Yoga for…. Immunity

#LiftTheSpirits Lockdown Campaign, Week 2

Yoga has the potential to influence pretty much every physiological process in the body — from muscle contraction to breathing, digestion, blood flow, and circulation. When it comes to immunity, three specific systems are important — the nervous + immune + lymphatic system. Nervous because stress increases cortisol which dampens our immune system response, by reducing inflammation.

Our immune system consists of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body and fight off infections and diseases.

These defensive cells are located in our white blood cells. They are transferred around the body by the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of thin tubes called lymph vessels, which connect lots of glands throughout your body called lymph nodes. They regulate the amount of fluid in our body, filter out bacteria, foreign matter and dead tissue, and defend against infection.

Yoga can even influence the function of the lymphatic system, which, while perhaps one of the least known and appreciated systems of the body, is also our first line of defence against disease.

Healthy lymph flow is a key component of a strong immune system, and fortunately yoga asana can help that flow. Unlike the circulatory system, which is driven by the pump of the heart, the lymphatic system depends on gravity as well as on tissues contracting to squeeze fluid through its vessels. This makes yoga poses like twists, forward folds, side bends, and inversions the perfect tools to boost lymph flow.

Yogic breathwork (pranayama) also offers multiple health benefits. Taking daily conscious, mindful deep breaths helps to balance the nervous system, reinforces the respiratory system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and can even help activate the lymphatic system, which plays a major role in immune function.

Fun fact: The thymus gland is a small organ behind the breastbone that plays an important function both in the immune system and endocrine system. Though the thymus begins to atrophy (decay) during puberty, its effect in “training” T lymphocytes to fight infections and even cancer lasts for a lifetime.

Since about 80% of your immune system is located in the folds of your digestive tract, this is really good news! Engaging the diaphragm by breathing in this way causes it to massage the internal organs and glands, which in turn helps move lymph (fluid containing the immune system’s white blood cells) throughout the body to their targeted locations. (2)

Yoga Poses for Immunity (combining twists, inversions, forward folds) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE7LIzTnF5w:

These poses help to move lymph fluid and decongest chest helping the function of the circulatory system and thymus gland.

  1. Seated side stretch

2. Neck stretch

3. Seated twist

4. Childs pose

5. Helps to decongest chest

6. Bridge

7. Supported fish pose

8. Legs up in air — Viparita Karani

NB: These sequences will soon be on my youtube channel.

References:

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-sequence-to-boost-lymph-flow-and-support-your-immune-system

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