Yoga, The Immune System & Pandemics

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting us, one can’t help but wonder what we can do individually to keep ourselves healthy and safe. Is handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing enough? What can we do to adopt a healthy (or healthier) lifestyle to boost our immune systems? Certainly, eating a good healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep would be a good start. But this can be challenging with the stress and anxiety that we’re all under currently.

So of course, my curiosity was peaked when I ran across an article that theorized the benefits of yoga practice as a preventative measure for the Corona Virus (Nagarathna et al 2020). Although information about the virus is still emerging, the article brought up some good points. The authors cite studies that have shown that practicing yoga has helped reduce symptoms in Asthma, Diabetes, Heart Disease, TB, and HIV. Part of the reason for this is because yoga incorporates breath with movement. This has been found to be beneficial to neurological, respiratory and psychological health. Additionally the authors inform us that yoga has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, which helps with inflammatory disease.

Most interesting (to me anyway) is that the authors inform us that studies indicate that yoga increases the production of blood lymphocytes and Natural Killer (NK) Cells. These are both immune cells that help the body fight off infection.

Although it is unclear and unknown whether yoga (as an additional measure to mask wearing and social distancing) can strengthen the immune system enough to prevent communicable diseases such as COVID-19, I find this information encouraging. If nothing else, a regular yoga practice will reduce stress and help the body and the mind feel better. For more yoga insights, subscribe to my newsletter.

Nagarathna, R., Nagendra, H. R., & Majumdar, V. (2020). A Perspective on Yoga as a Preventive Strategy for Coronavirus Disease 2019. International journal of yoga13(2), 89–98.

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