By Bhavan Kumar
The fall and winter seasons bring with them great beauty, a chance for introspection and an opportunity to slow down. The fall and winter are also a time when many of us catch a cold or seasonal flu. If you find that you get frequent colds during this time of year, you may want to consider incorporating Yoga asanas that are inversions into your practice in order to enhance the functioning of your immune system. Our immune systems are detrimentally affected by a poor diet, lack of restorative sleep, high stress and toxins in the environment. Prescription and non-prescription drugs and an unhealthy level of alcohol consumption can also negatively affect the immune system.
White blood cells that circulate throughout our bodies via the lymphatic system are our bodies’ primary defense against disease and infection. The movement of vital fluids throughout the body by way of the lymphatic system is greatly increased with physical exercise. Inversions dramatically help to circulate white blood cells throughout the entire body. Additionally, any Yoga pose that places your head below your heart will help to circulate fresh blood and nutrients throughout the brain, lifting mental fogginess and improving memory.
A very accessible Yoga asana that is quite effective for boosting the functioning of the immune system is Wide-Legged Forward Fold. Other inversions such as Headstand, Handstand, Upward Facing Bow and Plow Pose will also help to boost your immune system. Even a restorative pose such as Child’s Pose places the head below the heart and helps to increase the functioning of the lymphatic system and therefore the functioning of the immune system.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
To practice Wide-Legged Forward Fold, stand at the front of your Yoga mat in Samasthiti or Equal Standing. Place your feet approximately three to four feet apart in a wide stance and parallel to the ends of your Yoga mat. With your next inhale; raise your arms to shoulder height with your palms facing down. Your wrists should be directly over your ankles. With your next exhale, bend forward as far as your level of flexibility allows. If you have the flexibility, grasp your big toes, feet, ankles or shins with your hands. Hold this asana for three to five full breaths. To come out of the pose, place your hands on your hips and with your next inhale rise back up to a standing position bringing your feet back into Samasthiti at the front of your mat.
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