by all levels of yogi practitioner. This technique I am going to share with you now is known in Sanskrit as Kapalabhati Breathing, but more commonly as Breath of Fire.

Breath of Fire – Kapalabhati Breathing

Find a comfortable seat and then place one hand onto the belly. Inhale through the nose and then as you exhale out of the nose, pump the stomach back, drawing the belly button to the spine.

The attention is on the vigours exhales. Trust that the inhales will come naturally. This movement of the belly being drawn in, is a strong action, and the exhale are sharp. Start with thirty breaths and then take a break for one to two minutes.

Do three sets in total and then allow the breath to return to its natural state. Over time and as it becomes more natural to do so, you can increase the number of breaths per set.


Use these poses and Pranayama techniques whenever it feels as though there is obstruction in the body. Conscious, deep breath work is going to not only help clear the way, but it will also help to centre the body and bring it back into balance. The aim of this article has been to help you stimulate your lymphatic system, while creating space in the body.


Charlie Hanna

Charlie is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha, Yin Yoga & Meditation teacher with a psychology degree in her back pocket. She is currently on a mission chasing sun and Read More..

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