Perhaps most commonly known for its ability to promote relaxation and a sense of calm, yoga has grown in popularity over the years throughout countries around the world. Unlike many other workout routines that require bulky equipment, yoga has the rare ability to be practiced anywhere, often with no additional equipment necessary. However, more than just a means to gain a higher sense of relaxation and improve flexibility, yoga possesses the power to boost the immune system when done regularly.
With winter in full swing and the holiday season that surely contained some less than healthy indulgences behind us, there is no better time to look for ways to improve your immune system. Even if you’ve never tried yoga, or don’t think you have what it takes for all those wild positions, read on. You might be surprised how easy it is to get started, and when you do, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier life.
Where to Start?
Although a bit more involved than simply crossing your legs and exhaling deeply, the most commonly used yoga poses aren’t difficult. The more you do them, the easier they become and the more your body adapts.
The following poses are great for beginners and for anyone looking to ward off sickness this winter. Yoga as a whole helps with relaxation, which gives the immune system what it needs to better defend itself against germs, as well as strengthening the respiratory system and keeping vital organs supplied with fresh blood.
Downward Facing Dog
This extremely well-known yoga pose is often one of the first that a new yoga student learns. It can feel a little strange at first, but the position is relatively easy on your body and you should be able to feel comfortable in it after just a few sessions or classes.
Downward facing dog is one of the best positions to assist with the sinuses and head, by improving blood flow and increasing oxygen. The average cold or flu often attacks these areas first and makes them congested and irritated.
The Cobra Pose has the potential to feel a bit more unnatural than downward facing dog and is typically attempted after a few sessions of class. Because the pose puts a fair amount of pressure on the back and wrists, those who are weak in these areas should be cautious. However if you feel comfortable in trying out something new, the cobra pose is ideal for opening up the chest – and if you’ve ever been sick before, you know how quickly your chest can tighten up and become painful.
Likewise, this pose also assists in stretching the abdominal area, which helps with better digestion and relieving gas pain. The cobra pose is very effective if done regularly, because it will strengthen abdominal muscles over time.
The child’s pose remains one of the most common positions in yoga, and for good reason! It is almost overly simple, but is very effective for the immune system. This pose helps open up the chest and sinuses, helping the blood flow better through those areas. It also stretches the back, spine, and shoulder muscles – all of which assist in getting rid of minor aches and pains that typically accompany the flu or colds.
When you first begin practicing yoga, you may find that you actually have new aches and pains that weren’t there before. This is just your body acclimating to a new exercise, and they will go away as you get used to the activity. Soon you’ll be feeling healthier and stronger than ever before.
In addition to boosting your immune system and warding off sickness, yoga makes your entire body stronger, which is beneficial for people of all ages.
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