Yoga consists of many practices which include asanas, pranayama, kriyas, meditation, diet and lifestyle. All of these in combination have a hugely beneficial impact on the physiology of the body.
Asanas are physical practices and work on the body at various levels.
- They help restore neuro-muscular balance, improve posture, support the spine and impact all the internal organs.
- They are isotonic, isometric, weight bearing and cardiovascular in nature.
- They help maintain muscular tone and keep us healthy and fortified against viruses and harmful bacteria.
- They work at a cellular level and maintain the body’s optimum levels when practiced over a period of time.
Pranayama is a body of breath control techniques which helps the body physiologically and psychologically.
- It strengthens the immunity and improves the functioning of the internal organs.
- It has been found to be beneficial for chronic diseases and conditions.
- It calms and clears the mind improving overall brain function.
- It activates various neurons helping regenerate dormant parts of the brain. This boosts the central and peripheral systems.
The net result is minimal diseases and good brain power. Some of the popular Pranayama techniques are Pranakarshana (deep breathing), Kapalabhati (forceful exhalation) and Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing with pauses).
Kriyas are cleansing processes which help remove impurities from the body. While there are more than 50 Kriyas, the 6 activities that form the ShataKarma (Shata = 6, Karma = activity) are the most popular. These are:
- Dhauti – stomach
- Neti – nasal passages
- Nauli – abdomen
- Basti – colon
- Kapalabhati – lungs and respiratory passages
- Tratak – eyes
Cleansing Kriyas help the body to get rid of impurities and strengthen the immune system. In addition, they help increase energy, improve the quality of blood and some also benefit the brain.
The benefits of meditation are now well known. It helps in stress management and balancing the internal body processes. This is in addition to making you calmer and improving your brain power.
Diet as prescribed in Yoga is a way of eating. The main parts of a yogic diet are what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and how to eat. The accent is on eating a nutritious, balanced diet with fresh ingredients (Sattvic diet). The net result is a calm mind, better health and less chances of infections.
The Immune System
The immune system is not an organ or a single unit in the body. It is a variety of cells to be found in various parts of the body including the blood, endocrine glands and other regions. They assess the threat of a virus or bacteria and fight them as required.
There are ‘marker’ cells which identify a target, helper cells which assist in the fight and ‘fighter’ cells which attack the viruses and kill them. A consistently inflamed immune system or one with the incorrect combination of cells weakens the body and becomes susceptible to various diseases.
Impact Of Yoga
- Reduces inflammation of the immune system
- Improves quality of the immune system and its functioning.
- Reduces stress which is the root cause of most chronic diseases.
These benefits of Yoga are the key to a healthy immune system and a disease free life. Even if you have a disease, you can lead a very healthy life with Yoga.