As temperatures drop, colds and flus are on the rise–and there’s never a good time to get sick. Avoid getting knocked out during the seasonal transition using yoga.
Yoga stimulates the four main physiological systems linked to immune function: circulatory, digestive, nervous and endocrine systems. Yoga asanas that affect at least one of these four systems bolster immune function. Practicing certain poses also increases adrenal activity and enhances the respiratory system. Super-charge these systems using yoga asanas and pranayama breathing. Try practicing the following poses to keep your body running its best this season.
Power Pose: Inversions
Head stand and shoulder stand are known as cooling inversions. Both calm the nervous system and reverse blood flow, improving circulation. Inversions improve immunity by stimulating the key player in illness prevention: The lymphatic system. As lymph moves through the body, it filters toxins and bacteria to eliminate via the lymph nodes. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity; going upside down allows lymph to more easily travel into the respiratory system to remove toxins.
Power Pose: Backbends
Backbends open up the shoulders and chest, stretching and strengthening muscles that help lungs expand and inflate by opening up the rib cage. This increases lung capacity, supporting diaphragmatic breathing instead of shallow chest breathing, which delivers less oxygen with increased effort. Backbends improve respiratory function, so breathing can be more efficient; in turn, strong respiratory muscles improve the flow of oxygen-rich blood to maintain healthy immune and respiratory function.
Power Pose: Cat & Cow
“These are great yoga moves to get the breath flowing, keep the spine open and healthy and help all organs work in synchronicity,” says Gwen Lawrence, yoga teacher to professional athletes and founder of Power Yoga For Sports. “They force the inhale and exhale so even the lower functioning lungs can improve and get stronger. Do these moves 1-3 minutes.”
Power Pose: Plow
“It opens the back of the neck and occipital area,” says Lawrence. “It is also an inversion, without the balance element.” This releases tension and allows better drainage of sinuses and glands. According to the expert, plow pose is great for flushing stagnancy in the glands and sinuses out of the body.
Power Pose: Supported Fish
The supported variation of fish pose opens the chest, as well as the anterior shoulders and the upper back. “Poor posture is one of the culprits of accumulating stress lowering your resistance to germs, therefore leading to colds,” says Lawrence. “It also flushes the glands and pumps the thyroid. Personally, I believe everybody in the world should do this everyday!”
Give your immune system an extra boost to fight off the flu with a few tasty fermented foods.