Melanie Salvatore-August’s new book, Yoga to Support Immunity, is a clear, step-by-step whole-being Yoga at home program to help boost immune function and bring vitality to the mind and spirit. She includes in-depth instructions for specific Yoga poses and teaches you how they can assist as immune system boosters. In this article, she shares an overview of how Yoga can support immunity and a glimpse of one set of asanas she recommends.The book includes many more asanas to support various aspects of immunity, as well as pranayama and meditation practices.
Immunity is when we have protection, resilience, and endurance to withstand an attack and continue to thrive. In our physiology, it is the ability to fight viruses, recalibrate and balance the microbiome, and assimilate important nutrients, as well as detoxify from environmental predators and pollutants. Mentally and emotionally, it is our ability to discern what we need or don’t need and to create peace within our everyday life.
When we are experiencing a state of wholeness or Yoga, our nervous system moves into the parasympathetic response, or rest/digest state. This state of rest/digest supports the longevity functions of digestion, hormone balance, and immunity. Whole health immunity is based on the quality of our exercise, breathing, stress levels, sleep, relationships, diet, and genetics. It is also based on what we repeatedly do each day or our habits.
The state of Yoga comes from systemic harmony and the ability to sit still without physical or mental discomfort. We do asanas (poses) so the body is flexible, strong, and pain-free to remain in a quiet state for an extended period of time. Asanas clear inflammation and dis-ease from the body. The body and mind work together. If the mind is agitated, the body will have difficulty being still. If the body is in pain, the mind will be agitated. Like waves on a lake, the water will be disturbed and murky without visibility to the bottom. When our mind and body are quiet, just as the still lake water is clear, we can see all the way into the depths of our experience. When aspects of us are disjointed, we experience confusion, anxiety, depression, illness, and disease.
Asanas to Support Immunity
Spinal health, circulation, digestion, elimination, inflammation reduction, and hormone balance are our main focus areas for the asanas to support immune function. We will breathe deeply through the nose, increasing production of nitric oxide, which is a health booster, and de-stress our nervous system for resilience and healing. Utilizing the expansive muscles of the breath, we will learn to reset the nervous system out of a chronic stress response and rewire our system for deep calm and resilience. We will explore daily habits to eliminate those that drain us and cultivate those that energize us, creating an easy consistency.
There is no magic pill or one-time effort. Immunity support and whole health are based on small, daily choices that create a resilient vitality over time. Utilizing the yogic principles of abhyasa and vairagya, or the balanced recipe of consistency and nonattachment, the accumulative effects can be life-changing.
These real healing practices are for real people. You have everything you need to start this journey and create the next level of vitality. It only takes one small shift in awareness to create a big healing change. Whether it is a shift in how you breathe, how you move, or how you perceive your life, there will be benefit. It doesn’t matter if you have lots of experience with these healing practices or none; just take a deep breath, accept whatever gifts or challenges feel present, and keep going. The only thing that is needed is curiosity and a desire to be supported right now. Don’t worry about tomorrow and don’t get stuck in the past—just steadily keep going in the present, as the present moment is truly all we have and where the healing occurs.
Fear drains us of our vitality, and love (both self-love and universal love) will fuel our immunity and whole health. I support you in choosing love, compassion, and patience when practicing these tools and allowing the practice to gently bless you one breath at a time. There is unbound potential within this practice to bring us to whole-being harmony or Yoga.
The following asanas are suggested poses for clarity (see the book for complete instructions for each pose):
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Utkatasana (Thunderbolt or Chair Pose)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
- Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
- Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
The immunity and whole health benefits of these poses include:
- Increases oxygenation/blood circulation.
- Aids in digestion, breathing, and cardiovascular, brain, and glandular function.
- Supports expansion of the diaphragm and the lungs.
- Decreases inflammation and aids in lymphatic drainage.
- Supports the rest/digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Supports mental/emotional outlook by releasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
- Supports homeostasis or whole-system balance.
- Supports self-regulation and connection into present-moment experience.
- Programs the Reticular Activating System (RAS) to aid in finding optimum circumstances for healing.
- Creates feelings of balance and clarity, and a calm, alert state.
- Activates vital energy (pranic) lines through the entire body.
About the Author:
Melanie “Mel” Salvatore-August is a former comedy writer, veteran Yoga/meditation teacher, Reiki Master, mama of three, and is also the author of Fierce Kindness, Be a Positive Force For Change; Kitchen Yoga: Simple Home Practices to Transform Mind, Body & Life. She is the founder of the Fierce Kindness Organization, MelWell Classroom. Learn more at her website melaniesalvatoreaugust.com and get social with Melanie on IG | FaceBook | Twitter | Linkedin