The world is changing and I daresay it will become a better place. Being an eternal optimist, I will nevertheless say it: The earth will become a healthier place precisely due to Corona. This hope however does not change the fact that I am deeply distressed at the increasing human cost being extracted by this epidemic.
The Human Body
The human body is a self-sustaining engineering marvel, created by nature through holistic processes that are beyond the ken of any human mind. Science does have a basic understanding of it, but in a rudimentary schematic fashion. Humanity has made so-called breakthrough discoveries and progress in various fields such as genetic engineering, cloning, surgery, psychology, medicine, manufacturing and space travel; but each of these fields is fragmented, cut-off from other knowledge sinks. These fields have a blinkered subject specific view and do not comprehend life, the body and the universe as belonging to a singular continuum or state of unity.
Difference between the scientific and yogic understanding of life and body
At the current state of science, life is viewed and understood as a series of systemic functions. Correspondingly modern medicine and healing also takes a piecemeal approach to treating the human body. Yogic science however treats the body as a whole. Here each body function is dependent upon all the well-being of all other body parts and their functions. Optimum health is an outcome of optimal diet, exercise, sleep and breathing.
Stress and modern lifestyle are an enemy of your health
Modern day living and its vices are particularly damaging to the human immune system. Contemporary lifestyle subjects the body and immunity to a rather large array of artificial and destructive influences: unhealthy diets, alcohol, smoking, drug abuse, stress etc. All these factors contribute to a reduction of ability of the immune system to identify and tackle challenges. Stress has become a very commonplace and largely accepted outcome of life nowadays; this more than anything else contributes to a breakdown in the body’s ability to defend itself against bacteria and viruses.
When stressed, the hormone cortisol stays in the blood for extended periods of time, to which the body develops a resistance, leading to increased internal inflammation. Cortisol is nature’s built-in alarm system; and your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. Cortisol is responsible for the body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis. Besides cortisol also plays an important role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:
- controls how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- prevents inflammation
- the regulation of blood pressure
- increases blood sugar (glucose) in the system
- controls your sleep/ waking cycle
- boosts energy to help handle stress and to restore balance afterward
Hence a cortisol imbalance – too little or too much, will understandably be detrimental to the above metabolic functions. For instance, when your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system, or even your growth processes.
Stress impairs the immune system’s ability to cope with and eliminate harmful microbes. One such microbe, the corona-virus has suddenly gained scarily dangerous proportions. It has created an epidemic across the world and has had fatal consequences for hundreds of thousands across the globe, old and young. It has proven to be especially devastating for aging people. The coronavirus however, on a whole, is not a new entity for the human body. The corona-virus belongs to the family of viruses which causes the common-cold and other influenza like respiratory illnesses in humans. A healthy body and immune system are perfectly capable of warding off this virus.
Yoga and Meditation boost immunity
As recognized, regular practice of yoga is like a great health insurance policy. Yoga stimulates both components of our autonomic immune system – the parasympathetic (PNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In other words, doing yoga boosts the immune system as a whole. In addition, yogic breathing exercises are known to be particularly beneficial to the respiratory system. As already widely known and experienced, our breath has a direct correlation with stress and tension. For the purpose of stress reduction therefore, I am going to talk about yoga techniques that affect the parasympathetic nervous system. The good news is that yoga balances & stimulates the PNS, or calming side of the equation. This in turn is proven to reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. You learn how to control your breathing during āsana (maintained body posture) practice, and also during specific breathing exercises known as Prānāyāma, as also while meditating. All of these yoga practices have been shown to reduce your blood pressure and the heart rate. This in turn fortifies your immune system and helps it respond more effectively when dealing with challenges such as corona-virus related ailments.
A simple QED therefore: yoga poses boost immunity. And we all have read, heard and seen how compromised immunity multiplies the severity of Covid-19; it has lead to fatalities in hundreds of thousands of cases.
Below are a few photos where I walk you through yoga sequences or āsanas that will not only help to de-stress the nervous system and calm your mind; these are known to strengthen the immune system and support the body in warding off illness. These are yoga poses that boost immunity.
The Padmāsana for practicing prānāyām stimulates our internal organs and helps balance our hormones. The rhythmic breathing cleanses our respiratory passages and consequently our lungs. The lungs as we all know, are responsible for extracting the oxygen out of the air and supplying it to our bodies; this process also involves removing the impurities in the air and detoxing our body and its organs. Fresh oxygen is very essential to the smooth functioning of all our body systems and hence also the immune system.
