Many people practice yoga as a form of physical exercises — a series of asanas or postures used to gain health and fitness. They know that the purpose of yoga asanas and breathing techniques is to attain optimum health, to be in one’s best possible physical condition.
We use yoga to support our entire body and in doing so we reap its benefits: keeping us fit and alert but also things like helping to improve and maintain the body’s immune system. The immune system is one of the body’s best friends and yoga is a fantastic way for keeping it in shape, helping us to have an overall whole health in both body and mind.
What Is the Immune System?
Whenever we get sick or are affected by some bad germs it is the immune system that comes to our aid. It does so much for us that it is truly in our interest to take good care of it.
When you understand what it does for you, and how many things affect it, you can take steps to watch out for its health, and in the process better your own health.
An immune system that is functioning well prevents illness and promotes healing, so common infections and ailments get tackled and prevented from really doing us harm.
Our immune system consists of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body and fight off infections and diseases. It uses defensive cells, which are among the white blood cells, as agents and these are transferred around the body by the lymphatic system, one of the body’s systems.
The immune and lymphatic systems are two closely related organ systems which share several organs and physiological functions. While the immune systems overall function is to prevent and limit infection, the lymphatic system is a partner system to it and has its own functions.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a system of capillaries, vessels, and organs that transport a fluid called lymph from the tissues as it returns to the bloodstream. The lymph is a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells that travels throughout the body.
The lymphatic tissue in these organs filters and cleans the lymph of any debris, disease or abnormal cells. It helps to rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
Lymph is a clear and colorless fluid and the word “lymph” comes from the Latin word lympha, which means “connected to water.”
The lymphatic system uses lymphatic vessels, which are found running alongside the blood vessels and capillaries, to pick up waste material and other substances that are too large to be taken by our blood and carry it to lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered.
- The Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are a communication hub where immune cells (lymphocytes) sample information brought in from the body. We have many nodes in our body found in places like our throat, armpits, groin, and back of the knees.
Sometimes doctors may check patients for swollen lymph nodes, which can indicate that we have an active immune response. These nodes are the site of antibody production so when we find the nodes to be swollen (like swollen glands in our neck) it shows that they are working hard to protect us.
Using Yoga To Improve The Lymphatic System
With yoga we can use asana practice to improve the immune system’s lymphatic circulation. Practicing dynamic poses and flow sequences, while moving in and out with breath focus, pumps your muscles and improves the flow of the lymphatic fluids through your body.
In this way, the breathing conditions the lungs and respiratory tract and stimulates the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, It helps to bring enriched blood to the various organs and ensures that they have optimal functioning.
More Benefits From Yoga
The best benefit yoga offers for the immune system is by reducing stress levels. It does this with smooth breathing that lowers the stress hormones which bother or limit the immune system.
All of our body’s systems are viewed as separate or unique yet they are very related as part of our whole body system. When they work together in harmony and give us overall good health we feel the richness and are grateful for it.
At the same time if we see that one system goes out of balance, then the whole body gets unbalanced and we find difficulty. Yoga helps us balance our system and maintain good overall health.
Using Meditation to Improve the Immune System
Along with yoga we can use meditation to cultivate balance in our bodily systems, and in our body in general, to keep our health and immune system at the top of their game.
Yoga postures, pranayama, relaxation and meditation are good tools to help stimulate the immune response and aid us in being whole and staying grounded. With these tools we can build, nourish, support, and strengthen our immunity, along with improving our quality of life.
With asanas and pranayama we have mentioned that we can build strong health and improve the immune system’s lymphatic circulation. The body’s thymus gland and the immune system are stimulated by postures where we open the chest, breathe deeply into it and increase blood flow.
Some good poses to promote the bloods circulation are:
- Child’s pose
- Hand stand
- Downward Dog
- Forward Bends
These poses encourage the face to drop down so the head receives more blood, oxygen and nutrients.
Other good poses to gain calmness and aid the immune system are:
- Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
- Sit in a cross-legged position (Sukhasana)
- Sun Salutation
Using Relaxation and Meditation
Practicing poses in a relaxed way with focused breathing can calm the body and mind and is good against stress, helping the nervous system. Relaxing gives the breath a chance to slow down and can bring you closer to finding peace.
The relaxation time at the end of a yoga class is a great time to review and reflect on your practice and watch the breathing as your whole system calms down and destresses.
Many times we have the chance to transition through this period to get to a meditation time after we practice. The meditation gives us an opportunity to look within and spend time with ourselves that is not busy or cluttered with the daily activities. This is the real chance to gain peace.
By doing yoga and meditation together we are learning practical methods for reducing the risk of illness and keeping the immune system strong.
Yoga Helps You Get Better Sleep
Many studies have proven that yoga and meditation together can help you stay healthy and keep your immune system functioning optimally. It’s a big help to you overall to get a good night’s sleep and yoga with meditation can be really helpful for improving sleep.
When you sleep good it is more than just restful, it allows your body and its systems to rejuvenate and get strong for all the activities of your busy day.
The best way to grow older and stay in top shape is to practice good habits and take care of the body’s systems, like the immune system and the lymphatic system.
We should also try to live healthily, which includes eating well, exercise, and having a good work-life balance so we stay strong and focused too. Doing yoga and meditation helps promote the mind-body connection and this harmony is truly beneficial for all of you, including your immune system.
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