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International Yoga Day: Various Yoga Asanas to boost your immunity

International Yoga Day 2020

The present COVID – 19 crisis has made us realise the importance of a good immune system. While yoga as a practice is well-known for its many mental and physical benefits, now it has also emerged as one of the key immunity boosters. The Ministry of AYUSH has specially mentioned yoga and meditation in its self-care guidelines as one of the key preventive measures that can boost immunity.

Numerous studies have shown that yoga helps in immunomodulation-which refers to any process in which an immune response is altered to a desired level.

Yoga assists in decreasing both basal level of inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α (Tumor necrosis factor-alpha) and IL-6 (interleukin-6). It also inhibits their increase to moderate and strenuous exercise. Low levels of inflammatory cytokines help in prevention and management of chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.

In addition to that, yoga also increases NK (natural killer) cells thus helping in killing cancer cells.

Also read: Yoga Day–The key to a healthy heart

It helps in stimulating thymus, an organ which releases T lymphocytes which helps in building up immunity.

Stress leads to increase in stress hormones through activation of HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary- adrenal) axis. Yoga helps in decreasing stress hormone levels and thus decreases the adverse effects of stress hormone on various body organs. Pranayam is a basic yoga practice which helps the lungs to take in more oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. It leads to better oxygenation of blood and better oxygen supply to various body organs.

Various yogasans which help in immunity boosting

There are numerous types of yogasans and they help the body in some way or other i.e. relaxation, toning of muscles, flexibility of joints, strengthening of connective tissues, better oxygenation because of better breathing practices. In addition to preventing diseases,these asanas also stimulate the thymus gland and lymphatic flow which help in improving immunity. Some of the asanas which are helpful in boosting immunity are:

1. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

This asana provides the following benefits-

  • Strengthens the spine and stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen and also stimulates abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve stress and fatigue
  • Opens the heart and lungs and therapeutic for asthma
  • Soothes sciatica

Some traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat and destroys disease.

2. Matsyasana (Fish pose)

This asana provides the following benefits-

  • Relieves tension in your neck, throat, and shoulders
  • Stretches and tones the front of your neck and your abdominals and also stretches and stimulates the organs of your belly and throat
  • Relieves stress and irritation
  • Therapeutic for rounded-shoulders, asthma, spasms in the bronchial tubes, and other respiratory issues

3. Dhanurasana (Bow pose)

This asana provides the following benefits-

  • Stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, and throat, and deep hip flexors (psoas)
  • Strengthens the back muscles
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck

4. Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

This asana provides the following benefits-

  • Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest, and spine
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, neck pain, osteoporosis, and sciatica

5. Padagunsthasana (Big toe pose)

This asana provides the following benefits-

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress, anxiety and mild
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve headache and insomnia

(Disclaimer: The writer Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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