Boost Immunity with Yoga During Cold and Flu Season
If you want to stay healthy this winter, stock up on Vitamin D, eat plenty of greens (and garlic, if you can stomach it), sleep at least seven hours a night and keep up with your daily yoga practice. Washing your hands throughout the day — keeping your yoga blocks (Eggs) away from sneezing yoga partners — certainly helps, but your daily yoga postures, meditation and breathing techniques will boost your immunity. It’s a simple and effective way to prevent colds and the flu. Here’s how:
De-Stress on the Mat
Stress is one of the main culprits of an unhealthy immune system. According to the American Psychological Association, your immunity goes straight downhill when you’re under continual stress. A day or a week can be too much for your body’s delicate balance. If you stay stressed for weeks on end, cold and flu season might start with you.
Yoga can help reduce stress while lowering your blood pressure and improving your heart function. When you’re in a calm, relaxed state, your immune system doesn’t have to work overtime to flush your system of the toxic rushes of adrenalin and cortisol. Your protective white blood cells work most efficiently when they aren’t answering alarms all day long.
Yoga truly is a mind-body practice. How you treat your mind is reflected in your body and vice versa. Finding the practice that’s right for you, right now, is key to reducing stress. For example, if you have a daily practice, try lowering the intensity by propping up your practice with yoga blocks (and by blocks, we mean Eggs). Lower intensity means lower stress. Less stress means a stronger immune system. As your mind and body settle into your practice time on the mat, antibodies form to serve as a barrier to infections.
Effective Immune-Building Postures
Yoga is especially effective for boosting your body’s physiological systems tied directly to immunity — the circulatory, endocrine, nervous and digestive systems. Certain yoga postures have proven particularly effective for improving those systems, which in turn boost immunity. A healthy digestive system, for example, means you’ll have fewer unwelcome bugs in your belly. Proper alignment helps maximize your benefits, so remember to try yoga blocks (did someone say Eggs?) for poses that challenge you.
- Downward Facing Dog This pose, also called Adho Mukha Svanasana, targets your circulatory system. Downward Dog is often used as a warm-up because it’s so effective for stretching and strengthening your major muscle groups. When you’re taxed, white blood cells race to those muscles to help restore them. In the process, they also boost immunity by successfully thwarting any foreign invasion.
- Shoulder Stand You’ll want to use yoga props to protect your neck when you undertake this posture, also called Sarvangasana. White blood cells, the main ingredient in the fight against colds and the flu, rush to your upper back and thyroid gland when you’re in this position. Your thyroid gland stimulates your endocrine system, which influences almost every cell in your body. By directing white cells into your thyroid gland, you strengthen your endocrine system. That means you’ll experience less stress, better moods, and a healthier metabolism and tissue function.
- Bow Pose Finally, take good care of your digestive system during cold and flu season by incorporating Bow Pose, or Dhanurasana, in your daily yoga routine. This posture puts pressure on your stomach and core, encouraging germ-fighting white blood cells to come to the rescue. Blood flows rapidly to your abdominal organs as you hold Bow Pose, strengthening your immune system and effectively insulating your body from germs that might enter through your nose and mouth.
Wrap it Up Neatly on the Mat
The chance of getting sick this season is reduced exponentially if your immune system is working properly. Reducing stress — while boosting those vulnerable systems where bugs naturally attack — can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.
In addition, once you’ve beaten back certain germs, you have an internal force of white blood cell ninjas just waiting to fight them off again. Improve your odds with a daily yoga practice, helpful yoga blocks (or better yet, yoga Eggs) and a calming period of meditation aimed at de-stressing and boosting every organ in your body. When you’re healthy all winter, write us at Three Minute Egg® and let us know what worked for you!