Wheather you would like to admit it or not, but with the advent of new viruses from Covid to MERS in this time and age, it is becoming more and more important to deal with weak immunity. There are many holistic herbs and medicines in Ayurveda to make your system stronger but a regular practice of Yoga, also helps in dealing with everyday common colds & viral attacks. Below is my list of the top 10 yoga poses and breathing exercises you can do to boost immunity.
1. Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath
The name of the pranayam is derived from the Sanskrit word “Bhramar” which means a Bumble bee. When it is performed, a humming sound is felt in the throat and jaw, hence the name. It is a very calming breathing practice with the ability to calm body and mind. It is a powerful weapon to combat stress, relieve tension and anxiety and also reduce anger. It also works great for boosting the immune system of the body.
How to perform?
- Sit in a comfortable position and sit straight.
- Close both the ears with the thumb and cover the eyes with the fingers.
- Keep the mouth closed and inhale deeply
- While exhaling make a soft humming sound.
- You can repeat as much as you like but it recommended to do this practice for 5 to 10 mins a day.
- Reduces stress: this pranayama reduces the stress and results in self healing and improved mental health. It also releases cerebral tension and soothes the nerves. It also helps to build the confidence and improve memory.
- Heart health: It helps to improve the heart health and is very helpful technique for people suffering from hypertension as it calms agitated mind.
- It also regulates body’s metabolism.
- It calms the mind and prepares for meditation and spiritual experiences.
- Should not be performed by people suffering from ear infections.
- Avoid incase of heart diseases.
- Avoid putting thumb inside the ear instead of the cartilage.
- Keep you mouth properly closed while making the humming sound.
Kapal Bhati Pranayama
Kapal Bhati pranayam is one of the most well known and popular breathing exersice owing to the promotion by the great yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Although you may doubt its effectiveness but it is one of the most powerful form of yoga you can perform everyday that can immensely boost your immune system.
The pranayama cleanses the respiratory tract and facilitates smooth flow of oxygen in the body. It detoxifies the lungs and the respiratory tract. It revitalises the entire brain and awaken the body cells. According to hatha yoga pradipika, “Kapalbhati is a pranayama technique which invigorates the entire brain and awakens the dormant centers which are responsible for subtle perception.” In English, it is also called ‘frontal brain cleansing’ technique.
The powerful breathing involved in this pranayama increases the lung capacity and treats sinuses. Kapalbhati pranayama is the destroyer of all the mucus disorders and removes all kapha related ailments.
How to perform?
1. Sit in a comfortable position with closed eyes.
2. Inhale deeply through both the nostrils such that the abdomen expands and exhale such that the abdominal muscles contact. 3. Now continuously inhale and exhale passively. Concentrate and sudden exhaling. The idea is to quickly exhale with force. 4. Initially do 30 strokes at a stretch and then gradually increase its frequency.
- Heart: This technique involves inhaling and exhaling with force which results in movements of the muscles thus helping in removing the blockages in the heart and lungs. It also increases the supply of blood in the body.
- Brain: This pranayama activates the brain cells and improves the memory and the concentration power. The increases flow of blood in the body which oxygenates the brain and improve its functioning. It also improves the memory.
- Weight Loss: Regular practice is also beneficial for reducing the belly fat and helps achieve toned shape.
- Respiratory: This pranayama is also helpful to treat various respiratory diseases. Forceful breathing removes the blockages and improves respiratory function.
- Digestion: It also aids with digestion and help get rid of acidity and gas related problems.
1. People with heart related conditions should avoid practicing this pranayama.
2. Patients of vertigo and epilepsy should avoid Kapal Bhati.
3. Anyone with high blood pressure must refrain from performing Kapal Bhati.
4. Person with gastric ulcers should not do Kapal Bhati.
Bhastrika Pranayama is a powerful pranayama that relieves inflammation of throat and removes all the diseases arising from excess of wind, bile and phlegm. This pranayama increases the nitrous oxide in the nasal region which helps to decrease the blood pressure and improve the blood flow to organs which boosts the defence mechanism, which leads to destruction of parasites and viruses.
How to perform?
- Sit in a comfortable position. Keep body, neck and head erect.
- Start by slowly inhaling through the nostrils.
- The immediately exhale quickly and forcefully through the nostrils.
- Continue the forceful inhalation and forceful exhalation in quick sessions.
- At the end the final exhalation is followed by the deepest possible inhalation.
- Rest for a while and take a few normal breaths. Complete 2-3 rounds. Increase as per continence.
1. Stress: This pranayama calms the mind and reduces stress. It is also good for people suffering from anxiety and depression. It oxygenates the brain and improves its functioning.
