Fitness Magazine

How Yoga Helps Your Immune System

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

How Yoga Helps Your Immune System

One of the effective ways you can foster healthy aging is to use yoga to support your immune system. An immune system that is functioning well prevents illness and promotes healing, by fighting off common infections, healing wounds, and scavenging early cancer molecules. You can also use yoga to complement western medical treatments for a wide range of illnesses, including:

  • flu and other common infections
  • rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
  • conditions that can affect your immune system indirectly, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer recovery, and many other

For those with immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS and adrenal insufficiency, you can boost immune system functioning while also fostering your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Using your active asana practice for exercise promotes your overall health, keeping your body strong and flexible, and by helping your cardiovascular system, digestive system, and respiratory systems to function optimally. By improving your balance and agility, your asana practice prevents injuries that result from falling, and which weaken your immune system.

You can also improve your immune system’s lymphatic circulation with your asana practice. Practicing dynamic poses and flow sequences, where you move in and out of poses with your breath, naturally pumps your muscles, improving the flow of the lymphatic fluids through your body. Although not as effective as moving dynamically, you can even use your static poses to improve lymphatic circulation by rhythmically contracting and relaxing as many muscle groups as possible.

Over exercising can increase inflammation, but gradually introducing appropriate amounts of exercise can be very beneficial, reducing the inflammation and improving overall immune system function. So if you’re suffering from an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, be carefully to ease gradually into the active asana practice, starting with the most gentle practices.

Stress Management

Because chronic stress weakens your immune system, using yoga’s stress management techniques to keep stress levels in check helps keep your immune system strong. And because your immune system works most efficiently when you’re in Rest and Digest state, spending as much time as possible in state will bolster your immune system, whether you are healthy or ill.

Recent research also indicates yoga’s stress management tools lower stress hormones and other pro-inflammatory molecules in our bodies, so yoga also helps with chronic inflammation, which can be caused by aging. Even newer studies suggest that yoga may turn on beneficial genes in some of our white blood cells, which may ultimately improve our overall immune function. 

Yoga’s stress management tools can also help reduce stress eating and other unhealthy stress-related behaviors that negatively impact the immune system. While we can’t say that any of the stress management techniques are better than others, you may find that one or two work best for you. So, if possible, practice all of them periodically to be familiar with all of them. You can practice any of these stress management techniques as a part of your regular asana practice or alone, at a different time of day.

Better Sleep

To help you stay healthy and keep your immune system functioning optimally, you need a good night’s sleep. Yoga can be really helpful for improving sleep, and we have a whole post on it at 5 Tips for Better Sleep.

Healthy Habits

A healthy diet that provides good nutrition is necessary for a strong immune system, so if you’re struggling with unhealthy eating habits, using yoga to support healthy eating habits will help your immune system function optimally. See Yoga for Healthy Eating for tips about how to use yoga to support healthy eating.

Addiction to unhealthy substances such as cigarettes, drugs, or too much alcohol can weaken your immune system by damaging cells, suppressing immune function and causing inflammation. You can use yoga’s mindfulness techniques to assist in changing harmful habits. It’s beyond the scope of this blog to provide complete information on this, but Yoga Meditation Techniques provides information on how to meditate, which can help improve awareness of thought patterns and strengthen will power.See Techniques for Supporting Your Immune System for more recommendations on using yoga to support your immune system.

Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° Join this site with Google Friend Connect

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog