Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dare to Care: Yoga to Boost the Immune System

It’s been a while since our last Dare to Care post, so let’s start off with a small refresher for why the fun and exciting ACA tax info you’re used to seeing is decidedly absent from this blog post:

While filing more with the IRS than you already do might not be the obvious answer to keeping you healthy (seriously, does the IRS not know what stress levels can do?), the reason the ACA is now law relates directly to your healthcare coverage and, ultimately, your health.

There’s still some debate over whether having health insurance will help you become physically healthier, but researchers do seem to agree that having it is better overall for you mentally. Additionally, with coverage, you’re more likely to take advantage of preventative care, like cholesterol screenings or mammograms. So getting covered might not automatically make you an Olympic athlete, but it definitely comes with some health benefits.

That said, we’ve long been in the primetime of cold and flu season. Sniffles and coughs are more abundant than reminders to wash your hands and get your flu shot, and your immune system may be feeling it. When the temperatures outside dip, the first line of immune defenses in your nose become significantly weaker. Combine this with more people trying to share the warmth of enclosed spaces, and you’ve got situations ripe for getting sick.

So, while ‘tis the season to feel sickly, you don’t have to be a part of the low-immunity crowd. Simple things like laughing, a spoonful of honey, or just a good night’s sleep can help boost your immune system. And if you really want to kick your immune system into overdrive, consider adding the following (easy!) yoga poses to your daily routine!

The following poses encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and facilitate circulation throughout your whole body, the three most effective things yoga can do to support your immune system:

Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
I used to have a yoga teacher who would say, “If it’s a virus, go to the doctor for an antibiotic. Anything else, legs up the wall!” In other words, get in the habit of making this pose your go-to cure because a majority of the time, it’ll clear you right up. There isn’t much direction to this pose, simply lie on the floor and raise your legs to create a 90 degree angle with your body. To get the most out of it for your immune system, use the wall for support and hold your pose for 10-15 minutes while keeping your breath steady. If your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your knees and bring your seat away from the wall to allow your body to relax into the pose.

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Feeling overwhelmed? Try downward dog. Feeling stressed and sickly? Downward dog. Feeling sleepy? Have a headache? You see where we’re going with this. To begin, lie on your stomach, place your palms near your ears, and point your toes downward so that your heels are facing the ceiling. Exhale, using your back and stomach muscles to straighten your arms, legs, and lift your hips. Typically, this pose is held for five long breaths, but you can hold it for as long as is comfortable to you. Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight. Rest your forehead on a block or other prop for a feeling of calm, restoration, and grounded energy. Bonus perk: this pose drains congested sinuses, helping you to breathe a lot easier.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish pose is unique in that it opens up your entire upper body, the heart, and the lungs. It also stimulates the thymus, which plays a significant role in the endocrine and lymphatic systems and, ultimately, your immune system and long-term health. To come into this pose, lie flat on the floor with your legs straight and arms at either side. Raise your hips, one side at a time, and place your hands under each hip. Exhale as you bend your elbows and push your upper body off the floor, raising your chest, and tilting your head backwards. Hold this pose for five counts and inhale as you rest your back on the floor.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Just by inwardly folding your body and placing your forehead to the ground in child’s pose, you send a signal to your brain to slow down, immediately calming the mind and body. This pose also normalizes circulation throughout the body, which allows new blood to flow and cleanse your body of toxins and pollutants. Begin by kneeling with your hands on your knees. If you have knee or lower back issues, consider placing a blanket under your knees or spreading them farther apart while keeping your toes together. Slowly exhale and slide your hands down and forward until your torso is flat against your legs (or between them) and your arms are completely straight. If you can, place your forehead against the ground and roll your head back and forth for a soothing sinus massage.

If you enjoyed this wellness-focused blog, stay tuned for more Dare to Care installments, or check out the blogs of our other programs, communEATiHealing Radius, and Healing Radius Pro, for more weekly health and wellness info! In the meantime, another ACA and tax-filled blog will be back Tuesday; and the ExpressACAForms support team will be here (as always) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, to answer your phone calls (704-839-2270) or live chats. We’re even here over the weekend for 24/7 email support at, so feel free to contact us at anytime for help or assistance e-filing.

No comments:

Post a Comment