Exposure to germs, environmental pollutants, toxins and constant stress can weaken your immune system and leave your body more vulnerable to diseases.
A healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, less stress, a healthy diet and good hygiene is a must to support good immunity. Along with these, you can make yoga a part of your daily routine to boost your immune system.
Yoga is a holistic form of exercise that benefits physical as well as mental health.
It strengthens the mind and body as well as builds your immunity to help you ward off diseases. A strong immune system also provides protection against viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
Yoga helps by combating stress hormones that can weaken the immune system, while stimulating the lymphatic system to discharge toxins from the body.
Several studies have backed the benefits of yoga on stress and the immune system.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that yoga resists the autonomic changes and impairment of cellular immunity seen in academic examination stress.
In addition, a 2012 University of California-Los Angeles study reports that practicing a type of chanting yogic meditation daily for eight weeks can lower one’s stress level. This is due to yoga reducing biological mechanisms responsible for increasing the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to numerous chronic health conditions.
Furthermore, a 2013 study published in PLOS ONE shows that yogic practices have rapid effects at the molecular level in circulating immune cells.
Also, yoga helps supply fresh, pure oxygenated blood to various systems of the body, so that they can function optimally.
Here are the top 10 yoga poses to help boost your immunity.
Caution: Some of these poses may not be suitable if you are suffering from high blood pressure or if you have back pain or neck pain.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The Mountain Pose is the primary pose from which all yoga poses emerge.
It improves blood circulation, so that oxygen and nutrients reach every part of the body. It also steadies your breathing, increases awareness and reduces stress and tension. It also increases your energy level.
It is a beginner level pose and can be done anywhere. However, remember not to do this yoga pose on a full stomach.
- Stand straight with your hands by your sides and your legs slightly apart.
- Lift your inner ankles, while strengthening the inner arches.
- Slowly turn your upper thighs inward. Draw out your tailbone in a manner that it is toward the floor.
- Raise your pubic bone, moving it closer to your navel.
- Tilt your head and gaze your eyes upward.
- Breathe in and stretch your shoulders, chest and arms upward. Lift your heels and put your body weight on your toes.
- Hold the pose while you take 5 to 10 breaths.
- Finally, breathe out and release.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The Child’s Pose is another good yoga pose for your immunity. It helps decongest the chest and build a better immune defense system.
This deeply relaxing exercise is also good for your back. Plus, it calms the nervous system and helps alleviate constipation.
- Sit on your heels, keeping your back straight and hands resting on your knees.
- Exhale and bend forward to lower your forehead to the floor, while keeping your heels together.
- Keep your arms alongside your body and put your hands on the floor, palms facing up.
- Gently press your chest down on your thighs.
- Breathe in and out slowly for about 5 minutes.
- To come out of this pose, inhale and use your hands to push up your upper body.
- Slowly rise to the sitting position and try not to put too much pressure on your back.
3. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This is one of the best poses to practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing and to balance an agitated nervous system.
It opens up the upper part of the body, including the heart and lungs. It also corrects your body posture, while stimulating the thymus that aids the body’s defense mechanism.
Regularly practicing this immune-boosting pose will energize you, while reducing fatigue and anxiety.
- Lie on your back on the floor and place your arms alongside your body.
- Place your hands under your hips, left and right respectively.
- Bend your elbows and push your upper body off the floor, exhaling as you do this.
- With an inhale, raise your chest and tilt your head backward.
- Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Inhale as you return to resting your back on the floor.
Note: Beginners can incorporate some modifications while performing this pose. For instance, you can place a thickly folded blanket beneath your head to avoid strain in your back and neck.
4. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
This is another popular immune-boosting yoga pose.
It also improves your respiratory system and aids in digestion. In addition, it decongests your chest, helps unclog the arteries in your heart, and strengthens your shoulders, abdominal muscles and thighs.
Some other benefits of the Camel Pose are reduced back and neck pain, along with improved energy.
- Kneel down on a yoga mat and place your hands on your hips. If needed, you can use a cushion under your knees.
- Keep your knees aligned with your shoulders. The soles of your feet should be facing upward.
- Inhale and draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone.
- At the same time, arch your back and slide your palms over your feet until your arms are straight.
- Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Stay in the position for a few minutes, while breathing in and out.
- Finally, exhale and gently return to your initial position.
Note: If you are finding touching your hands to your feet difficult then you can add a little modification by tucking your toes to elevate your heel.
5. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The Bow Pose is true to its name, as the body takes the shape of a bow. This pose improves the flow of white immune cells by putting pressure on the digestive system.
It also helps combat stress and fatigue, while strengthening your abdominal and back muscles. It relieves menstrual pain and can help with kidney problems as well.
- Lie on your stomach with your chin on the floor, your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- With an inhale, bend your knees and grab your ankles with your hands.
- Slowly raise your chest and pull your legs up and back.
- Keep your head straight.
- Hold the pose and take deep breaths for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Exhale as you lower your ankles and chest back to the floor.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times.
- Finally, relax and continue to take long, deep breaths for 1 minute or so.
6. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The Chair Pose resembles the act of sitting on a chair, but the chair is absent. It is an essential component of the Sun Salutation Pose, but it can also be practiced on its own to build strength and stamina throughout your body.
This pose strengthens your determination and stimulates your heart, while massaging your abdominal organs. It also aids weight loss and improves the respiratory system.
- Stand upright and keep your legs slightly apart.
- With your palms facing down, stretch your arms out straight. Do not bend your elbows.
- Exhale and slowly act out the position of sitting in a chair, bending your knees and pushing your pelvis down.
- As you embrace the position, ensure that your hands are parallel to the floor.
- Hold the pose for about 1 minute, keeping your spine absolutely straight. Take deep breaths to calm your mind and relax.
- Exhale and gently return to your original position.
- Repeat the steps 10 times.