"Your system thinks you are in survival/panic mode, and you need to help yourself to calm down enough that your immune system can actually work."
Primarily, you need to slow down. Your system thinks you are in survival/panic mode, and you need to help yourself to calm down enough that your immune system can actually work. Here are three yoga exercise to help boost your immunity.
Breathing practices help people calm down, primarily because they force the breath to slow down. This, in turn, usually encourages the nervous system to follow, allowing the immune system to get the message that it’s time to do its thing.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit comfortably and place your two peace fingers between your eyebrows so that your thumb hovers over one nostril and your ring finger hovers over the other.
Exhale completely, then seal your right nostril as you inhale through the left.
At the top of the inhale, switch so that you seal your left nostril and exhale through the right. Inhale right, then switch at the top and exhale left. Inhale left, then switch at the top and exhale right. Continue on like this, switching nostrils at the top of each inhale.
Continue on as long as you’d like—until you feel yourself calming down. Finish by exhaling out the left nostril, and then sit quietly for a little while, noticing what it feels like to have calmed down a little bit. Sit as long as you’d like.
Your lymphatic system is largely in charge of moving toxins through and out of your body. It doesn’t have its own pumping system like the heart does. You have nodes in places that tend to move around a lot, like your armpits, groin, and neck, because the lymphatic system depends on your body movement to work properly. So don’t sit there panicking in a tight little ball: Get moving.
From standing, step your right foot back into a lunge with your back knee up or down. Reach your arms up to the sky and look up, if that feels safe for your neck. If you like, do that with your breath a few times: Reach up on your inhale and bring your hands together at your heart as you exhale.
Draw the tailbone down and press your hips forward, ensuring that your front knee does not move past your ankle. Lift your chest. Take 5-10 deep breaths. Then switch sides.
Once you’ve calmed down a little, it can be incredibly beneficial just to stop moving. Get into a comfortable position that lets your body know it’s time to rest and move into the healing, parasympathetic mode. Doing this with an inversion is especially helpful because it can stimulate your lymphatic system and your thymus gland (behind your breastbone), which rules your immune system from birth up until puberty. Even though the thymus may not do much after puberty, it’s fundamentally good for your immune system to treat yourself with love and kindness for that spot just in front of your heart.
Legs Up the Wall
Lie on your side with your knees to chest and your bum as close to a wall (or couch) as you can get it. Then swing your legs up the wall.
All you need for this pose is a wall or a couch, but you can add on to it by placing a pillow under your hips to elevate them a little, covering yourself with a blanket, and placing a scarf or eye bag under your eyes.
Relax your body as deeply as possible, maybe even with a guided meditation. Try to stay for 10 to 20 minutes to give your immune system a chance to actually do its work.
During the current coronavirus crisis, Julie Peters is live streaming all yoga classes, for free, from her studio Ocean and Crow on Facebook Live.