Yoga has many benefits. It can bring us stress relief, improve our flexibility, help us strengthen the body and the mind, as well as keeping us mobile and improving our joint strength. This is all without even touching on the more spiritual aspects of a yoga practice! But can yoga keep us healthy?
In this article, we will cover how yoga can boost our immunity, as well as a few poses that you can do right now to support your immune system.
How Can Yoga Boost Immunity?
Moving your body into certain positions can help boost immunity in several ways. Here’s what yoga can do to help you keep sickness at bay.
Yoga takes us back to a state of ‘rest and digest’ and away from the stress-inducing ‘fight or flight’ response. Stress has a direct effect on our immune systems, spend a little time relaxing to keep your body healthy.
Conditions the Lungs and Respiratory Tract-
A higher-paced yoga class raises our heart level and works the cardiovascular system. Everything has to work harder to move oxygenated blood around the body and to the muscles that need it. Oxygenated blood is also delivered to organs to help them work at their best and give us energy.
Pranayama, or controlled breathing, encourages us to take deeper and slower breaths – helping us to use our lungs to their full potential.
Stimulates Lymphatic System-
Yoga stimulates the lymphatic system – the system responsible for ridding the body of toxins and waste.
Keeps the Cells Healthy
Any kind of movement keeps the cells healthy even when we’re stressed. Staying active reduces inflammation as well as the other symptoms of stress on the body.
Yoga Positions for Immunity-
All yoga can be considered good for immunity. You’ll relax, move your body, and stop focusing on external stress factors. Here are a few easy poses that you can start with that will help to boost your immunity.
Pranayama, or controlled breathing, can provide us with one of the best defenses against sickness. It quickly works to relieve stress and anxiety – two things related to our overall well being and immune system.
Here’s a simple pranayama that you can do at any time to relieve stress and anxiety. A bonus is that this breathing technique is great for harnessing focus!
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable seat – you can opt for lotus pose if it’s something that you regularly practice. For more comfort, sit on a pillow or blanket.
- Close the eyes and take a deep inhale through the nose.
- Using the thumb of your right hand, block the right nostril and exhale through the left.
- Take your next inhale through the left.
- Using the ring finger of your right hand, block the left nostril and exhale through the right.
- Take your next inhale through the right.
- Block the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left.
- Repeat for up to 5 minutes.
02- Easy Seat
Taking a comfortable seat and bringing awareness to the body can have calming effects. Achieving calm boosts our immune systems, and helps us to continue into our day without stress.
How to Achieve an Easy Seat
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, using lotus if you prefer.
- Place a small pillow underneath the sit bones to help you lengthen through the spine.
- Plant your sit bones down as you grow tall through each vertebra, tucking the chin very slightly towards the chest to reach the crown of the head towards the sky.
- Focus on the movement of your breath in your lungs and as it travels up and down your spine.
- Stay here for as long as you like.
03- Spinal Twists
Primarily, spinal twists nourish the spine. But there’s a theory that spinal twists can help with internal functions and improve digestion – bad digestion leads to a buildup of toxins in the body.
- Sit with a straight spine (add a cushion underneath the sit bones if this is difficult to achieve).
- Lay your right leg out long in front of you.
- Bring the left knee into the chest, and either place the sole on the inside, or if you can, on the outside of the right leg.
- Inhale to grow tall and reach both hands up towards the sky.
- As you exhale, turn the body towards the right, placing your right fingertips behind you on the floor, and bending the left elbow to connect with the left knee.
- Use your inhales to get taller through the spine, and your exhales to twist deeper.
- Stay for up to 5 breaths.
Inversions increase blood flow to the sinuses – which is where your body will first try to fight off infection! It’s important to keep your sinuses and mucus membranes healthy so that they can keep you healthy in return. Here’s an easy inversion that you can practice at any time, no matter your level.
- Start from a standing position.
- Take an inhale to reach the fingers up towards the sky.
- As you exhale, hinge at the hips, bend deeply in the knees to draw the belly along the thighs and bring your palms down to the floor or two blocks.
- Keep the knees bent as much as you need to so that the thighs and belly stay connected.
- Let the head, arms, and shoulders relax.
- Stay here for as long as you like.
- When you’re finished, come slowly back into child’s pose.
05- Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is one of the most restorative poses and can make us feel immediately more at ease and anxiety-free.
How to Practice Child’s Pose:
- Start in a kneeling position.
- Keeping the thighs, knees, and big toes touching, slowly start to bring your chest down towards the thighs.
- Draw the arms alongside you with the hands resting on the mat.
- You can bring a block or a cushion underneath your forehead if it’s more comfortable.
Dedicate 15 minutes to flowing through a few of the movements that we’ve discussed above and keep your immunity strong!