Nizha Periaswamy

Do you know that there are at least 200 types of viruses which are capable of entering our immune system and making us fall sick, at any point of time?

Despite the "invisible" threat, it is still possible to keep our health in check, by consuming nutritious food, following a healthy lifestyle, and practising yoga.

Yoga practitioners can fight off illnesses, and recover from infections quickly than a non-practitioner.

According to yoga instructor from Sakthi School of Yoga, Anuradha Kanasan, the body's immune system that fights against infections improves, and works at optimal levels, with the regular practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation.

"Certain types of pranayama can increase the efficiency of our immune system. The practice of Ujjayi pranayama (Ocean Breathing) causes one's blood to 'heat up', and as a result, flushes out toxins and impurity from the blood," she told Astro Ulagam.

Besides Ujjayi, Kapalabathi is another powerful form of breathing.

"This technique, which translates into Skull Shining Breath, was one of the cleansing techniques practised by the ancient yogis. This pranayama helps clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, build heat in the body, and improve lung capacity."

Anuradha, however, reminded practitioners with high blood pressure to consult their yoga instructpr before practising the said pranayamas.

"Both the techniques can be practised by individuals of all age, provided they are done on empty stomach," she said.

Besides pranayama, practising asanas (poses) also helps strengthen the immune system. Poses such as inversions, and forward folds are among the best ways to boost our immune systems.

"When we go upside down, we encourage the blood to flow through the circulatory and immune system, which flushes out toxins, and moves immune-strengthening cells throughout our bodies. Viparita Karani (leg on the wall pose) and Uttanasana (standing forward bending) are two simple asanas, which can be practised by everyone.

"Chest opening asanas increases the lung capacity. Utrasana (camel pose) and Matsyasana (fish pose) are great for defending against lung infections and helps with blood circulation around the chest and lung area," she said.

Stress can undoubtedly run down our immune system. Regular meditation can keep us calm and ensures our immune system functions well.

Adequate sleep is also essential to keep our immune system strong, If you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to catch a cold, when exposed to a virus.

Anuradha, for instance, drinks "golden milk" daily to keep her immune system tip top. This milk, which is mixed with turmeric, ginger, and pepper, contains antioxidants that fight cell damage, and lowers the risk of infection and disease.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Sakthi School of Yoga