Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Breathe to boost immunity

It's that time of year again when colds and flu viruses will start to creep up on us so we need to be ready.  As well as your asana practice, pranayama (breathing techniques) can do much to stop these invaders causing havoc in your body. Pranayama increases oxygen delivery to every cell in your body including the immune cells keeping them 'happy' and ready to attack invading viruses.

Some breathing techniques are stress relieving - these include Alternate Nostril Breathing - please see 'Oh no it's Monday! Breathing technique for calming'- and Ujjayi breathing.  How does this prevent colds and flu? Nothing brings your immune system down like stress.  This is because all the endocrine glands are connected so if your adrenals are out of balance because they are pumping out stress hormones this is going to affect the thymus gland which plays a part in the manufacture of immune cells.  Ujjayi breathing involves making a sound in the throat which is why it is sometimes called Ocean breathing and this is also calming for the mind.  Similarly Humming Bee Breath makes a calming sound.

Kapalabhati breathing is a very cleansing breath, helping your body expel toxins which can negatively affect the immune system. Please see 'Thank goodness it's Friday - breathing practice to energise for the weekend'- Similarly Lion Breath expels stale air from the base of the lungs allowing fresh, clean air in. Please see 'Yoga myths and legends - Lion pose-

Ujjayi Breathing is also very warming for the respiratory passages - it is when the respiratory passages get cold that viruses have a better chance of taking hold.  

To practice Ujjayi breathing first try breathing out through your mouth with a 'ha'.  Notice how this causes a tightening in your throat.  Then try tightening the throat in this way as you breathe out through your nose.  Now try to create that tightening as you breathe in as well as when you breathe out.  You should notice the breath makes a sound- some people say it is like a baby snoring, others say it is like the ocean.  

To practice Humming Bee breathe, breathe in through your nostrils and as you breathe out make a 'hmmmm' sound like a bee.  

Stay well this autumn


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