2. Respiration: this technique is great for people suffering from repetitive cough, flu, allergies and breathlessness.
3. It also benefits the nervous system.
4. It strengthens the abdominal region.
5. It is neither heating or cooling for the body and brings balance.
1. Person suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases, vertigo, glaucoma, intestine or stomach ulcers should not perform this pranayama.
2. During summer this should be followed by Sheetkari pranayama so as to minimise the impacts of heat.
Difference Between Kapalbhati And Bhastrika Pranayam
Both look very similar if you don’t observe carefully. In Kapalbhati pranayama, the emphasis is on the exhalation of breath and inhalation is the result of forcing the air out. It is opposite to normal breathing in the sense that in normal breathing, the inhalation is active and exhalation is passive. It is reverse in kapalbhati.
In Bhastrika, the inhalation and exhalation are equal and none is forced.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
Nadi Shuddhi or Shodhan Pranayama means cleaning of nerves. Word Nadi means nerves and Shodhan means cleaning. This pranayama helps increase immunity and clearing the subtle channels of mind and body. It pacifies all the three doshas. This pranayama helps keep the mind calm, happy and peaceful and helps release tension and fatigue.
How to perform?
- Sit in a comfortable position with the legs folded.
- Close your eyes and keep your spine and head erect.
- Focus on the breath.
- Then with your thumb of right hand, close the right nostril and inhale through left nostril and then press the left nostril with ring finger and exhale through the right nostril.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Increases haemoglobin: This asana is very helpful in increasing the haemoglobin level of the body and also increase the supply of oxygen in the body. It is extremely beneficial for menstruating and pregnant women as the body requires high haemoglobin during menstruation cycle and pregnancy. It cleans the blood and improves the respiration system.
- Balance the brain: If a person practices this pranayama continuously it helps with harmonising the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which helps the person to correlates the logical and emotional sides of the personalities. It helps reduce accumulated stress in mind and body.
- Concentration: This pranayama helps to bring the concentration in the present moment. Studies show that regular practice of this pranayama helps improve concentration power. It also helps to improve sleep.
- Reduce anxiety and stress: Balancing the breath results in balancing the activity between the left and right parts of the brain which brings sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in equilibrium.
- Control Body temperature: This pranayama controls and regulates the body temperature.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy it helps balance the mood swings and increase haemoglobin levels of the body. It reduces stress and improves concentration. It is an ideal pranayama to practice during pregnancy.
1. Do not make sound while inhaling or exhaling. Never breathe from your mouth and practice this pranayama as slow as possible.
2. Keep your head straight so as to have a balanced effect on the body. When closing the nostril do not apply much pressure on the nose.
Dhanurasana or Bow Pose
Dhanurasana is made up of 2 words Dhanu means ‘Bow’ and Asana indicates a yoga pose. In the final position the body resembles a bow thus, it is named as bow pose. It is one of the yoga poses to boost immunity. It acts as a natural stress buster and improves the flow of white blood cells. It works mainly by applying pressure on the belly, which helps strengthen the digestive system.
How to perform?
1. Lie flat on your stomach, with your arms placed beside your body and feet hip-width apart
2. Now, gently fold your knees, and try to place your ankles on your buttocks
3. Hold your ankles with your hands
4. Try to lift your thighs and chest off the ground, as high as possible
5. Now try to maintain this position for about 30-60 seconds
6. To get out of the posture, leave your ankles and lay straight again
7. Relax for some time
1. Weight loss: Regular practice of this asana helps shed and burn fat as it gives maximum stretch on the abdomen and abdominal sides.
2. Good for Lethargy: This asana works directly on the solar plexus in the navel region. These nerves lead to better efficiency, which in turn leads to improved functioning of vital organs such as reproductive, digestive and eliminating.
3. Massage Liver: It massages liver which aids in digestion.
4. Treat diabetes: This asana helps pancreas to stimulate secretion of correct amount of glucagon and insulin that helps in balancing sugar in the blood. Both type 1 and type 2 patient can benefit from this asana.
5. Blood cleansing: It flushes the blood to the entire body as well as the entire body which works as a cleaning process.
6. Strengthen shoulders: This pose helps strengthen the shoulders, arms, neck, abdomen, back and thighs. It also helps to cure back pain as this pose stretches the ligaments, muscles and nerves in the back and rejuvenating the spinal column.
7. Good for heart: During this asana the diaphragm is pushed towards the heart by the extra pressure applied on the abdomen which massages the heart.
1. Avoid practicing this asana in cases of neck or lower back injuries.
2. Not to be practiced by pregnant and menstruating women.
3. People with heart problems and high blood pressure should not practice this asana.
4. People suffering from hernia, peptic ulcer or duodenal ulcer and other abdominal ailments should consult a yoga expert before practicing this asana.
