Can yoga help to support your immune system? All signs point to yes. The stress relieving benefits alone can help keep the body in balance and thriving!
Deepening your yoga practice to focus on the glandular system invites endless support to your total well-being. The immune system is directly related to the thymus, which is a specialized organ that educates T-cells to adapt the immune system to current circumstances. The thymus sits directly behind the sternum and informs T-cells to attack different antigens or pathogens that invade the system stimulating an immune response. This yoga set works to open the chest where the thymus is seated. Here are a few easy to do poses to practice at home.
Start in a tabletop position with hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, lift the sit bones and gaze upwards, let the heart and belly melt down towards the floor —making a crescent shape. On the exhale, scoop the tailbone under and bring your gaze to your navel, arching the back upwards like a scared cat. Repeat seven to eight times, inhaling to Cow Pose, exhaling to Cat Pose.
This is a gentle warm-up for the spine, opens the heart and is an easy way to connect with your breath.
Come to a lying position on belly with elbows directly under shoulders and forearms parallel extended in front of you. Draw legs together while lengthening the tailbone toward heels to protect lower back. On the inhale, lift upper ribcage and sternum up and forward creating a gentle backbend. Hold for 8 to 12 breaths. On the exhale, slowly release arms to either side of your body and lower torso and head to mat. Rest on either side of head down and relax for two to three breaths.
Sphinx Pose is therapeutic for relieving stress, fatigue and in traditional texts is said to destroy disease.
Start in a reclined position on your back. Bend knees and place soles of feet on the earth hip-width distance apart and as close to the sit bones as possible. Firmly press feet into the earth, inhaling extend hips up toward the sky. Keeping inner thighs parallel, clasp hands together and lift the inside of shoulder blades up while pressing top outside of shoulder blades down. There should be a natural curve in the back of the neck as the chest lift towards the chin. Hold for 10 to 12 breaths. To release, exhale and slowly release hands and lower spine down vertebrae by vertebrae.
This pose is a gentle inversion that stretches the chest, neck and spine. It is beneficial for stress, anxiety, fatigue and sinusitis.
Find a comfortable seated position with the legs crossed at the ankle or shin. Gently press sit bones down as you lengthen the spine extended through the crown of the head. Relax shoulder blades together and down allowing the neck to be long and relaxed with chest slightly lifted. Rest left hand on knee and draw the right hand into a hand gesture with thumb resting on top of pinky finger nail and index, middle and ring finger extended. Bring extended fingers toward sternum and gently begin to tap repeatedly. Continue for one to two minutes gently moving the tapping up and down the sternum. On the exhale release right hand to knee or thigh and take five to seven deep breaths.
This exercise stimulates the thymus and opens the energetic heart center. It has also been said to support the immune response.
After finishing the Thymus Tapping come to a neutral position lying on your back in Corpse Pose. Allow the body to completely relax with eyes closed. Feel the healing benefits of the practice integrate into the body on a cellular level. Relax in Corpse Pose for three to five minutes before completing your practice.
In terms of energetics, the main energy center in the chest, often called the heart chakra, is actually rooted in the thymus. As the heart chakra opens and is freed, it stimulates the restoration of the thymus gland so the immune system can function at a very high level.