Yoga

5 Yoga Poses That Support High-Functioning Immune Health

Mercey Livingston

Photo: Getty/FreshSplash
Taking care of your immune system is always a top priority, but especially now, as we prepare for cold and flu season against the backdrop of the pandemic. A whole slate of healthy habits, including sleep, exercise, and a nutrient-rich diet plan contribute to a healthy immune system. And, in fact, certain yoga moves in particular are posited to help you in they immune health arena.

According to Kyle Miller and Sian Gordon, founders of the dreamy Los Angeles-based yoga studio, Love Yoga, the exercise modality is a helpful strategy for boosting your immunity. Research backs up the claim, too, with evidence that yoga practice can help reduce stress, specifically on your endocrine system, which can do a lot of good when it comes to helping fighting colds and flus. "Yoga postures allow you to stimulate organs and up their function," Miller says. In particular, the digestive system, as well as the respiratory system, are two key areas of the body you can focus on in your yoga practice to help improve immunity.

"Twisting postures help you to stimulate the GI tract and ensure that everything moves through after it's processed and assimilated," Miller. With that in mind, roll out your mat and try these twisting yoga moves to boost immunity that focus on the lungs and digestive tract.

5 yoga moves that are connected to optimal immune health

1. Kappalabhati

"This technique is designed to stimulate the thymus gland, located behind your sternum and in-between your lungs, which happens to be a major player in the function of your immune system," explains Miller. (It's an integral part of your lymphatic system, FYI.) To activate yours, extend your arms out and, with every exhale, tap the center of your chest. The breath is forceful exhalations through the nose. Start with 20 and build towards 100 pumping breaths.

2. Open and close the windows

You know how the first thing you want to do when you're ready to do a big cleanup in your house is to open the windows and welcome in fresh air? This technique is kind of like that but is letting fresh air enter your body instead. Grab opposite elbows and inhale while your arms are above your head, then exhale as they come in front of the chest. Start with a count of 20 and build towards 100.

3. Ardha matsyendrasana

"Ring yourself out and make sure the digestive tract isn't causing any harmful stagnation through this deep, yet simple, twisting posture," says Miller. In a seated position, cross your right leg over your left, bracing your ankle behind your left knee. Stay seated upright by placing your right arm behind you at the base of your butt, and gently twist so that your left elbow is hooked behind your right knee. Hold for 5 to 20 breaths, then repeat on the other side. Allow yourself to lengthen as you inhale and deepen the twist as you exhale.

4.  Supported fish

To set up this pose, place one yoga block between your shoulder blades at its tallest height, and then stack two additional blocks behind your head (adjust their height positions to your specific needs so that you can keep your head elevated slightly above your chest). Lie down over the props with your arms and legs extended. "Close your eyes and relax in this restorative pose that should help the lungs move forward from your body rather than hang in the back," says Miller. Hold the pose for as long as it takes you to count breaths that correlate to your age (i.e. if you're 25, hold for 25 breaths).

5. Spinal twist

From a low lunge with the back knee down, place your hands in pray in front of your chest and rotate them toward your front leg. Leverage the contact between your outer arm and knee to revolve you into a gentle spinal twist. "Imagine yourself as a vessel, cleaning out the container so you can put more of what you want into it," Miller says. Hold the twist on each side for five long breaths.

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