Immunity
15 Case Studies
20 Member Stories
8 Research

What is immunity?

Contrary to popular belief, germs, as opposed to cold weather, cause illness. And what makes us vulnerable to those microscopic crazymakers? Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and life stress all lead to a weakened immune system and vulnerability to illness. More than anything, anxiety leads to a breakdown in the body's ability to defend itself against bacteria and viruses. When stressed, the hormone cortisol remains in the blood for long intervals, which the body develops immunity to, resulting in increased inflammation. 

When ill, antibiotics and other medications can help the body recover from illness. However, what medicine fails to do is enhance the body's immune system. This area is where yoga can help. Yoga is one of the time-tested natural immunity boosters which may cause a healthy, sickness-free body. Yoga lowers stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system. It also helps in stimulating the lymphatic system, which eliminates toxins from the body. Yoga calms the brain and may lead to deeper, controlled sleep, which is a must for health; sleep is among the main factors in healing and maintaining a healthy immune system.

See: How To Lower High Cortisol Levels Naturally

Yoga for boosting immunity

Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. So, to beat the stuffy-nose stereotype this winter, Have a look at these simple yoga poses:

- Shishuasana (Child pose)

Start by sitting on your heels. Keep your hips on the heels, and gently bend forward, and decrease your forehead to the ground. Maintain the arms alongside your body with palms on the floor, palms facing upward. (If this isn't comfortable, you can put one fist on top of another and rest your forehead on them.)

Gently press on your chest on the thighs. Hold. Gradually come up to sit on the heels, uncurling vertebra by vertebra and unwind. Shishuasana is a great pose to decongest the torso and relax the mind.

- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)

Start by lying down comfortably on your back. Then fold your knees and keep your feet hip-distance apart, 10-12 inches out of the pelvis. Keep your knees and ankles aligned in a straight line.

Have your arms beside your body, with palms facing down. As you inhale, slowly lift your back off the ground; lightly roll in the shoulders. Then touch the chest to the chin without bringing down the chin, supporting your weight with your shoulders, arms, and toes. Feel your bottom as it firms up in this pose. Both the thighs are parallel to one another and the ground.

If you desire, you can interlace the fingers and push the palms on the ground to lift the torso slightly more up, or you might encourage your back with your palms. Maintain breathing easily. Hold the position for a moment or two and exhale as you gently release the pose. Setu Bandhasana opens your heart and improves the blood flow, increasing energy within the body.

- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Lie on your back. Your feet are together, and hands relaxed along with the body.

Place the palms underneath the buttocks, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other.

Breathing in, lift the chest, and head up. Keeping the torso elevated, lower the head backward and touch the surface of the head to the ground. With the head lightly touching the ground, press the elbows firmly to the floor.  Place the weight on the elbow rather than on the head. Lift your chest from in-between the shoulder blades and press the legs and thighs to the ground.

Hold the asana position for as long as you comfortably can, taking long gentle breaths in and out. Relax in the position with each exhalation. Now lift the head, lowering the torso and head to the ground. Bring the palms back along the sides of the body. Relax.

- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

Start by lying on your stomach and have your feet flat on the ground and forehead resting on the floor.

Keep your legs close together, with your toes and heels gently touching each other. Place your hands with palms pointing downwards) under your shoulders, keeping your elbows parallel and close to your chest. Take a deep breath in, slowly lift your head, chest, and abdomen while maintaining your navel on the ground. Pull your chest back and off the ground with the aid of your palms.

As you curve your spine, maintain breathing with awareness. If possible, stretch and straighten your arms by arching your back as much as you can; tilt your head back and look up. Keep your shoulders relaxed, even if it means bending your elbows. With regular practice, you'll have the ability to deepen the stretch by straightening the elbows.

Make sure that your toes are still close together. Keep smiling and breathing. Do not overdo the stretch or overstrain yourself. Exercising, gently bring your stomach, chest, and head back into the ground.

- Halasana (Plow Pose)

Lie down on your back as you place your arms beside you, palms pointing downwards. As you inhale, deploy your abdominal muscles to lift your toes off the ground, lifting your legs vertically at a 90-degree angle. Continue to breathe normally, and encouraging your buttocks and back with your hands, lift them off the floor.

Allow your legs to sweep at a 180-degree angle over your head until your toes touch the ground. Your spine should be perpendicular to the ground. This position may be awkward initially, but try for a couple of seconds. Do this slowly and gently. Make certain that you don't strain or push your neck into the ground. Try to hold this pose and let your body relax with every steady breath. After about a minute of resting in this pose, you can gently bring your legs down on exhalation.