The rhythmic pattern of the breath and our focus on it also helps in creating a meditative ambiance in our mind. Meditation calms the mind, removes anxiety and assists body functions, allowing the immune system to stay alert.
The Vrikshasana: The importance of vrikshasana (tree pose) comes from the fact that you (the practitioner) has to learn to find his or her inner balance and synchronize it with the breath. This asana helps you to automatically clear your mind, because it requires a lot of focus to achieve and maintain.
The best time to practice this asana is the morning hours, under the sun. According to the theoretical significance, this asana helps you create a pyramid like shape that helps draw energy from the sun and distribute it equally across our body.
Sunlight is an essential element of life, and boosts our health and immunity naturally.
The Dhanurasana (Bow pose) is a great way to help your lungs get more oxygen. During this pose, the rib-cage gets stretched – opening the lungs and helping it increase it’s breathing capacity. As previously determined, there is a direct correlation between our breath and our immune system. Hence, doing this asana helps fortify the immune system automatically, besides improving your flexibility, reducing belly fat and stimulating the spinal cord.
The Ardha-matsyendra-asana stimulates the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. Insulin, in turn, helps control our sugar; it regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells. Of course good health of our blood, liver and bones is very essential to having a strong immunity. Please remember our body is not just the sum of all its organs; but viewed from a yogic lens, our body is but one system, that requires a balance of all its organs & systems, including the immune system for optimal operation.
Last but by no means the least, I would like to mention that this asana helps people afflicted by diabetes, both type 1 and 2, manage their diabetes. And if you have diabetes, you already understand the direct connection between insulin, health, and the immune system.
Yoga is the path to balance and inner strength
CoVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus and the human immune system has been caught off-guard. As we all watch the figures roll in, we can roughly calculate that this ailment has had a fatality rate of roughly 6 to 8% so far. It has been said that about 80% of those who catch CoVID will experience only mild symptoms. These are mostly people whose metabolisms and immune-systems are in balance. Now, I will not claim that yoga is either a cure or a vaccine, but out of personal experience of working with a range of patients I can affirm with confidence that it helps the body build, maintain an optimal balance and functioning; and that will automatically translate into a healthy immune system.
A strong immune system is of course an enviable asset especially at a time such as this.
Yoga mat? What’s that??
If you’re looking for the perfect mat to practice on at home, check out some eco-friendly recommendations in the Yoga-gear section of the website. A good yoga mat is a useful tool to help enhance your practice and postures, so yes, please do try to get yourself a mat on which you feel comfortable. However, please do not let the lack of a mat turn into an excuse for delaying practice and neglect strengthening your immunity. In the Covid era, the experience of weak supply chains is a stark reality that we may have to learn to live with for some time.
So, I am offering a few suggestions below that will assist you to begin your practice ASAP. A dedicated mat is a great tool when learning and practicing yoga, but remember: the purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment; to be a system of increasing self-awareness and to decrease disease. The purpose of a yoga mat is consequently just to aid body awareness and regulation. A mat is therefore simply a rectangular piece of PVC or natural or recycled rubber, jute organic cotton or natural cotton; its main function is to provide proper traction and cushioning; to reduce the stress on your joints. It also increases your stability and prevents your body from slipping when it gets sweaty.
So, keeping these points in mind you can find many alternate materials at home that will provide similar benefits as a yoga mat. Here are few tips to replace a mat when you do not have one nearby:
- Beach Towels. They aren’t just for lounging by the pool!
- Woven Blankets. Take those extra throw blankets out, fold them into a long rectangular and — voila!
- A Grassy Lawn.
- The Beach.
- Grippy Socks.
- A Bath Mat.
- Wooden flooring
? – Om: for health & in peace – ?
13 thoughts on “Covid crazy world: boost immunity with Yoga!”
I absolutely love this article, thank you so much for taking the time to write it and share it with us.
I have practised yoga for a few years now, but have never truly thought about the benefits you have mentioned.
I also never knew the benefits you have spoken about for those specific poses, they are ones I will certainly be looking to implement on a regular basis.
I couldn’t agree with you more than the modern day approach to life is so damaging to our health and our bodies, but knowing that there are things that we can do and take control of is really encouraging.
Here’s to good health and yogic living
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, yoga and more specifically the three asanas mentioned has all the benefits I have listed in the article. From my personal experience of more than two decades, I know and have felt all the listed benefits. So, for a beginner, following these three yoga poses or exercises would offer him or her benefits of an improved immunity. Yoga as a science is the perfect way to health.
