Hold off. Before you rush to your local pharmacy for a flu shot, go for the most natural way of boosting your immunity – your breath. I talk from experience as I have found specific pranayama techniques that build a strong defense against viruses and harmful bacteria.
I have always incorporated pranayama into my asana practice. It just felt more intuitive to intersperse the techniques throughout the whole routine than sit separately for another 15 minutes to complete the breathing practice. However, lately, just before flu season kicked off I compiled a brief set of breathing exercises from Indian and Chinese yoga to bolster the immune system. It has worked wonders so far and I feel I was able to built a strong shield for the winter.
In combining this short series I focused on facilitating flow through the organs, the chakras while activating the trigger points that bring blood and nourish the lymphatic and immune systems. A simple exercise like thumping your thymus or activating the lymph nodes under the armpits while practicing fire breath instantly revs up the defense mechanism of the body.
The immune system is a collection of organs, glands, cells and tissues that works religiously to protect our body from viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and other harmful organisms. For optimal immunity system our organs, cells, gland and tissue need more energy and nutrients, so they can function properly. Because we suffocate in polluted air, toxins, poor diet, stress, worry, tension and depression our immune system gets shattered and underperforms. The body turns acidic and very inviting for a host of harmful viruses and bacteria.
Together with a wholesome diet and moderate exercise, mindful breathing restores the PH balance of the body by enhancing the power of gland, tissue, cells and organs. As a result, red blood cells are empowered to fight with bad bacteria.
As we take long and expanded breaths we facilitate the transport of oxygen throughout the body. The lung function is improved and toxins are eliminated through the blood stream. This in turn, leads to lower levels of “interleukins,” immune signaling molecules that initiate inflammation. The immune system gets stronger – enhancing the all functions of the body.
Moreover, the slow cyclical breathing calms our adrenal glands by signaling to our hypothalamus (our glandular navigator which connects the brain to the endocrine system) to stop secreting stress-related hormones and bolster our immunity. The Body bathes in calming alpha brain waves, which promote healing. Then the health of the whole chain is restored – the parasympathetic nervous system gets nourished. The body becomes alkaline and forms a strong shield against outer parasites. The lungs begin to function full-fledge and cure any infections in the respiratory system.
In concert with the pacifying and balancing breathing, it is vital to practice detoxifying breaths to remove toxins, germs and infections. Once the toxins are flushed the lymphatic system recuperates. Because our immune system is “staffed” by white blood cells that are distributed throughout the body by the lymphatic system targeted breathing will help to increase the functioning of the immune system by increasing the circulation of white blood cells throughout the entire body. Inversions are your best bet as their reverse the flow of gravity and substantially support the efficient functioning of the immune system by promoting circulation.
On a curious note, breathing exercises that combat anxiety lower stress levels and give the body a real immunity boost. In general, pranayama exercises that balance or deepen the breath help to ease anxiety and tension. Breathing exercises that elongate the exhale portion of the breath are particularly effective at soothing an over-active nervous system. Breath retention also helps to quell rapid, shallow breathing that is frequently seen in those of us who are very stressed. As stress levels begin to abate, the body can begin to re-balance and restore itself. The pervading sense of ease often felt after pranayama exercises aimed at calming down the nervous system will allow the immune system to function at a much higher level.
As it turns out, deep breathing, whether its cyclical, detoxifying, cooling or empowering boosts all systems simultaneously. This unique immune blast that you are about to try has myriads effects on the body. It builds a strong shield against viruses but also affects the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes. Practicing it regularly will help you reduce the wear and tear of the heart. You will help the body get rid of excessive fat and weight and cure problems that are related to the digestive system.
To boost the immunity you need to enhance the functioning of several organs, which include the kidneys, pancreas, intestines, diaphragm, lungs and the heart. By removing toxins you will prevent various diseases from invading the immune system. And what’s more you will be able to get rid of negative emotions while improve the circulation of blood throughout the body – effectively reducing blood pressure and soothing the nerves. Finally, you will realize that all the systems in the body are closely linked and if one breaks, the whole chain crumbles. To keep the chain from falling apart practice regular pranayama targeted specifically to your needs.
And don’t go for the flu shot this year, but fend the viruses off with this fun and powerful breathing routine.
Immune Boosting Breathing: Fend Off
This routine combines breath extension with trigger point activation and detoxifying mudra to boost the immune system and fend off viruses and harmful infections. Thumping your thymus as well as pressing the reflex points under the clavicles will activate the lymphatic system and increase the circulation of white blood cells throughout the body. A unique stimulation of the lymph nodes, accompanied by tapping helps build a strong shield by promoting circulation in the lungs and purifying the respiratory system. Strong diaphragmatic breathing catalyzes the throat center, as well as the liver, kidneys and spleen. Strong pulsating fire breaths with the arms extended, open the shoulders and flush away toxins to alkalize the gastrointestinal tract and restore the PH balance. Further, lion breaths emphasize the massage of the thyroid and parathyroid glands to boost metabolism and control the calcium levels in the body. Finally, brisk clicking of the teeth and swallowing of the saliva reboot the body’s mechanism for self-regulation and defense. A brief meditation stresses the importance of breath in bolstering the immune system.