Updated: Apr 30
It may be the season of festive spirit, gift-giving and mulled wine but it is also the season of coughs, colds and flu. Cold and flu viruses thrive in cold conditions, and cold temperatures along with lack of Vitamin D, suppress our immune system.
Research shows that our immune cells’ responses are weaker under cold conditions, which enable viruses to invade and multiply. This combination greatly increases our chances of catching an illness, and no one wants to spend their Christmas break bed bound.
There are a vast amount of online articles offering tips and advice to strengthen your immune system but it can be hard to know which are the most beneficial. Whilst I swear by increasing vitamin C in your diet (I make freshly squeezed orange juice every morning during winter), I have also developed a short, daily yoga sequence to keep my immune system in top tip condition.
Yoga for immune health
The lungs are associated with the immune system and by combining postures which open and compress the lungs, we are stimulating the lung and large intestine meridians and activating the immune response associated with it, which in turn helps to strengthen our immune system.
In Chinese medicine, the lung and large intestine meridians are also related to our ability to take things in and let go, so as well as keeping our immune system strong, these postures can also help us to process and let go of emotions.
The video below combines two backbends/heart openers which stretch and open the area of the lungs followed by counter-poses involving a shoulder stretch which creates a gentle compression of the lung area. 2-4 repetitions of these movements will help to activate and strength the immune system.
If you feel an illness coming on, or are around others who are sick, either at home or work, try incorporating this 8-minute sequence into your existing daily practice or simply practice the sequence on its own every day and see how your immune system responds.
Salabhasana (Locust Pose) into Prone Shoulder Stretch
In Locust Pose claps the hands behind your back to increase the stretch through the chest, shoulders and arms.
Focus your awareness on stretching and opening through the front of the body to stimulate the lung meridian.
In Prone Shoulder Stretch, the forehead or ribs can be supported with a folded blanket.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose) to Child's Pose With Shoulder Stretch
Bring awareness to the lifting and opening of the chest in Camel Pose.
In Wide Leg Child's Pose, you can rest the forehead on a pillow or block. Palms should be facing up.
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