Why it is Important to Strengthen Your Immune System
- Do you frequently feel tired, or lack enough energy to get through your day?
- Are you always catching a cold or infection?
- Are you experiencing an excess of stress in your life, along with stomach and digestion issues?
These are signs you might have a weak immune system, which can cause a whole host of problems for your mind and body. A poor immune system can cause you to feel tired and stressed all of the time, and leave you vulnerable to viruses and chronic illness. A weakened immune system also makes it difficult for your body to heal itself and prevent infection. You might get lots of headaches, and/or experience poor circulation, problems with your digestion, and develop autoimmune disorders. Basically, a weak immune system isn’t something you want to leave unchecked. It is important for all of us to participate in practices to strengthen the immune system.
Practices to Strengthen Immunity
If you feel you might have a low immune system, don’t worry — there are things you can do to help bring yourself back into good health. Eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep are all good places to start.
Developing a regular practice of yoga can give your immune system a strong boost.
Yoga can actually help improve your immune system by calming your nervous system, oxygenating your blood, increasing your lung capacity, and flushing your organs.
Yoga also supports your lymphatic system, which is why it’s so beneficial to your body’s immunity. Blocked lymph nodes can negatively affect your immune system, and yoga offers us a way to clear and drain the lymphatic system.
Yin Yoga for a Better Immune System
When it comes to balancing the lymphatic system, Yin Yoga can be supportive to effectively drain your lymph nodes and strengthen your immune system. Through regular practice of Yin Yoga poses, you can work with your lymphatic system in a direct way.
Yin Yoga also benefits your mind.
By holding each pose for a longer length of time — allowing your body to sink deeper into the stretch — your busy mind gets the chance to release tension, stress, and anxiety. In my classes at MyYogaTeacher, I will often teach some of the following Yin Yoga postures to help my students balance their lymphatic systems and thereby strengthen their immune systems. Each of these poses help clear and drain your lymph nodes, along with relaxing your body and giving your mind some much-needed rest.
Yin Yoga Sequence for Immunity
These 5 restorative Yin Yoga poses can help you bring your immune system back into balance, and can be practiced at home or in a Yin Yoga class.
1. Seated Neck Stretches
It’s important to address the lymph nodes in your neck, and you can help them release fluid build-up through some simple neck stretches.
Sit comfortably on the floor, or on a block or blanket, and fully relax your shoulders. Gently tilt your head so that you are bringing your right ear down toward your right shoulder. Be careful not to force it, only stretching as far as your body feels comfortable.
Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on your left side. Alternate back and forth three times, and finish with some soft head rolls.
2. Cat Cow Pose
After your neck rolls, move your body so that your hands and knees are on the floor. Start the Cat/Cow movement by slowly arching your back and lifting your chin to look upward.
As you exhale, reverse the movement by curling your spine and bringing your chin to your chest, looking down toward your belly button.
Repeat this movement for 2-3 minutes, stretching your back muscles and contracting your abdomen, allowing lymphatic fluid to drain and circulate.
3. Downward Facing Dog
From here, push your hips up and position yourself on your hands and feet in the Downward Dog pose. This simple yoga posture puts your head below your heart, using gravity to drain your lymph nodes. Hold the Downward Dog pose for 1-3 minutes, making sure to breathe mindfully.
4. Low Lunge
Another great way to help flush your lymph nodes is by squeezing them in a lunge. And if you can, turn that lunge into a twist to give your lymph nodes an extra squeeze.
To practice a twisting lunge, bring your left foot forward, and drop your right knee to the floor into a deep lunge. Then, slowly rotate your abdomen so that your right elbow rests on the outer part of your lower thigh.
Bring your hands into a prayer position and hold for 2-3 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
5. Standing Forward Fold
This is one of the most basic yoga postures, and with regular practice it can also help lymphatic fluid circulate throughout your body.
After your lunges, stand at the top of your mat, and fold forward, placing your hands on the floor, or resting them on a block. Hold and rest in this position for 2-3 minutes.
At the end of this practice, you can add one more pose to your Yin Yoga sequence to further assist your lymphatic system.
Simply lie down next to a wall, place a rolled up towel or blanket under your lower back/hips. Then bring your legs up so that they are resting on the wall in front of you. Stay in this pose for at least 3-5 minutes and let your body fully relax.
Annelise Piers specializes in physical and emotional healing, using a combination of Yin Yoga, essential oils and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) metaphor therapy. At MyYogaTeacher, she teaches Yin, Hatha, Pranayama (breathing), and meditation. She is a qualified Hatha and Yin yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance USA, and licensed under co-founder Dr. Richard Bandler and the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (USA & UK).