Have you ever noticed that a day after you start your vacation you get sick? Or perhaps a sniffle or cough comes on right before your important work presentation? Or maybe you get taken out by a sore throat or ear ache when you have the most on your plate?
Sadly, bacteria and viruses don’t work around our schedule and can take up residence in your body whether you invite them in or not. The immune system has important job to do each and every day, and if we are sleep deprived, eating on the run, overwhelmed and stressed out, and not taking good care of our body, mind, and emotions, it has a profound effect on its ability to ward off dis-ease.
The health of a women’s immune system depends on the health of all our systems. For almost every health condition a woman faces, we can often trace it back to hormonal imbalances. Colds and flu included, since one of our many systems responsible for a strong immune system is the endocrine system, which includes your ovaries, pituitary, adrenals, thyroid, and hypothalamus. All these organs/ glands are also directly responsible for your monthly menstrual (moon) cycle and regulating hormones.
The nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems also work along with your endocrine system to boost your immune system's response to invaders. However, if we are experiencing stress and overwhelm, for example, these system functions are jeopardized. This in turn influences your hormones causing you to become susceptible to sickness.
In addition, your emotional state affects your physical health so if you are feeling healthy and vibrant, mostly likely your immune system does too and the team of trillions on white blood cells will attack unwelcome invaders with no fear. Except that throughout a woman’s monthly cycle our emotions can be a roller coaster ride ultimately impacting our ability to stay healthy and virus free.
Our yoga asana practice is a refuge where we can go and take time to nourish and replenish all our systems so that they can function optimally. Yoga asana can help improve our circulation, support our central nervous system, clear the mind, balance emotions, and uplift the spirit. Each of these individual benefits will, collectively, assist in harmonizing the endocrine system and stabilize hormones.
In addition, we want to be sure that we get adequate sleep, 8-9 hours a night, eat foods high in vitamin C and A which stimulate our immunity, and surround ourselves with joy and laughter. Laughter also helps fuel and boost immunity and encourages a positive outlook which helps too!
- Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Helps to increase upper body circulation, bring fresh blood to the brain, energizes the legs, and is soothing and calming for intense emotions especially when done with a block or bolster under the head. Calm and rejuvenate!
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Puts pressure on the belly which increase blood flow to the abdominal organs which is full of the white blood cells that help us fight invaders. Bow also activates the thymus in the chest that is the primary immune system organ. Invigorate and enliven!
- Child's pose (Balasana)
Is calming for the central nervous system and allows the adrenals to relax by receiving the ‘sign’ that there is no distress from your long, deep breaths. Then the immune and digestive systems can return to a balanced state and circulate freely to look for those pesky ‘invaders’. This pose can also be great right before bed to assist in a better nights sleep. Restore and relax!
- Simple Seated Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Stimulates the spleen, kidneys, liver, and circulation to the belly and reproductive organs which produce immune cells. It also stimulates the flow of lymph fluid through the nodes in groin and the armpits. Replenish and renew!
- Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)
Helps bring oxygenated blood to your thyroid and parathyroid glands, supports the lymphatic system in passive circulation, calms the mind and emotions, and soothes nerves if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Moving in to Plow pose will also help to balance your entire endocrine system which in turn will balance your hormones and emotions.
I also suggest practicing according to your monthly cycle and changing what you practice when in accordance to where you are in your personal cycle. This will make these asanas even more potent and powerful keeping you healthy and balanced all year long. Read my article, Manage Your Mood: Balance Your Cycle With Your Practice to learn how to practice according to your monthly cycle.