An Interview with Jayadharma das from ASMY West End
Q: Which yoga practices assist immune system functions and why?
Jdd: Progressive Body Relaxation or Yoga Sleep is critical because it turns on the parasympathetic nervous system and counters the stress response. Ayurvedic practices like Neti (saltwater nasal wash) and Nasia (coating the inside of the nostril walls with organic sesame oil) also support immune system function by helping to keep the nasal passages clean.
Q: Are there any yoga asanas that specifically target the immune system and how?
Jdd: All yoga practice that has a calming effect on the body supports the immune system. Yoga asanas that incorporate twisting, stretching and the breath will help to bring fresh blood supply to organs of the immune system such as the spleen and thymus.
The lymphatic system relies on a mechanical system to move lymph around the body.Dynamic floor exercises like Salute to the Sun help as they will directly increase the flow of lymph around the body. Flexing and releasing in a pose will help the immune system to remove pathogens and toxins in the cells and interstitial spaces (the spaces between cells). So the action of the muscles stimulates the flow of lymph liquid, making the lymph system, circulation and your digestion more efficient at delivering nutrients and eliminating wastes. In addition to helping us breathe properly, facilitating lymph drainage, dynamic floor exercises also help to keep the skin pores clean because they make us sweat thereby removing toxins that have built up throughout the day.
Practicing the Cobra allows the thoracic duct, one of the two lymph drainage ducts, to open and this facilitates drainage. As lymph transport in the thoracic duct is mainly caused by the action of breathing it is important to work with the breath while in the pose.
Jdd: If you get a cold or some sickness, then your immune system has been compromised and some people feel they should train or exercise their way through it but that won’t help. Its best to rest or do light exercise at most, depending upon your energy levels. Listen to your body. If you work within your level you can actually optimize your immunity.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jdd: Yes, I heard a radio programme a while back where colostrum was being discussed in relation to immunity. Colostrum is the first milk expressed from a mammal and inside it, are the antibodies that protect the newborn against disease, it is also lower in fat and higher in protein than ordinary milk, so it has all the things that are needed to set the baby’s body up in terms of immunity. You can take bovine colostrum in a vege-capsule form and I personally have found it helpful in avoiding colds and sicknesses.