4 Yoga Poses To Support Your Immune System

Chiropractor and yoga instructor By Emily Kiberd, D.C.
Chiropractor and yoga instructor
Emily Kiberd, D.C., is a chiropractor, yoga instructor, and the founder of Urban Wellness Clinic in New York City.

A restorative yoga practice provides support for the immune and nervous systems. Studies show that yoga, even more than a walk through nature or relaxing music, has tangible positive effects on our health.

In addition to a supportive yoga practice, how else can you avoid getting sick? Get plenty of rest. Sleep supports the immune system, provides a host of benefits, including improved memory performance, cellular regeneration and better mood. Stress has been shown to weaken the body, but can be managed by a regular yoga and meditation practice.

Here are four key yoga poses that are thought to help support your immunity.

Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)

4 Yoga Poses To Boost Immunity

Illustration by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez

This should be your go-to pose to ground the nervous system, as it's thought in traditional yoga practice to boost immunity and keep stress at bay. You will feel a sense of calm and well-being, as your body pumps oxygenated blood to your legs, reviving tired muscles from hours of sitting too much.

If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and bring your seat away from the wall to allow your body to relax into this pose.

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Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

4 Yoga Poses To Boost Immunity

Illustration by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez

This pose is believed to stimulate the thymus, an organ located behind the chest bone that is responsible for the growth of T-cells, your body's first response to the cold or flu.

Press down through the tops of your feet; the power of this backbend should come from your legs. Pull your chest forward as you soften your shoulders down and back. Hold for two to three breaths as you deepen into the backbend.

Cobra Pose will leave you feeling revitalized and will also provide a boost of energy after a long day of sitting in the same position.

Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

woman demonstrating supported fish pose

Image by fizkes / iStock

An invigorating restorative pose, supported Fish Pose opens up the heart and lungs, and is thought to break up congestion in the lungs and sinuses. When we sit hunched over our desks all day, our breath becomes shallow and stagnant.

This is one of the best poses to access a deep diaphragmatic breath, and helps balance an agitated nervous system. Make sure you place your block at the bottom tips of your shoulder blades, and that your neck has a gentle natural curve with sufficient support under the second block.

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Downward Dog With Block (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Dog for Muscle Building

Image by Richard Sheppard

Downward Dog is the go-to emergency pose when things feel overwhelming and out of control. Try it with a block under your forehead to add a feeling of calm and restoration. This pose increases your circulation yet still provides grounded energy.

Bonus: It allows congested sinuses to drain. Press down through all of your knuckles and spread your fingers to create a firm base of support. To create stability, access the strength in your arms and legs and encourage them to hug towards your midline. Soften between your shoulder blades to encourage the shoulders down and back.

Tight hamstrings? Reach your seat high toward the sky, and put a slight bend in your knees. Take 5-10 deep breaths, allow your mood to shift and notice the day to melt away.

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