Lisa Foster is a certified yoga teacher. She teaches yoga to children and adults in Oakville, Ont.
- A HEALTHY START – Caffeine stresses the adrenals, the glands that sit atop the kidneys and support the body’s immune system. Cold weather also compromises the kidneys, the source of our vitality and energy. Instead of a triple espresso or a latte, kick start your day with a cup of green tea. It’s a gentle energizer, and it’s packed with powerful antioxidants.
- PRACTICE HEART-OPENING POSES – Including several poses that open the chest such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) in your yoga practice will help to ward off colds and flu. Heart openers stimulate the flow of blood to the thymus, which lies beneath the breastbone. The thymus assists the growth of T-cells, the immune system’s first line of defense. Incorporating these three poses into your practice is a simple way to stay healthy.
- A LESSON ABOUT LYMPH – When coming in and out of yoga postures, you contract and stretch muscles and move organs around, thereby increasing the drainage of lymph (a fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of toxic waste products.
- CLEANSE YOUR SINUSES – Using a neti pot (a spouted vessel resembling a small teapot) to rinse the sinus passages, helps to clear away mucous and viruses. Most cold viruses enter the body through the nose’s mucous membranes, therefore daily nasal rinsing will help prevent colds and flu. Lean over a sink and irrigate one nostril at a time.
- ADD WATER – Add water, inside and out, to help ward off germs. Moisture may be a natural weapon against airborne viruses. The logic behind this theory is that germ-infused droplets (from sneezes and coughs) stay airborne longer in dry air. Moisture in the air (humidity) makes the droplets too large to float, and they fall to the ground. You are therefore less likely to inhale them. A humidifier in your home is the best way to increase the humidity in the air. Remember to add moisture to your body, too. Lack of moisture in the body can dry the mucous membranes. Try for six to eight glasses of water or herbal tea (decaffeinated) daily to keep your body hydrated.
- TAKE TIME TO MEDITATE – Studies have found that people who meditate have stronger immunity. Meditation reduces stress, the immune system’s worst enemy. High levels of stress hormones compromise your body’s ability to fight germs. A daily practice of mindful meditation reduces the symptoms of stress and benefits your immune system.
- KEEP ACTIVE AND HAVE FUN – Increasing your heart rate speeds up the circulation of white blood cells that help seek and destroy germs early on. Attending a fitness club or yoga class three times a week dramatically reduces the risk of becoming ill. Your body will not only benefit physically by joining a class, but so will your mind. Participating in a group activity that you enjoy improves your mood immensely because of the increase in serotonin and the decrease in the detrimental stress hormone, cortisol. Less stress equates to increased immunity.
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