I remember back in the day, when I wasn’t the wellness enthusiast/ professional that I am now, I used to get sick once every season. Not just sniffles and sneezes- oh no; I was taken down for at least a week with aches, pains, cough, fever and the feeling that “this may be the one that kills me”- I know you know that feeling! When I changed my perspective and habits, my immunity changed dramatically; and I can say confidently that I haven’t been sick in two and a half years (knocks on wood).
I credit this change in my immunity to, of course, the food I eat; but also my fitness routine, which includes yoga. Now, I prefer the hot variety, and, in the winter, I’m diligent to take in at least one class a week- for my sanity and much more. Today’s guest author shares why in ancient times yoga was used to stay well, and poses to further facilitate winter season immunity.
This winter, Keep Calm and Do Yoga…
Yoga For Immunity
The ancient practice of yoga has long been used as a tool for improving health and increasing longevity. From healthy body weight and muscle tone to improved digestion, immunity and mental clarity, yoga has been proven to increase health and vitality to virtually the entire human system. Although many yoga practitioners accept these advantages at face value, others wonder how simple stretching and the holding of poses, or asanas, can improve so many aspects of health. The following describes how yoga leads to improved immunity, increased longevity and better quality of life.
The Immune System
The human immune system is an amazing thing. The body has an internal defense mechanism that protects against illnesses ranging in severity from the common cold to cancer and other potentially-terminal diseases. Various organs and body systems play a part in immunity, including the circulatory, digestive, nervous and lymphatic systems. When health decreases in just one of these areas, overall immunity is likely to suffer. This can lead to increased susceptibility to countless diseases and infections, including both viral and bacterial illnesses. Thankfully, yoga can be used to improve immunity by cleansing the body of toxins and reducing stress and anxiety.
Using yoga for immunity strength restores health to the body systems that controls immune system fortitude. For example, when it comes to an unhealthy nervous system, yoga promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. This is accomplished through the deep, rhythmic breathing and gentle stretching associated with yoga, which improves the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well.
For the circulatory system, yoga promotes a healthy flow of blood, oxygen, nutrients and antioxidants to all areas of the body. Antioxidants are especially important to immunity since these chemicals attack disease-causing free radicals and cleanse the entire body of impurities. In fact, antioxidants can even help repair and replace cells damaged by illness or disease.
The digestive system is also of special importance to immunity. Without proper digestion, the body is unable to rid itself of waste and toxins. In fact, improper digestion plays a role in a number of harmful medical conditions and health complications, including colorectal cancers and other digestive complaints. Like other types of physical activity, yoga improves digestion by kick-starting the entire system. However, unlike other types of exercise, certain yoga positions are designed to target the digestive system in particular, which can increase benefits to immunity and overall health.
Yoga For Immunity- Poses to Try
The following yoga positions are especially beneficial when it comes to improving immunity:
- Downward-facing dog. This poses targets the circulatory and digestive systems as well as major muscle groups.
- Bow pose. This asana promotes healthy digestion, which can help the body rid itself of toxins and impurities.
- Headstand. When performing inverted yoga poses like the headstand, the head is at a lower level than the heart. This improves circulation to the brain, the endocrine system and the thyroid, which provides increased immunity and improved mental function.
- Plow pose. This asana does wonders for immunity by increasing circulation to nearly all areas of the body.
- Wheel pose. This position promotes healthier function in the endocrine system as well as improved digestion and body function.
- Seated Twist. A powerful tool when it comes to improving digestion, the seated twist promotes more efficient elimination of waste as well as relaxation to the digestive organs.
There are many different types of yoga for immunity, each with its own benefits pertaining to health and wellness. From the more popular Hatha yoga to vigorous Ashtanga, all types of yoga will lead to improved immunity, more efficient body function and better quality of life.
How do you maintain a healthy immune system during the winter months? Or all year for that matter?