The last year has been rough for almost all of us, the primary reason being COVID-19. We faced a situation that our generation was not at all familiar with. While it brought plenty of trouble with it, it also made more people conscious about their health. Since the virus did not have any vaccine, people were motivated to exercise and eat healthy, hoping to improve the strength of their immune system in case something bad happens. This also introduced a lot of people to Yogic and Ayurvedic sciences which are proven ways to improve your immune system. Today we are going to talk about science as well as the practice of yoga by which you can enhance your immune system.
Yoga and Ayurveda both have originated from the Vedas, which are the sacred texts of the ancient Indians. And both of them together are responsible for the holistic health development of an individual. This is also the reason they have philosophical similarities. While allopathic treatments focus on specific symptoms of diseases, Ayurveda focuses on wholesome health development or balance in your body’s constitution which we have discussed in a bit detail in our Beginner’s Guide to Ayurveda. The goal of all of this is to improve your immune system and make your body capable of fighting external agents of disease all by itself.
Cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone, is responsible for making you stressed and makes you alert in crisis situations. But it is detrimental for your body in the long run. Practicing certain yoga asanas (postures) will moderate your cortisol levels thus improving your immunity, it also raises your anti-oxidants enzyme levels which will make you feel younger.
YOGA ASANAS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
1. Shalabasana (Locust Pose)
Steps to do Shalabasna:
Lie flat on your stomach.
You can stretch your arms forward.
Keep your feet together and knees straight.
As you inhale, lift up your arms and legs together.
Lift your head and raise your chest off the floor as high as possible.
2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Steps to do Mountain Pose:
Stand with your feet together, keeping your back straight.
Bring together your palms and interlock them.
As you inhale, lift your arms up with your palms facing outward.
Raise your heels, thus standing on your toes.
Feel the pressure of stretching.
Try to remain in this posture as long as possible, while breathing deeply and calmly.
Slowly come back to your original position.
3. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Steps to do Seated Forward Bend:
Sit with your legs stretched in front of you on the floor.
Keep your spine erect and toes tilted towards you.
As you inhale, slowly raise both arms straight above your head and stretch up.
As you exhale, bend forward from the hip joint, chin moving towards the toes and place your hands on your legs.
Remain in this position for as long as possible.
Slowly come back to your initial position.
PRANAYAMA FOR IMMUNITY
Pranayama (breathing exercises) are a major part of Yogic practice, and there are plenty of health benefits that can be derived from pranayama including immunity enhancement. Pranayama involves deep breathing which helps our immune system regenerate cells in order to fight infections and any other ailments that may affect us.
The practice of pranayama helps in treating various lung diseases like asthma, allergic bronchitis, occupational diseases and recoveries after pneumonia and tuberculosis. A study has proved that three months of regular practice of Pranayama results in decreased blood pressure and heart rate compared to medication alone.
Breathing deeply and better quality air helps your immune system work efficiently. You’ll see the difference pranayama can make in your well-being once you start practicing it routinely. Even practicing for 5-10 minutes everyday, simple pranayama like Anulom vilom and Kapalbhati which we have talked about in our guide to pranayama, will help make you healthier and your immune system stronger.