5. This asana should not be practiced right after the meals at least have a gap of 3 hours.
Vrikshasana or Tree Pose
Vrikshasana has been taken from a Sanskrit word ‘Vrska’. It comprises of 2 words Vriksh means ‘Tree’ and asana indicating yoga pose. This asana helps increase immunity and also helps to achieve a state of balance. It symbolises sense of calm and serenity.
How to perform?
- Stand erect and keep the feet together.
- Fold the right leg and place the right leg on top of the left thigh such that the toes of right leg points downwards.
- The right leg should be perpendicular to the left leg.
- Bring the arms in front of your chest into a ‘Namaste’ and then inhale and slowly raise the arms above your head. Keep your back straight and hold few breaths.
- Exhale and return to the initial position.
- Repeat for other leg. Repeat a few repetitions and increase according to your convenience.
1. Strength and energy: This asana stretches the entire body from toes to fingers thus strengthening and energising the body. It also increases the stamina and immunity.
2. Depression and anxiety: This asana gives tranquillity to the mind which helps fight depression and anxiety. It also helps to increase concentration power. This yoga has been known to develop self-esteem and self-confidence.
3. Knee problems: This asana is one of the knee yoga and should be performed by people with knee problems. It strengthens thighs, calves and is very good for pelvic region.
4. Sciatica: It is good for people experiencing sciatica but should only be practiced under the supervision of an expert.
5. This asana helps with rheumatic pain and also treats numbness.
6. Posture: This asana improves posture and tone the leg muscles.
1. It should not be performed in cases of high and low blood pressure.
2. The asana energies the body so it should not be performed by people with insomnia as it can worsen the condition.
3. Should be avoided in case of migraine.
4. People with acute knee problems and hip injuries should refrain from practicing this pose as it can aggravate the issue.
5. Pregnant women can perform Vrikshasana during the first 2 trimesters but should avoid in third trimester.
Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Tadasana is also known as palm tree pose because of its elongated and straight alignment. It is an effective asana to increase immunity and is very helpful for the nervous system and tones abdomen and body muscles. It helps with the posture and flexibility of thighs and joints. This asana has been commonly used to increase heights of kids. It is an important standing yoga of Shankhaprakshalan.
How to perform?
1. Stand erect with your feet about 15 cms apart.
2. Interlock the fingers of both hands.
3. Hold your straight arms directly above your head facing the palms upwards.
4. Inhale; stretch your whole body upwards as far as possible.
5. Now, come on the toes and feel the stretching from toes to fingers.
6. Maintain the pose as long as you can (initially for 30 seconds).
7. Exhale, come to the original position.
8. This is the one round. Do 2-3 rounds.
1. Increases height: It is considered as the best yoga pose to increase height. Children between the ages of 15 to 20 can be benefited from this pose. This pose gives the desirable stretch from toes to the fingers and thus helping with the height.
2. Improves concentration: Practicing mountain pose continuously can improve concentration, alertness and balance of the body.
3. Low back pain: This asana gives appropriate stretching to the entire spinal region therefore it is very effective to combat the pain of the spine and other associated muscles.
4. Nerves health: This yoga asana gives the nerves and muscles the suitable stretching which helps to get rid of the numbness, weakness and neurological problems. Stretching also helps the patients suffering from sciatica. However, sciatica patients show practice this asana in presence of a yoga therapist.
5. Fat reduction and weight loss: Practicing the asana on regular basis helps reduce the fat and activates the body metabolism, which results in burning more fat from toe to fingers and giving the body a slimmer look.
1. This asana should not be performed by pregnant women.
2. The person suffering from varicose vein should avoid mountain pose.
3. If the person is experiencing dizziness of any kind he/she should not practice this asana.
4. In case of knee pain this asana should not be performed beyond the capacity as it may lead to knee jerk.
5. Person suffering from headache, insomnia and low blood pressure should not practice this asana.
Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend
Paschimottanasana is a sanskrit word. It is made up of three words: Paschima means back, Uttana means intense stretching and asana means yoga posture. This asana is beneficial for all the parts and organs of the body. It helps calm the brain while stretching the body. It is best asana for immunity and relieves from stress, headache and anxiety.
How to perform?
1. Sit on the yoga mat and stretch both the legs outwards such that both the toes are together pointing forward.
2. Inhale, raise your arms and bend forward exhaling as far as possible.(Exhale while ending forward)
3. At the final stage, interlocked fingers should be beyond the toes and the nose should touch the knees.
4. Inhale and come to normal position.
5. Repeat 3-4 times. And increase as per convenience.
1. Stress: This asana helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression and helps bring the state of meditation by harmonizing nervous and pranic energies within the body.
