Photo credits: Diyako Mohammadi
In addition to eating superfoods, vitamins, and supplements, you can do more to boost your immune system. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are just a few essential ways to boost your natural immunity.
When it comes to exercise, it's a good idea to include different types of training. With your regular strength or cardio workouts, did you know that incorporating yoga will improve your immune system? Yes, yoga!
If you're curious about more, read on to find out why trying yoga for stress relief and mental wellness will boost your immune system.
How Yoga Affects Your Body Systems
Some of the bodily systems we all have include the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, nervous, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and respiratory systems. Each of them must function efficiently because not only do they perform crucial tasks for the body, but they all influence each other.
When your parasympathetic nervous system is leading, your blood pressure drops and you will feel calm, relaxed, and less stressed.
For example, if your circulatory system is not doing its job well, your reproductive system will be underperforming. In other words, if your heart doesn't push enough blood to your cells, your reproductive system won't be able to generate new skin cells or even brain cells. Sounds scary, right? If that were to happen, it would be alarming for this reason: new cells are vital for our bodies to grow and develop.
Another example is when you are under stress - whether mental or physical, perceived or real. Your sympathetic nervous system (the one responsible for your “fight or flight” response) begins to dominate and your physiology changes.
As a result, your body will make tackling the `` threat '' (your stress) its priority, which can cause certain systems in your body to malfunction: your digestive system may not produce enough energy and your system may not work properly. immune system can stop fighting against bacteria, viruses or parasites. This is something neither of us want, especially in this difficult year of 2020.
Instead, what we want is dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system (the one responsible for "rest and digestion"). When your parasympathetic nervous system is leading, your blood pressure drops and you will feel calm, relaxed, and less stressed.
These are all the benefits of good yoga practice - with improved blood circulation that allows oxygen and other substances to move freely around the body.
When the parasympathetic nervous system is on charge, your immune system and other systems in the body will function well.
Yoga to strengthen immunity
As we discussed in this article, yoga is not about stretching but about feeling connected to yourself and making the body work as a whole.
Yoga is a `` work-in '' (rather than a workout), so as a practice it's more about how you feel than how you look. But what exactly does a “work-in” mean? What's going on inside?
"Yoga is when every cell in the body sings the song of the soul.
- BKS Iyengar, Indian yoga master.
This quote emphasizes a fundamental principle of yoga: the related relationship of body and mind. In other words, when you do yoga correctly, you will feel connected to yourself both physically and mentally. In addition to the feeling of connection, the goal is to feel fully engaged physically and mentally in the practice, and when this happens, yoga becomes a practice of mindfulness!
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the present moment, and it has many benefits including reduced stress, better self-awareness, increased focus, better sleep, or lowered blood pressure.
TIP: Did you know that guided deep breathing exercises are also mindful practices?
Lucky for you, we've created Serene ™, a smart coaching function for conscious breathing. It is available in the Polar Vantage Series, the most recent Polar fitness watches, and the Polar Grit X outdoor watch.
Mindful yoga practice will also help clear internal blockages and let blood and energy flow freely through and within the body. This will lead to a good circulatory system, a calm nervous system and, as a result, a well functioning immune system.
Yoga for stress relief and other immunity boosting practices
The current wide selection of yoga styles gives us the flexibility to choose from different levels of intensity and types of classes. One thing they all have in common is a positive impact on our health. Most classes have the great benefit of relieving stress / anxiety and calming the nervous system, both of which are essential for increasing our immune response capacity.
Let's take a look at some common yoga concepts that help us reduce stress and become healthier.
BODY AND RESPIRATION SENSITIZATION
Asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control) are two of the “eight limbs of yoga” - the basic principles of yoga practice in ancient times and today. Asana teaches us the anatomy, posture, and appearance associated with the musculoskeletal system, while pranayama is related to different breathing techniques that occur through the respiratory system.
When the two are combined and we let the breath guide us through the postures and movements, it has an amazing effect on our physiology. Asana and pranayama synchronize the whole body, promoting blood flow in the circulatory system.
As we mentioned above, good yoga practice allows us to feel connected and allows the body to function as a whole. This effectively means that all the cells in your body speak the same common language.
The body-mind (or mind-body) connection is about our physical, mental, and emotional experiences and their effects on each other. Yoga teaches us how calming the mind can relax the body, and vice versa: relaxing the body can calm the mind. It is an important skill to learn, especially if we want less stress and a strong immune system.
Do you think meditation means sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed? Think again. Meditation is being aware of your thoughts, observing them, gaining a healthy sense of perspective and learning to understand them.
Meditation means that you stop worrying about the past and the future. Instead, you embrace the present. Although meditation and mindfulness are not exactly the same, the two concepts go hand in hand. When done right, meditation relaxes the body, calms the nervous system, and improves blood circulation.
Did you know that smell is the strongest of the senses? Burning scented candles and using essential oils are often part of modern yoga classes. They not only raise the mood of the classroom, but also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
A study has shown that aromatherapy is a very effective stress management method because it can strongly influence brain activity. Some of the most popular soothing scents are lavender, rosemary, peppermint, ylang-ylang, and lemon.
Want to reduce stress, boost your digestive system, activate your immune system, or just be in a better mood? Go inhale essential oils!
Can our well-being be improved by being grateful? Science says yes. Researchers in positive psychology and mental health have established a powerful link between gratitude and good health.
Among its endless benefits, expressing gratitude regularly helps regulate stress, reduces anxiety, increases positive emotions and thoughts, improves sleep, and even strengthens the immune system. While focusing on gratitude has nothing to do with yoga, feeling grateful for your body and your yoga practice has a positive impact on your well-being, including your immunity.
TL; DR (AKA A QUICK SUMMARY)
So, to answer the question: can regular yoga practice boost your immunity? Yes.
Your immune system works most effectively when all of the other systems in the human body - such as the nervous system, circulatory system, and digestive system - are doing their jobs correctly.
This is where yoga comes in, helping the body's systems to function optimally by:
- Increase blood circulation without too much stress on the body.
- Calm the nervous system.
- Teach body and mind to connect.
- Improve general well-being.
The concept of yoga for stress relief and relaxation goes hand in hand with a strong immune system.
Want to try yoga for stress relief? Here is a 30 minute session that is suitable for beginners as well as advanced practitioners.
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Please note that the information provided in Polar blog posts cannot replace individual advice from healthcare professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.
If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.
You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise indications and workout partouze are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.
While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your détermination quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.
Whatever your age or sport level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.
Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your esprit and emotional health.
Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.
Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.
Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window de course, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.
Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can prove very effective—so, too, can squeezing all your exercise into a couple of sessions over the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving during the weekend when you have more time.
The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting on the couch; one minute of activity will help you lose more weight than no activity at all. That said, the current recommendations for most adults is to reach at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule ? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.
For most people, aiming for moderate intensity exercise is sufficient to improve your overall health. You should breathe a little heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating profusely. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo it.
Health issues ? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as limited mobility, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.
Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the muscles you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. For example, if you’re going to run, warm up by walking. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.
Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.
There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.
A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through ? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.
Triggers are one of the confidentiels to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers addict right by the bed and you’re up and running. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new sport goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.
If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like course or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.
Activity-based video games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or la petite balle jaune, for example—can burn at least as many kcal as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone application to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as course from hordes of zombies !