By Kimaya Singh
We hear about the positive effects of Yoga on immunity, but what are the best methods? Should we practice pranayama, asana, meditation, or all three? Regular practice of Yoga asanas and pranayama exercises will help to keep you in good physical and mental health. There are also asanas and pranayama exercises that are particularly beneficial for enhancing the functioning of the immune system.
The immune system is “staffed” by white blood cells that are distributed throughout the body by the lymphatic system. Exercise in general will help to increase the functioning of the immune system by increasing the circulation of white blood cells throughout the entire body. Yoga asanas that turn the body upside down are known as inversions. Inversions will substantially support the efficient functioning of your immune system through the added power of gravity to increase circulation.
Yoga Poses for the Immune System
There are a number of yoga postures that can help boost the immune system. One is the Downward-Facing Dog, which helps to increase blood flow and improve circulation. Another is the Shoulder Stand, which helps to increase lymphatic drainage. The Lion Pose is also beneficial, as it helps to stimulate the thymus gland, which produces white blood cells.
Our ability to experience the positive effects of Yoga on immunity is also closely tied to the level of stress and anxiety that we feel throughout our bodies and minds. Yogic breathing exercises or pranayama techniques that combat anxiety and lower stress levels help to boost the functioning of our immune systems. In general, pranayama exercises that balance or deepen the breath help to ease anxiety and tension.
Soothing the Nervous System
Breathing exercises that elongate the exhale portion of the breath are particularly effective at soothing an over-active nervous system. Breath retention also helps to quell rapid, shallow breathing that is frequently seen in those of us who are very stressed. As stress levels begin to abate, the body can begin to re-balance and restore itself. The pervading sense of ease often felt after pranayama exercises aimed at calming down the nervous system will allow the immune system to function at a much higher level.
Three Part Breath (Dirgha Pranayama)
Effects of Yoga on immunity are improved by many forms of pranayama, but let’s look at Dirgha pranayama. To practice this pranayama, sit comfortably on a chair or on your Yoga mat. You may wish to sit on a blanket if your hips are tight. Begin by taking a few full, deep breaths. Your tongue is placed in a position known as Khechari Mudra.
Instructions for Dirgha Pranayama
When you are ready to begin, place the tip of your tongue directly behind your top front teeth and against the roof of your mouth. Keep your tongue in this position for the entire length of the exercise. The goal is to inhale for half the time you are exhaling. Choose the amount of time you are inhaling and exhaling to suit your comfort level. For example, you may wish to inhale for five counts, hold for a count of six and exhale for ten counts. Breath through your nose on the inhale and exhale through your mouth.
Basic Principles of Breathing
If you need to change the number of seconds you are inhaling, retaining, or exhaling your breath, which is fine. Firstly, make sure you maintain the same ratio. Secondly, it is optimal to exhale for double the amount of time you inhaled in order to calm down your nervous system. Thirdly, repeat four to eight times. Finally, when you have completed the exercise, sit quietly for a few minutes and feel the calmness entering your body and mind.
Meditation For the Immune System
Granted, the positive effects of Yoga on immunity cannot be discussed without mentioning meditation. Of course, runaway stress does not help a medical recovery. Naturally, training one’s mind to be positive and optimistic is a healing strategy. To be sure, the mind has always played a role in healing and improving one’s recovery. To clarify, within doctor’s offices and hospitals, it is obvious that patients who have a positive attitude, increase the odds of a successful recovery.
There are many benefits of yoga, including improved immunity. One way yoga improves immunity is through mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation helps to focus the mind and allows the body to relax. When the body is relaxed, it is better able to fight off infection and disease. In addition, mindfulness meditation can help to reduce stress, which can also weaken immunity.
Improve Your Health with Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a type of yoga that is known to help improve the immune system. It involves lying down in a comfortable position and focusing on the breath. Additionally, this helps to relax the body and mind. The practice of Yoga Nidra has been shown to help increase the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infection. Therefore, it can also help to reduce stress levels, which can lead to a stronger immune system.
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