Expert Opinions — Article
January 28 2016 | by Kristin McGee
Yoga boosts more than our spirits.
As the colder months set in, practicing yoga is an incredible way to help keep our immune systems strong and help fight off the colds and flus that are so common this time of year.
Usually, we come down with something when we are stressed or pushing ourselves too hard. We are also more susceptible to getting sick when we’re run down from lack of sleep, eating too many packaged foods, not getting enough healthy vitamins and antioxidants from fresh fruits and veggies, and getting little-to-no exercise.
Yoga is a practice of balance; the poses provide a gentle, natural way of supporting the immune system that helps lower stress hormones, stimulates the lymphatic system, opens up the lungs, and oxygenatess the blood. Yoga keeps us on an even keel throughout the day so we can stay strong, healthy, fit and balanced. These poses in particular help keep the immune system humming along!
In addition to practicing yoga, focus on getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, eating a healthy, varied diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and carotenoids, drink plenty of water, and do something you enjoy for yourself each day to stay healthy (and happy) all winter long.
But, if you do nothing else, try this immunity boosting yoga workout three to four times a week and you’ll “namaste” away the sniffles this winter! Start with Child’s Pose to clear the mind and settle into the breath. Then go through each one of the postures below.
Child’s Pose—Helps the body (and mind) unwind after a long day and opens up the back, shoulders and neck, while also working to relieve stress (which can weaken our immune systems). Hold five to eight breaths.
Downward-Facing Dog—Gets the blood pumping throughout our entire body and releases tension in our head, neck, shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings. Breathe here for 5 to 8 full breaths.
Wide Straddle Forward Bend—Oxygenates the body and allows the weight of the world to fall off our backs and shoulders. Stay here for 8-10 breaths.
Shoulderstand—Great for letting the blood flow in reverse and stimulating the lymphatic system. Stagnant lymph (many of us deal with stagnation during the winter months) makes us more vulnerable to catching a bug. Stay here for up to 3-5 minutes.
Seated Spinal Twist —Twists are great for wringing out the organs and helping with elimination and detoxification. Twists also help us unwind and ease any tension in the back, hips, and shoulders. You can also stay lying down and do a supine twist if you prefer.