Yoga for the Immune System – Boost Immunity and Improve Health Naturally
The immune system – Your personal emergency response team
The immune system is the body’s tool for preventing and fighting infection. Without it, the body would be unable to withstand attacks from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. The vast network of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues that makes up the immune system is responsible for both rapid as well as long-term immune response.
A big part of the immune system is the lymphatic system. It is similar to and for the most part runs parallel to the circulatory system. However, the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own heart to pump lymphatic fluid and therefore relies on the contraction of your muscles to keep moving. Lymph fluid is full of white blood cells and therefore an essential part of the body’s immune response. This fluid nourishes the cells with hormones and nutrients and then in turn collects wastes and toxins to be filtered in the lymph nodes. You can think of the lymphatic system as the body’s personal waste management system.
The immune system is not just an early alert system, it is also a catalyst for relaxation and self-care.
A strong immune system allows for vibrant health and an active life. By identifying and eliminating any foreign pathogens, the immune system protects you from short- and long-term illness, disorder, and disease. From an energetic perspective, supporting the health of the immune system supports healthy boundaries. This relates to the immune system, the thymus, as well as to the heart chakra. When those three function in synergy, they know when something is foreign and needs to be examined, and when something is part of you and can be let in.
Modern science shows that many pathogens can quietly reside within the body for years waiting until its delicate internal balance is disturbed before they attack. Chances are that before you came down with an illness or disease, you were subject to high mental or emotional stress, worked long hours, led a sedentary lifestyle, had poor sleep, and were eating on the go. While not always leading to dis-ease, your immune system will definitely suffer from pushing full-speed ahead while not making sufficient self-care a priority.
How Kundalini Yoga can help keep your immune system active and healthy
Kundalini Yoga is an ancient and holistic practice working on the three facets of self: the body, the mind, and the spirit. It combines rhythmic movement, breathwork, chanting, and meditation along with the traditional asanas or postures.
Amongst the many positive effects yoga can have on health and wellness, a lesser-known one is boosting the immune system. Yoga helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, while also conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function.
Yoga is unlike other forms of exercise that focus only on certain parts of the body. Yoga works on everything.
So if you are looking for a gentle and natural way of supporting your immune system on a day-to-day basis, no matter how hectic your schedule might be, incorporating yoga into your daily routine might be helpful. Here’s how:
6 ways to support your immune system naturally through Kundalini Yoga
Now that we have established how a regular yoga practice boosts your immune system in general, let’s look at 6 specific methods for better health and immunity from the Kundalini Yoga tradition.
Yoga is not just postures and meditations, it’s a whole philosophy that you can incorporate into your lifestyle. One of the most notorious routines in the Kundalini Yoga toolkit is Ishnaan or cold showers. An essential step in the preparation for morning sadhana, cold showers are amazing for good health in general.
Cold showers improve the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid, flushing your organs clean, keeping your skin radiant and the blood chemistry young and healthy. They also stimulate healthy secretions from the glandular system and strengthen the nervous system. In combination with an oil massage or dry brushing before heading into the shower, Ishnaan is the perfect wake-up call for your lymphatic system.
Give it a try – you just might learn to love it!
Since COVID, common colds, and the flu all attack the bronchial passages, it makes sense that training the lungs and maximizing your breathing capacity through pranayama builds resistance to pathogens. Many respiratory illnesses like the abovementioned conditions, allergies, and asthma are directly linked to a weakened immune response due to disturbed, irregular habits of breathing. In turn, breathing deeply, fully, and properly helps boost your immune system and fight off infections.
Try these 3 pranayama practices from the Kundalini Yoga tradition for a strong immune system and better overall health:
Breath of Fire:
Breath of Fire refers to the practice of rapidly, rhythmically, and continuously breathing in and out through the nose while pumping the stomach. It naturally boosts the immune system and may help prevent many diseases. This rapid abdominal breathing also known as Kapalabhati detoxifies your body by releasing toxins and waste deposits from the lungs, blood vessels, and other cells. It also expands lung capacity and increases respiratory health and strengthens the overall nervous system to resist stress.
Pranayama to boost your immune system:
This breathwork practice is very similar to Breath of Fire except that you are breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. This technique is very healing and brings energy to your immune system to fight infection. Feeling a tingling in your toes, thighs, and lower back is an indication that you are doing it correctly.
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with your chin in and your chest out.
Breath: Stick your tongue all the way out and keep it out as you rapidly breathe in and out through your mouth. This is called Dog Breath.
Continue this panting diaphragmatic breath for 3-5 minutes, then inhale, hold your breath for 15 seconds and press the tongue against the upper palate. Exhale. Repeat this sequence two more times.
Even though this might look weird and feel like some New Age nonsense, panting breath is a powerful pranayama technique that actually dates back centuries and is known to cleanse the system and detoxify the body.
Of all the positive changes a person can make, learning to breathe deeply and completely is probably the most effective for increasing health, vitality, and connectedness in one’s life.
