Did you know that practicing yoga can boost your immune system by promoting lymphatic regularity and nourishing your tissues with oxygen-rich blood cells?
Healthy lymph flow is a key element of a strong immune system, and fortunately yoga poses can help that flow. Unlike the circulatory system, which is driven by our pumping heart, the lymphatic system depends on gravity as well as on tissues contracting to squeeze fluid through its vessels. This makes yoga poses like twists, forward folds, side bends, and inversions the perfect tools to boost lymph flow.
Your lymphatic system plays an essential role in healthy immunity, circulation and detoxification. It is a complex network of vessels found throughout the body (especially in the fascial system) that efficiently circulates lymphocytes, disease fighting antibodies, metabolic byproducts and lymph fluid to keep your body vital.
Contracting your muscles as you move and breathe in yoga acts as a pump for the lymphatic system. Mindful, vigorous movement of any kind helps the lymphatic system flow more efficiently, however, yogic techniques in particular also help mitigate harmful effects of stress on your body. This combination builds the base for strong immunity.
Yoga is unlike other forms of exercise that focus only on certain parts of the body because truth is, yoga works on everything.
Yoga practitioners can attest that yoga practice provides a gentle, natural means of supporting the immune system on a day-to-day basis, no matter how hectic your schedule might be. 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.
Try these 3 Yoga Practices to Boost Your Immune System:
1. Legs resting up the wall pose
Scoot your hips close to the wall and lay down on your back, sliding your heels upward. Set a timer for 6 to 10 minutes and rest on your back. Don’t have a wall? Sling your feet up on the seat of a chair. Gentle, supported inversions help promote lymphatic flow, reduce swelling and remove excess build-up of fluid around major organs.
2. Foot Massage with Self-Myofascial Release
Grab a tennis ball and roll the bottom of your foot on the ball from heel to toe. Use medium pressure so that it feels reassuring to the tissues but is easy to control the movement. After 3 minutes, decrease the pressure significantly and “scribble” the ball in all directions like its a marker making random patterns on the bottom of your foot. This encourages lymphatic return and can help re-circulate disease fighting lymphocytes all over the body.
3. Diaphragm Strengthening
Roll up a towel and slide it under the soft part of your belly as you lie down in sphinx pose: belly down, chest supported by the forearms. Take 10 cleansing inhales and exhales; inhale through the nose and exhale a loud sigh out of the mouth. The lymphatic system helps to remove toxins and other natural metabolic byproducts from the bloodstream through perspiration, bowel movements and breathing, keeping your body healthy.
If you have tried yoga and find it is not for you today, don't give up - try a different teacher or a different style another day. Find what resonates with you so you look forward to practising everyday at home as well as attending class, and as soon as you feel (and see) the benefits, you'll certainly become hooked along with improved immunity and a sense of serenity and peace!