Most people that have been practicing yoga for any length of time find that it is good for the body, mind and spirit. More than one study has shown that yoga improves one’s overall sense of wellbeing. On a deeper level, what else can yoga do for our health? Is it possible that yoga can strengthen the immune system?

What Are the Claims about health benefits of Yoga?

Many yoga books and manuals speak of the physical benefits of yoga, including improved health and vitality. Some books, such as “Light on Yoga,” go into more detail, listing the benefits of specific poses and sequences of poses to addresses certain health issues. Most of the books do not provide supporting documentation, and students have to decide for themselves if the claims are valid. Some believe the yoga masters, but others are skeptical.

Is There Research supporting health benefits of Yoga?

In recent years, there has been more research about the health benefits of yoga. Numerous studies have been conducted by doctors and medical researchers, often with the assistance of experienced yoga teachers, on whether yoga helps medical conditions such as back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression and decreased cardiopulmonary function, among others. At least two specific studies showed that yoga improved the immune system of breast cancer patients.

This is not to say that yoga serves as a substitute for qualified medical care when it is needed. Any serious illness should be addressed by physicians. There is much potential, however, for yoga to compliment traditional medicine and possibly reduce the number of future doctor visits that one may need.

Yoga Poses to Help Strengthen Immunity

There are a number of different yoga sequences that can be used to strengthen immunity and improve health. These sequences often focus on inversions and restorative poses. Supported versions of the poses can be used depending on the individual’s ability and stamina. Headstand, shoulderstand, downward facing dog, bridge pose, legs-up-the-wall and, of course, savasana will be found in most sequences that target immunity.

Pranayama is also noted by many yogis as being beneficial to the immune system. Regulating the breath tends to calm and quiet both the body and mind, serving to reduce stress. Ultimately, it may be that the stress reducing aspects of yoga are a significant part of its contributions to immunity. An organism that continually operates under stress eventually suffers ill effects.

Regular practice of a variety of yoga poses and sequences is the best way to receive its full benefits. There are times of year or weeks when, based on how you are feeling, you may wish to include more immune building, restorative sequences in your yoga practice. While it may not prevent you from ever getting sick, it will still have a positive impact on your overall health.