The Problem with the 3 Best Yoga Poses for Boosting Immunity
I’m sure you’ve seen some of the ubiquitous YouTube or Instagram yoga videos where a beautiful woman or an Indian Swami tells you exactly how their perfect yoga poses are going to solve all your problems.
Recently, my father told me he clicked on a link to a 30 minute video explaining that one magical yoga pose would make all his low back pain disappear – instantly and forever. In addition to low back pain, my dad has had a few knee operations and lives with a persistent case of post-glory days football arthritis. He explained the video to me. Apparently, they spent 30 minutes describing how this one pose was the key he’d been looking for his whole life, before they finally revealed the magical secret.
Then he described the pose to me.
It was pigeon.
Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either.
He asked my opinion.
I took a long breath. How do you briefly explain that yoga is not a prescription, you can’t take poses instead of pills, and really, you kinda have to spend a little time doing it regularly over time before you start to see real, lasting effects?
So, I told him that in addition to being contraindicated for knee pain, it could actually exacerbate his back pain and he’d be better off deleting that video forever and sticking with his PT exercises.
This morning, as I was thinking about writing this blog and how I’ve recently fielded many requests for yoga to help improve immunity I realized that yes, sure, I can suggest 3 poses for greater immunity, no problem.
Here they are:
Cobra – Purportedly has a beneficial effect on the thymus, and great for breathing and depression.
Warrior 1 – May be very good for respiration and builds feelings of strength and courage.
Legs Up the Wall – Beneficial for the parasympathetic nervous system
And now that we have that out of the way, can we talk about how yoga can really help build immunity?
If you are practicing yoga asanas regularly, as well as utilizing the yamas and niyamas as a decision making framework, and practicing pranayama and meditation, you are already doing a great job of boosting your immune system.
Right now is a really good time to do MORE of all of it.
It’s times like this, when things feel out of control and the future is uncertain, that yoga practice can help us feel more grounded, calmer, much more in touch with our spirituality, and able to take things one day at a time with a greater sense of equanimity.
So, the secret to improving immunity is not 3 poses, it’s actually the cumulative or synergistic effect of the using the whole system of yoga, regularly and in earnest.
That’s the real immune boosting secret.
So if you want to build a stronger immune system do more practice, meditate on and implement the yamas and niyamas in your life, eat well, sleep well, work on your relationships, and get a lot of support.
I have no idea if it will prevent you from getting sick.
But I do know one thing for sure – regular, holistic integrated practice of the yoga system will help you remember that when push comes to shove, there are only a few things that matter:
- we only have a short time on this planet regardless of when the messenger comes calling to escort each of us home,
- our relationships – with ourselves, our higher power, and with each other are basically the only things that truly matter, and
- every breath is a precious gift.
And I doubt pigeon pose can deliver that all that by itself.