Do you find yourself getting colds or other little illnesses, no matter how much you try to avoid them? Try as you might, do you find yourself getting sick more often than you like? There are a lot of factors that contribute to weakening of our immune system, but the number one reason is stress.
What happens to your body during stress? The hormone cortisol is released when your body finds itself in “fight or flight” mode, and it releases blood sugar and adrenaline in your body to propel you for the fight for survival you are about to have to face. You are wide awake and your appetite is decreased because your body is primed for action!
Except these days, the “action” is stress from work and everyday life, not tigers trying to eat us or enemy clans trying to steal our cows and pigs. As a result, the cortisol in our bodies doesn’t get used up properly, and instead keeps us on “high alert” mode, ripping into our sleep and recycling itself. The end result is a weakened immune system that has been embattled trying to keep up with the cortisol.
Yoga, of course, decreases stress by relaxing the muscles and turning the mind inward in meditation, but there are a few poses that specifically boost the immune system by stimulating activity in the lymph nodes and thymus gland. These in turn amplify the immune system in ways that complement the stress-reducing benefits! Here are 8 poses that focus on these areas and give your immune system an added boost!
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The Cobra pose stimulates your breathing by opening up the lungs. This prevents pneumonia and other breathing ailments. It also stimulates the thymus gland, which releases healthy T-cells. These are your body’s first defense against colds and the flu.
Lay on your stomach, then push your torso up with your arms. Straighten the arms and align the neck and back. Press the tops of the feet into the floor.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
The Fish Pose is the complement to the Cobra pose, reversing the position of the back to open up the lungs from the other direction.
Sit up straight with your legs straight out ahead of you, feet together. Put your hands under your butt with your elbows together, using them to lean back and support your arching spine. A variation features using blocks instead of your arms to support your head and spine.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The most famous yoga pose is great for your sinuses, as well as your blood circulation. Do it with a block to rest your head on for added calm and clarity.
Bend forward, leaning on your hands and making your body an upside-down V.
The Bow Pose opens up the chest and gives the front of the body a great stretch.
Laying on your stomach, reach behind you and grab your ankles, keeping your knees together but bending them.
Bridge (Setu Bhanda)
In addition to stimulating the thymus gland, the Bridge Pose is a great stretch for the back and hips.
Lying on your back, bring your knees up so your feet are flat on the floor. Push up with your feet so only they and your shoulders are touching the floor. Lay your arms parallel to your body, palms down.
Child Pose (Balasana)
This gentle stretch to the back is relaxing, but has the benefit of also decongesting the chest area.
Sit on your knees with your butt on your feet. Fold your torso forward so that your chest is resting on your thighs. Reach your hands in front of you, palms down.
Legs Up the Wall (Vitparita Karani)
The many benefits of this pose include the pumping of oxygen-rich blood into the legs and the relaxation of the lower back, but it’s the extreme stress-reducing property of this pose that helps the immune system.
Lie on the back with the backs of the legs pointing straight up against a wall.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
The Plow Pose is great for the thyroid and nervous system.
Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and your legs pointing straight up. Slowly bend the hips so the legs come over the chest and the feet are touching the floor above your head.
There you have it! These yoga positions build up so much more than a stronger immune system. What other yoga poses do you use in your routine?