The immune system is a complex network of armoury that work together to protect our body by identifying, attacking and destroying foreign bacteria, fungus, moulds, microbes, parasites toxins and viruses. If you went to bed tonight and your immune system shut down you’d wake up mouldy and decaying, clearly the immune system is doing something to keep those creatures, moulds and viruses out or crush them if they find a way to get in.
The first line of defence protects you by preventing bacteria and viruses from entering the body through the nose, ears, mouth and skin. For example, the skin creates a barrier between you and the bad guys, it secretes antibacterial substances as a first line of defence just like we use cling wrap to cover any food we place in the fridge. If that fails then the step up option comes into play where the immune system identifies and destroys pathogens before they get a chance to reproduce. And if the bacteria and virus do start to reproduce then it’s the immune system that is charge of eliminating it. The immune system can also detect cancer cells in the early stage and in certain cases eliminate them too.
The main components of the immune system are the thymus (it makes T cells and antibodies), spleen (removes old and damaged blood cells and destroys bacteria and foreign substances), lymph system (carries lymph fluid, nutrients and waste between body tissues and the blood stream), bone marrow (produces red and white blood cells and platelets), white blood cells (attack and destroy bacteria or other organisms or viruses that have caused an infection), antibodies (respond to specify bacteria, viruses or toxins by binding to them and disabling the chemical action of the toxin), complement system (they are certain proteins that float in the blood and complement the work of antibodies by causing cells to burst and then signalling that that cell needs to be removed), and certain hormones which help to regulate the immune response like the feeling of fatigue you get when you have a cold.
None of these things can get a look in when your immune system is working but the moment it’s compromised the welcome mat is laid out. By lowering our stress hormones and calming our nervous system yoga practice can help support our immune system functions and revitalize it, especially after it has been compromised. Focus on yoga poses that stimulate the flow of lymph, open the chest, that is where the thymus is located, and breathe deeply into each one. Practice pranayama, half moon, cobra, camel and bow.