Breath of Ten meditation to become dis-ease free:
This meditation may look very simple, but it will totally tune your biorhythm and magnetic field. It signals your immune system to wake up and works towards a disease-free body, enhanced intuition, and an absolutely meditative mind. It has the potential to put your entire chakra system in rhythm.
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine.
Mudra & Movement: Your elbows are bent and your forearms and hands are relaxed in a clapping position at the level of the solar plexus. Your hands move in and out as if you are clapping but they do not touch. Stop the inward motion when the hands are about 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Move slowly and rhythmically.
Breath: The breath is timed with the movement of the hands. Each stroke of the breath is one complete clapping motion. Inhale in five strokes through the nose as you complete five clapping motions. Then exhale in five strokes through the mouth as you complete the next five clapping motions. Continue and do not break the rhythm of the movement and the breath.
Focus: Concentrate on the energy you feel between the palms of your hands.
Continue for 3 minutes. You can gradually increase the time to 11 minutes. To end, inhale and hold the breath for 20 seconds as you press your hands against your face as hard as you can. Exhale. Inhale again, and hold the breath 20 seconds as you press your hands strongly against your heart center. Exhale. Inhale one last time and hold the breath 20 seconds as you press your hands against your navel point. Exhale and relax.
Sound and Mantra
Think of your immune system as an instrument for defense. This instrument can be tuned through the rhythm and quality of the breath along with properly used sound and mantra. Mantra is a specific combination of syllables, words, and rhythms and is based heavily on the science of Naad or sound. Reciting these sacred sounds produces an actual physical vibration which corresponds to both a specific spiritual energy frequency and a state of consciousness and has the power to penetrate deep into your cells.
When chanting mantra, each stroke of breath and each movement of the mouth and tongue releases waves of neuro-chemical messages that create a healing response in the immune system. This improves the use of white blood cells and helps the removal of toxins and the fight against viruses. This connection between sound and the immune system is studied by the relatively new field of psychoneuroimmunology.
Yogic Immune System Booster: The Inner Sun
This advanced immune therapy meditation strengthens your body’s ability to fight viruses and bacteria.
The immune system is intimately connected with the central nervous system, the glands, and the emotions. When you experience chronic feelings of anger, self-defeat, and blame, you can create emotional blocks that deplete the immune system.
This meditation uses a type of breathing called “sunbreath” to stimulate and adjust the sympathetic nervous system and the right brain hemisphere, which stores many of the negative emotions that lead to depression and a lower-functioning immune system.
You may cycle through various emotions as the glandular system starts to shift. Relax and keep going until you are through the emotional inertia and begin to feel more light, energized, and hopeful.
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with the head covered (it is recommended to keep the head wrapped with a scarf, beanie, or turban as you practice this meditation to avoid headaches.)
Mudra: Bend the left arm and raise the hand up to shoulder level with the palm facing forward. Touch the tip of the ring finger to the tip of the thumb (Surya Mudra).
Make a fist with the right hand, pressing the tips of the fingers into the pads at the base of the fingers. Extend the index finger and use it to gently close off the right nostril.
Focus: Close your eyes and concentrate on the Brow Point.
Breath: Begin a steady, powerful Breath of Fire through the left nostril, making sure to emphasize the rhythm and movement of the navel point.
Continue for 3 minutes. To end, inhale deeply and hold the breath. Interlace the fingers with the right thumb over the left and position the hands just below the throat (in front of the thymus), about 14 inches (35 cm) away from the body. Keeping your fingers laced tight, try to pull them apart with all your might. Resist and create great tension. Squeeze as long as you can before exhaling and relaxing the tension in your hands and arms.
Repeat this sequence 3 more times. On the last exhale, discharge the breath by blowing through your upturned lips, with the tongue curled back on the roof of the mouth to seal the upper palate. Then relax.
You can very gradually increase the time to 5 minutes.
The beauty of yoga – A strong immune system for everyone
Supporting the immune system has many benefits and is an important part of life no matter if you’re generally healthy or prone to illnesses. By actively incorporating a yoga practice and some of the techniques mentioned in this article, you can boost your immune system almost as a side effect.
The beauty of yoga is that everyone can benefit from it. Regardless of your experience, fitness level, health status, or time of day – you can enjoy a yoga practice that will support your body and your immune system’s needs.
In addition to your yoga practice, getting quality sleep, consuming a healthy and balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body every day can also aid in boosting your immune system. Be gentle with yourself as you practice, listen to your body’s cues, and enjoy the wonderful benefits of yoga.
If you’re curious to learn more about the ancient practice of Kundalini Yoga or you feel inspired to start your own Kundalini Yoga practice try my self-paced Yoga Beginner Series “Journey to Awakening” now. During this 6-week journey of weekly physical practices as well as bi-weekly workshops and masterclasses, you awaken to your own inner power and experience the joy of movement, breath, mantra, and meditation.
Written by Julia
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