5 Ways Yoga Can Influence Your Immune System
We all love that beautifully zen feeling that floats over us after a yoga session. But did you realize that yoga isn’t just good for your chakras, but also for your immune system? It’s true: another great reason to make time each day for your daily practice is that it can boost your immune system in all sorts of helpful ways.
There has been plenty of work done in yoga and immune system research space, with experts agreeing that regular yoga reduces inflammation and increases your body’s immune response.
So how does yoga affect the immune system, exactly? And what yoga poses are best for an immunity boost?
Read on for everything you need to know about yoga and its impact on immunity.
Ways Yoga Can Influence Your Immune System
Yoga has been practiced for millennia, but it’s only thanks to more modern science and research that we’re able to understand exactly why your daily downward dog is so good for your health.
Below are some of the best ways that yoga can boost your immune system. Of course, you’ll always get the best results if you pair yoga with a healthy diet and lifestyle; drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you as well, as water helps flush toxins and waste from your body.
1. Yoga Boosts Your Circulatory System
The body’s circulatory system plays a huge role in your immune system. It works to carry white blood cells through your body, which are used to fight off infections. This means you want to keep your circulatory system working its best – and yoga can help with that.
Because yoga is a full-body workout, it can do wonders for your circulation. As your heart starts pumping and you move into various poses, blood is being pushed all throughout your body, keeping you healthy, energized, and rejuvenated.
2. Reduces Stress
When we’re stressed, our immune system becomes weakened and it becomes harder to fight off disease and infection. Unfortunately, most of us live completely hectic lives, with stress rearing its ugly head more often than we’d like (ugh).
But if you’re feeling worried, anxious, or stressed, one of the best things you can do is take an hour of your day and focus on yoga. Yoga is known to relieve stress, helping us feel calmer, more relaxed, and less worried. And by removing stress from your body, it’s easier for your immune system to do its job effectively.
3. It Keeps Your Body Active
We all want to stay active, healthy, and fight off aging – and one of the secrets to this is exercise. Keeping your body moving through an activity like yoga is an important way to look after your overall health, which is good for your immune system.
If you love yoga and are motivated to work on your practice each day, it’s a great way to improve your health – and beats forcing yourself to go to the gym and do workouts you don’t enjoy.
4. Improves Your Breathing
Deep breathing is important for our immune system, as it brings fresh, clean oxygen into our lungs, which not only helps our immune system but strengthens chest muscles, improves digestion, and helps us feel calmer.
Because yoga is so focused on breath, you’ll find that the act of slow, controlled breathing can help your immune system function at its best.
5. Circulation to Our Organs Is Improved
Yoga increases blood flow not only through our limbs, but also internally. As you move, fresh oxygenated blood is flowing into your vital organs, including those that are essential to your immune system like the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes.
These organs help flush out toxins from your body and clean your cells, so yoga helps them work their best.
Yoga Poses That Help Your Immune System
Ok, so yoga is amazing for the immune system. But are there any specific poses that can give you a boost? No matter what type of yoga you enjoy, you’re likely to see health and immunity benefits. However, there are a few poses that are particularly good for your immune system.
Cobra is a wonderful pose for your immune system, since it opens up the chest and lungs. This helps ease stress, strengthens the respiratory system, and helps encourage digestion. Plus, the soothing stretch of cobra is so good that it’s always a great pose to move into! The clear, deep breaths you can take while in cobra will help stress exhale from your body, helping you feel like the amazing person that you are.
One of the most common yoga poses, downward dog really gets your body moving and stretching, which is great for helping white blood cells move through your body and do their job of fighting off infection. If you’re feeling a bit sniffly, it’s also great for relieving sinus pressure; the pose helps sinuses drain if you’re dealing with a cold or allergies.
Legs Up The Wall
Legs up the wall is a relaxing, enjoyable pose (with a funny-sounding name), especially if your hamstrings can do with a good stretch. However, it’s also considered one of the best poses for the lymphatic system, as it’s known in traditional yoga as the best pose for your immune health. Because it’s an inversion pose, it helps to move lymph fluid through the body. Try it when you’re feeling worn out or stressed as well, as you’re likely to feel more refreshed after.
So, does yoga strengthen the immune system? It’s a pretty clear yes, with expert researchers agreeing on the matter. Plus, it doesn't matter which type of yoga you do – from the sweat-inducing Bikram to the slow-paced yin yoga, all varieties give you immune-boosting benefits. With daily yoga practice, you’re not only helping yourself feel better in the moment, but you’re also helping your body keep you healthy. Grab your mat and block and get started – your immune system is sure to thank you!