Yoga helps return the balance to our body and mind. If you practice yoga regularly, you will automatically begin feeling better about yourself. And when you feel better, healthier – you will naturally make healthier choices in life.
If you wish to get more tips on yoga & holistic exercise, follow my insta handle @ sutra_himani
Thanks again and cheers,
I haven’t done yoga and I have a few questions.
Aside from boosting immunity, would yoga also help us if we have a chronic illness, like diabetes and hypertension? This is a general question.
Specifically, for COVID infection, if someone is affected already and maybe just mild to still allow him to do yoga, will it help to prevent complications or make the illness shorter in duration?
Diabetes, hypertension and many other chronic body conditions can be managed very well with yoga. Such conditions occur mainly due to the imbalance of the body and its hormones. These are also exacerbated or worsened by the modern day lifestyle. Yoga is a holistic form and approach to life, in which the practitioner learns to regain the balance by conscious exercise or asanas, pranayama & meditation. So yes, yoga has a proven track record in managing diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases.
To respond to the second question, if a covid patient has a mild infection or even post-Covid, then the practice of Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing, Suryabhedi pranayama, Om chanting atleast 21 times) helps to improve a person’s immunity and respiratory system. So affirmative, yoga will help a person’s immune system recover faster.
Being a gym addict, I always want to try yoga to improve my body flexibility.
Your article is a great guide for me and I appreciate your sharing.
However, do you have more in-depth training that taught beginners how to get started with yoga?
Because this article is more about how can yoga benefit us. But I need a thorough training plan to help me get started, haha!
Thanks for your input. Gym is the total opposite of yoga; but practicing both together is more beneficial than just gym alone. Since the gym is all about weight training and muscle building through heavy exercise, if you do not practice stretching alongside – you will loose flexibility. But if you practice yoga along-with, you will be able to maintain and even improve your flexibility.
Since you have asked, I will put up some basic yoga sequences for beginners on my Instagram page (@sutra_himani) soon. If you incorporate that exercise sequence into your daily routine, and do it daily for a week or 10 days, you will find that your flexibility will automatically start improving.
For an in-depth training however, I would suggest that you find a good yoga instructor. It is nearly impossible to learn yoga from a training manual, because of its fine nuances.
In health and happiness.
What a great article, and at the right time as many people are looking at ways to boost their immune systems.
Who would have thought that Yoga had so many other benefits? I do classes from time to time at the gym, but I am so stiff I find many of the poses really uncomfortable. I know I just need to do it more often. I was always under the impression that yoga was there to help you destress and also to improve your flexibility. Thank you for enlightening me on all the other benefits.
Any great poses to practice at home to get the backs of the legs loose?. Since I had a vein op my calves and hamstrings seem to have stiffened up badly.
Thanks for the feedback on the article. Sharing the true benefits of yoga has been a passion of mine; and I know from experience that regular practice of yoga equals to optimal health. Stress management and flexibility are only two of the many benefits that it provides.
For the loosening of your hamstring muscles, I would suggest the following asanas ( yoga exercise sequences):
– Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)
– Halasana (plough pose)
If you do a simple google search with the names above, you would be able to find photos & videos on the exercises or asanas. Do all these asans in a sequence; in three sets. In each sequence, hold each pose for 10 to 30 seconds each. This should be followed by Shavasana.
Just a quick addendum:
I will be posting the yoga exercise sequences I mentioned to you for hamstring loosening on my Instagram handle: @sutra_himani
You may check it out tomorrow.
Hi there thanks for sharing this interesting review, it was really helpful. Yoga has been found to improve quality of life, reduce stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and back pain. It has also been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure. And, perhaps not surprisingly, yoga has been shown to improve fitness, strength and flexibility, according to the alternative medicine center. And even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.
Yes Philebur: Yoga promotes health holistically for the entire body. As you mentioned this includes stress, anxiety, insomnia, back pain and more. The immune system also benefits from yoga and good health. Everyone wants to healthy, right?
Wishing you good health and happiness.
great job you did putting up this awesome review on how to boost immunity with yoga..Yoga helps return the balance to our body and mind. If you practice yoga regularly, you will automatically begin feeling better about yourself. And when you feel better, healthier – you will naturally make healthier choices in life….
thanks for sharing such an informative article, off to share it
Thank you for the kind words Evansese!
Yes, regular practice of yoga does translate into a healthier body and mind. Yoga is a gift and helping people make healthier choices and lead balanced lives is naturally also good for the planet.
Wishing you health and happiness. Stay safe,
What’s up i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i
read this article i thought i could also make comment due to
this brilliant article.