2. Diabetes: This asana provides massage to the pancreas which forces the endocrine glands to release the insulin and ensure management and prevention of diabetes.
3. Weight loss: the practice of this asana give adequate stretching to the entire body especially the back part of the body and thus helps in burning of the fat.
4. Spine: It stretches and tones the spine and is best for the health of spinal column and associated nerves.
5. Constipation: This pose results in massaging the abdominal organs which improves digestion and prevents constipation and flatulence in future.
1. People suffering from asthma should not perform this yoga asana.
2. Pregnant women should refrain from practicing this asana.
3. If you are suffering from back injury, sciatica or slipped disc this asana should be avoided at all cost.
4. Person suffering from diarrhoea should also not perform this asana.
Utkatasana or Chair Pose
Utkatasana is a Sanskrit word comprising of two words wherein Utkata means ‘wild, intense and gigantic’ and asana means ‘yoga pose’. This asana boosts immunity buy opening up the chest and increasing the breathing flow. It is mainly used to increase strength and stamina. The chair pose promotes the inner power. It works to relieve muscles and joints from any pain. It is an important asana to boost immunity and lead healthy and active lifestyle.
How to perform?
1. Firstly stand in Tadasana
2. Inhale and stretch your hands in front of your chest and move it up by the sides of your head.
3. Exhale and bend the knees, bring your thighs parallel to the floor as such that you are sitting on a chair.
4. Stay in the pose as long as you can hold your breath and keep your hands straight and stretched.
5. Inhale and come back to the original position.
Other Health Benefits:
1. Knee pain and injuries: Practising this asana regularly ensures strengthening of knees and thus helping with the knee pains and injuries in the long run. This pose has been known as boon for people with weak and feeble legs as it helps strengthen ankles, knees, thighs and calves. It also helps prevent flat feet.
2. Arm strengthening: This asana involves stretching on the arms and muscles with will help in the strengthening of the arms. It also helps strengthening the shoulders and makes them healthy.
3. Chest health: Controlled inhaling and exhaling during yoga is good for chest muscles and results in expansion of breath and improves chest health.
4. Heart: Practising Utkatasana helps stimulate the cardiac muscles and so is very good for the heart. It also improves the health of the diaphragm.
5. Abdominal movements: this asana stimulates the muscles of the abdominal organs, and thus increasing the efficiency of the abdominal organs.
1. It should not be performed in case of chronic knee pain, arthritis and sprained ankle.
2. People with damaged ligaments should not practice this pose.
3. Women should avoid this yoga pose while menstruating.
4. People suffering from headache and insomnia should not practise this asana.
5. Low Blood pressure patients should not do this asana.
Matsyasana is a sanskrit word made up of two words Matsya means ‘Fish’ and asana means yoga pose. It is named Matsyasana because at the final stage the yoga posture looks like a fish. It is another effective asana to increase immunity which it does by triggering the thymus gland located in the chest which produce T-cells that helps fighting various infections. It opens up the chest and diaphragm and increases air flow in the chest offering relief from fatigue. It is also excellent for boosting metabolism.
How to perform?
1. Sit on a yoga mat in padmasana.
2. Slowly bend backward and then lie completely on your back.
3. Slowly lift the upper back with the support of elbow and palms and place the crown of your head on the ground.
4. Knees must touch the ground and the back is arched to the extent that the body can be supported on the knee and head. Maintain the posture.
5. While returning, release the toes, place the palms on the ground, straighten the head with the help of the hands and come up slowly
6. Relax in Savasana.
1. Back pain: People with back pain can be benefited from this pose but they should perform this asana under the supervision of a yoga teacher. It also relaxes the muscles in the upper back and make spine strong.
2. Cures constipation: This asana gives an excellent massage to the abdominal organs and thus helps alleviate various types of digestive disorders and get rid of constipation.
3. Asthma: While practicing this asana the rib cage and lungs get an accentuated stretch which helps to improve the breathing process by allowing the chest to expand to the full capacity during the respiration and help treat various respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and other lung ailments. It also helps in prevention and management of many throat diseases.
4. Healthy uterus: Matsya pose helps strengthen the uterus and helps get rid of all the problems related to the uterus. It is good for pelvic muscles.
5. Sperm formation: Practising fish pose daily helps preventing various reproductive problems and increase formation of sperms and ova.
1. People suffering from peptic ulcers should skip performing this asana.
2. Hernia patients should not practise this asana.
3. People with spinal injuries should not practise this asana.
4. Pregnant women should avoid practising this asana.
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