Yoga for your Immune System

Article by Sue Fuller

For thousands of years Yoga has helped practitioners to achieve optimum levels of health and vitality.  When yoga postures are mindfully performed and combined with slow controlled breathing techniques they help to strengthen the immune system. Yoga helps to remove toxins from the body, stimulate the thymus gland (which plays an important role in the development of the immune system), increase lymphatic drainage (the lymphatic system relies solely on muscular contractions to function, exercise will therefore improve the functioning of this system) and induce deep relaxation (during times of complete rest the immune system is able to work to destroy foreign bodies and bacteria).  Breathing techniques (pranayamas) will help to clear mucus from the sinuses and clear the lungs helping them remain free from minor infections.

The following Yoga techniques will help to boost your immune system.
Breath for Life (Part 1)
The breath for life will cleanse the respiratory tract and enhance lymphatic drainage helping to remove toxins from the breasts and torso.

Begin sitting in Sukhasana (the easy pose) with the ankles crossed and a straight spine.  Bend your elbows and position them against your lower ribs.  Lightly clench the fists and turn the palms up.  Inhale and reach the right arm forward in front of your sternum, open your hand and turn the palm down, the exhalation is performed with a short sharp contraction of the diaphragm as you do this return to your starting position. Repeat on the other side.  Continue this technique start slowly and gradually get quicker and quicker.  Continue this technique for approximately two minutes.

Rest in sukhasana with the eyes lightly closed breathing slowly in and out through the nose.
Breath for life (Part 2)
From sukhasana lift the arms out level with the shoulders.  Breathe in and lift the right arm whilst lowering the left arm.  Make sure that the arms move in one piece.  As you exhale lift the left arm and lower the right.  Again start slowly and gradually speed up.   Continue this technique for approximately two minutes.

Rest in sukhasana with the eyes lightly closed breathing slowly in and out through the nose.
Majaryasana (Cat) and Balasana (Child)
Performing Cat will help move prana (vital life force) along the spine, open the chest and finishing in pose of the child will help induce a relaxed state.

Place your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Relax the tops of your feet towards the floor. As you exhale round your back up towards the ceiling and drop your chin towards your chest. As you inhale reverse the position by dropping the stomach down towards the floor and lifting the lower back, chest and head.  Continue linking breath and movement breathing slowly through the nose for 10 more breath cycles.

When you have finished, move to pose of the child.   Lower your hips onto your heels, release your forehead to the floor and relax your arms along side your body whilst directing your fingers to your feet.  Remain here for at least five minutes breathing slowly.

Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher, writer and well-being expert. She is the founder of www.yoga2hear.co.uk  the online store where you can purchase her range of 40 audio yoga classes on CD and MP3 download including Yoga on a Chair. Sue also owns www.wellbeingworldonline.com a one stop shop featuring high quality downloadable yoga, pilates, meditation, relaxation and sound healing classes from a worldwide collection of inspirational teachers and experts.