Prevent jerking your body while bringing down the legs. Plow pose stimulates the thyroid gland, strengthening the nervous system.

- Dhanurasana (Bow pose)

Lie down on your stomach as you keep your feet at a hip-width distance apart and your arms from your body's side.

Fold your knees and hold your ankles. Breathing in, lift your torso off the floor and pull your legs back and up.

Look straight forward. Maintain the pose stable while paying attention to your breath. Your body is tight as a bow.

Take long, deep breaths as you unwind in this pose. After 15 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and torso to the ground. Publish the ankles and unwind.


See: Active immunity vs. passive immunity in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, Ojas, Agni & immunity

Ayurvedic tips to stay healthy

Ayurveda is thousands of years old from ancient India and is yet more relevant in these trying times. It provides us simple but powerful strategies to strengthen our immunity. This holistic healing method has encouraged individuals to protect and enhance their ojas so that they could more easily recover from and ward off disease.

Ojas can be known as our vital essence. It is a super subtle substance found both in the center and throughout the body, described as a whitish, soft, and sweet fluid. It's the last outcome of wholesome food intake and decent digestion: well, digested food goes on to make our physical body cells, which, in turn, nourish ojas.

The more ojas we have, the better. It gives us energy, strength, and resistance to disease. Ojas is like a shield that resides inside every one of our cells. It won't permit any illness to take root and spread in our body. If our body is strong and healthy, our ojas is powerful, and disease does not have any place to manifest.

So how can we know if we've got good ojas? We will not get sick, feel healthy, happy, and content. Every day, we have many choices to improve our ojas, fortify our energy, and reduce our risk of becoming sick from any type of imbalance, be it physical or psychological. The most prominent source of ojas is your mind. Any activity which makes the mind happy is an ojas booster. All healthy joys are encouraged in Ayurveda and behave like medicine. Laughing, connecting with friends and family members, healthy relationships can nourish ojas.

Stress, on the other hand, is a response of the brain that drains the ojas. The more we manage stress and keep it at bay, the more powerful our ojas. Every one of us needs to reflect on the amount of stress and anxiety we willingly create in our own lives. Wherever we typically push ourselves beyond our capability, we can scale back. This slowdown won't only reduce stress, but it is going to let our ojas to flourish and resistance to grow. Nature has allowed us to remain put, slow down, and look at how we will need to reframe our reality so that we are living harmoniously in ourselves.

Digestion and immunity are intimately linked. A healthy digestive system generates healthy body cells, which produces healthy ojas. Because of this, Ayurveda puts immense emphasis on caring for digestion if we are healthy or sick. No component of our health is unaffected by digestion.

There are a couple of simple, critical practices to maintain robust digestion.

- First, warm and cooked meals are by nature a lot easier to digest than anything raw or cold, which is why these foods are encouraged in Ayurveda.

- Secondly, eating around the same time every day helps our digestive system do its job nicely. Our body thrives on rhythm and regular and can better process the food we put in if it can expect when that will be.

- Ensure your diet is getting you your daily amount of vitamins and minerals

- Adopt Ayurveda for a healthy lifestyle

- Follow basic hygiene practices

- Exercise and meditate regularly

- Detoxify your body by drinking 6 to 8 liters of water daily

- Get an uninterrupted sleep of 6 to 8 hours

- Have more green vegetables in your diet and consume time

Yoga is a holistic practice that not only strengthens our physical body but boosts other systems and brain hormones. Because of this, the body's natural defense mechanisms also enhance. A wholesome, disease-free body is readily accomplished by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This shift includes eating unprocessed, whole foods, keeping a regular meditation and yoga practice, getting tons of sleep, and minimizing stressors. Ayurveda, yoga, and meditation are the keys to achieving our full potential. To reap the immune-boosting outcomes of yoga, make certain to keep a daily practice.

Though a regular yoga practice may result in improved health, be aware it is not a substitute for medical treatment. It's essential to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained instructor. In the event of a health condition, practice yoga postures after consulting with a physician.

Research studies published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine indicate that yoga can reduce inflammation in the body and help improve your immune system.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for immune system

References

1. Yoga and immune system functioning: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Behav Med. 2018 Feb 10. DOI: 10.1007/s10865-018-9914-y.

2. Falkenberg RI, Eising C, & Peters ML. (2018)



See: Yoga Mudras Types and Benefits

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