How Does Yoga Boost The Immune System?
A regular yoga practice will help to boost your immune system. A class run by a qualified teacher will usually include a centring and settling, an asana/posture practice, breath work and a mediation/relaxation/yoga nidra. Other techniques such as locks/bandha and mudra/hand gestures and mantra/sounds/vibrations will also be included. A combination of all of these yoga elements will help you to stay strong and healthy.
When you centre yourself, you become more mindful of how you are feeling. You will start to notice the most subtle of changes to your physical and spiritual self. This will mean that when you are tired you can sleep. When you need a healthy snack you can get one. And when you feel the breath become ragged or shallow you can try and smooth it out with deep, long, even breaths. Also, when you focus on your body and breath you may feel a little bit more aware and in the present moment, and not worried about what has happened in the past, or what may happen in the future. You will increase your awareness of your whole being and will be able to provide yourself with what you need.
An asana practice will invigorate your whole body and improve your circulation, ensuring that blood and oxygen reaches every cell of the body. A yoga practice can also serve to warm the body keeping your internal flame and internal fire/agni burning, which can help to burn off disease and impurities in the physical body. It also serves to increase prana and life force in the body, making you feel stronger and more powerful.
Yoga meditation and nidra/sleep can help to quieten a chattering mind and enable the body to rest. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which can reduce stress hormones and allows the body to function normally. You may have noticed your stomach starting to rumble as you take a relaxation and when the digestive system starts to work again. A yoga relaxation for just 10 minutes is said to give you the equivalent of one hours sleep. So don’t skip the savasana at the end of the class.
When you breathe in yoga postures or take pranayama breath practices, you direct energy into the body and into every cell of the body. A full breath/air also serves to increase the fire element in the body, boosting your immune system, energy levels, and firing up your metabolism. So as your breathe, breathe with a purpose – to increase the energy, fire and prana in your body.
The use of bandha can lock energy into the body and move the flow of energy upwards in the body to make you feel lighter and more uplifted. Mudras create a circuit of energy in the body, making you feel more energised. Sound/vibration/mudra can release stress and tension in the body and have a profound effect on your state of mind.
When you practice yoga you will also be aware of the yamas and niyamas, additional limbs of yoga. These are restraints and observations to carry into daily life off the mat. Such limbs include: truthfulness, non-violence/loving kindness and being kind to yourself, non-stealing, non-greed, discipline, self-study and so on. And if you are giving and considerate in these times of worry, this will go towards your sense of good and self worth; again boosting your immune system and well-being.
So if you haven’t tried a yoga class from a qualified teacher, then give it a go. It will really change your life on and off the mat!
What Is The Immune System?
The immune system is the defence mechanism of the body and protects us from disease. If bacteria or viruses attack the body, the immune system should respond and kick into action. Your body contains a complex network or cells and proteins that defend the body against infection by finding, attacking and breaking down foreign organisms that can otherwise cause disease. Therefore it is vital to maintain a strong immune system.
What Can I do To Boost My Immune System?
1. Stay Active – A regular exercise programme at home can give you a purpose, so get the body moving and it will make you feel alive. Exercise to improve your circulation and to warm the body will ignite your inner fire, improving your energy levels and your resistance to disease. Try yoga, or take a walk in nature.
2. Sleep Well – Be mindful of getting enough rest. Treat yourself to a yoga relaxation, an afternoon nap and an early night. Lack of sleep can contribute to a lowered defence system.
3. Ease Stress – Physical and emotional stress can contribute towards lowering your immunity, which is why you are more likely to fall ill if you are tense or stressed. The current situation is worrying and stressful for many of us, on an emotional, physical and economical level. When your mind is relaxed, the body feels stronger and more prepared to fight off threats such as viruses. When we relax the body and mind, the body is more resistant to disease. Try listening to some calming music, deep breathing, yoga and meditation; or whatever works for you.
4. Eat well – It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Ensure you have a diet full of vitamins and minerals. Eat your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day and include proteins, carbohydrates, dairy and a little bit of sugar. Don’t forget to drink lots of water enabling the body to function well, and less alcohol!
5. Breathe – Notice your breath and tune into it during the day and when you can remember. Notice how the breath feels. Is it deep and long, regular and energy giving; or is it shallow, ragged or irregular? In times of stress we sometimes hold the breath, even forgetting to breathe or we breathe irregularly and this can make the mind equally unsettled and unable to think. And in times of stress other systems suffer, such as the digestive system which can’t work properly when the stress hormones have been released. The mind is intrinsically linked to the breath. A calm breath can result in a calm mind, which can then function well, and we can then make good and clear decisions. So make sure you breathe well. Breathe in and out, and say to yourself, “In” as you breathe in and, “Out”as you breathe out. You may find that as you focus on the breath it slows and settles into a lovely rhythm, and this in turn can make you feel more at ease and calm.
6. Talk and Stay Connected – Feeling isolated and lonely can also contribute to a lowering of our immunity. Therefore try to pick up the phone or go online to contact your friends and loved ones. You will feel better knowing you are not alone.
And if you at stay home and only venture out for essentials you can hopefully reduce your risk of exposure to disease; so that if your immune system is depleted you will stay safe.
Please take care. Stay safe. And please join me for yoga soon. We are live and online. And we hope to see you soon back in our studio.
Faye x | Body Soul Yoga| British Wheel of Yoga Teacher
Try our Boosting the Immune System video on YouTube. This yoga video is a full 60 minute live class from this week and is free. Please give it a go.