Doing yoga is a big advantage because the practice supports our immune system to function optimally.
Here are a few reasons how:
01 Reduces Stress Response
Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline present in the sympathetic nervous system. The body orients in a way to prepare for an outside attacker, like a bear. When our body is directed at preparing for a hypothetical bear attack, it’s hard to fight off a virus. Relaxation resulting from a yoga class puts us in our parasympathetic nervous system and our body can redirect our immune system inward to discover and eliminate invading viruses and bacteria.
02 Improves Bone Health
When we practice yoga, we load the bones with a good stress—muscular tension and weight bearing. The bones become stronger and more resilient. All of our blood cells are made inside our bone, including white blood cells. White blood cells are a key in our immune defense.
03 Fosters Good Circulation
Stretching and moving in a yoga practice helps improve our muscular health which helps to move our blood more easily through our circulatory system. Blood carriers nutrients to and toxins away from our vital parts. Immune cells also travel through our blood system. Better circulation boosts the effectiveness of our immune cells ability to keep us healthy!
04 Supports Healthy Lymph Flow
Lymph is a clear fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria, viruses, and anything foreign and delivers it to the nodes to be filtered. Unlike the blood that has the heart as a pump to circulate, lymph requires contraction and movement of the muscles to squeeze lymph through the vessels. Gravity is also a mover of lymph. Therefore, deep breathing and yoga postures can be a great mover of lymph. Inversions, twists, forward folds, and side bends are all examples of yoga postures that promote lymphatic flushing. The lymphatic system is our immune system's first line of defense. A healthy lymphatic system is a powerful boost to keep our immune system strong.
05 Regulates Sleep
Yoga helps us to regulate our nervous system. When we breath slower and deeper and cultivate mindfulness, we train ourselves how to regulate our nervous system--learning the balance between sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems. Yoga helps us access our parasympathetic nervous system which keeps us calm and helps us sleep. Better sleep provides our bodies the rest they need for optimal immune function.