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Wellness Wednesday: Immune-boosting Yoga

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The flexi-facts are in: yoga is far from a fad. Known for its ability to stretch your limbs and strengthen your mind-body connection, consistent practice of yoga has been shown to build self-awareness and self-regulation and help you better discern parts of your body that may need a little extra TLC. But did you know practicing yoga benefits the body in more ways than the obvious? With cold weather season fast approaching, it’s without question that we could all use the added support.

Daily struggles are a part of life, but did you know that psychological strain has the ability to weaken your immune system and can even increase chronic inflammation? Inflammation, the response your immune system has to injury and infection, can be particularly harmful to our health and well-being, especially if it becomes chronic. In a recent study, where Hatha yoga asanas (how yogis say “poses” were trialed to determine their impact on your body’s swelling, researchers found them to diminish pro-inflammatory markers, strengthening your immune system overall! Further studies even found yoga to increase anti-inflammatory cytokines* like IL-10.

Got your mat and mind in place? Here are a few of the immune-boosting yoga poses to try that may get you past the health-hump.

Tadasana (Mountain pose)

The mountain pose, also known as tadasana, is coined the “mother of all yoga poses”. Helping to restore balance and regulate the digestive system, it is intended to initiate unity between your mind and spirit, as well as help increase vitality and energy overall. To do this, stand tall with your legs slightly apart. Look upward and firm up your thigh muscles. Make sure your feet are together, big toes are touching, and have your feet planted firmly on the ground. Strengthen your inner arches as you stretch your arms, puff up your chest and put pressure on the balls of your feet to lift yourself up off the ground. You should feel this stretch from the tip of your toes to the top of your head.

Mountain Pose

Vrikshasana (Tree pose)

Also dubbed the ”tree pose”, Vrikshasana is meant to represent the stable balance of a tree. Not only does this pose strengthen your spine, but it helps nerve-muscle coordination and relaxes the nervous system. To do this one, place the soles of your feet flat on the ground, lift one foot and place it on the inside of the inside of your thigh or calf, always avoiding the knee. Stand tall and hold this pose for 10-12 breaths.

Tree Pose

Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

Said to be one of the greatest immune-boosting asanas, the triangle pose can help improve your blood flow, digestion and blood pressure. The pose itself is simple: spread your legs into a triangle shape, reach both arms out and bend your body sideways until one hand touches the ground and the other reaches up to the sky. Hold this for 30 seconds before you bend the other way.

Triangle Pose

Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

Another digestive driver, the cobra pose can do wonders for your metabolism, heart and lungs. This is best done on an empty stomach, so mornings are the optimal time for this practice. Simply lie on your stomach with both arms stacked on your sides. Raise your torso, head first, and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat as wanted.

Cobra Pose

No matter your level of practice, these poses you are a great way to get you moving. Have a few favourites of your own? Share them with us below!

 

Sources

  • Falkenberg, R. I., Eising, C., & Peters, M. L. (2018). Yoga and immune system functioning: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Behavioral Medicine,41(4), 467-482. doi:10.1007/s10865-018-9914-y
  • Arora, S., Bhattacharjee, J., Gopal, A., Mondal, S., & Gandhi, A. (2011). Effect of integrated yoga practices on immune responses in examination stress - A preliminary study. International Journal of Yoga,4(1), 26. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.78178
  • Morgan, N., Irwin, M. R., Chung, M., & Wang, C. (2014). The Effects of Mind-Body Therapies on the Immune System: Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE,9(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100903
  • Sharma, V. K. (2013). Effect of Yoga on Autonomic Functions and Psychological Status During Both Phases of Menstrual Cycle in Young Healthy Females. Journal Of Clinical And Diagnostic Research. doi:10.7860/jcdr/2013/6912.3451
  • Wei, M., M.D, J.D. (2018, February 22). New Research On How Yoga Boosts Your Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/urban-survival/201802/new-research-how-yoga-boosts-your-immune-system
  • Kiberd, E., Dr. (2015, February 09). 4 Yoga Poses To Boost Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17353/4-yoga-poses-to-boost-immunity.html