Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Learn how a regular yoga practice can boost your youngsters’ immune systems for cold and flu season.
It’s ba-ack! ’Tis the time for runny noses, fevers, and cough drops. Yes, flu season is upon us and will extend through April. But what—besides the flu shot and obsessively good hygiene habits—can you do to protect your youngsters? It turns out yoga may have a preventative effect for both children and the elderly, higher-risk populations.
“When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to pick up infections and get sick,” says Marleen Meyers, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center. “One thing yoga does is reduce stress.”
But that’s not all. Asanas can also have direct effect on the body’s immune response. “Many of the poses used, specifically make the immune system cells circulate,” Dr. Meyers says. “For example, opening up your chest allows the sinus gland to put out more immune cells. Twists also help by letting the spleen, which filters bacteria, and the lymph nodes to get more activated. By stimulating the immune system, the body can better prevent and fight off infection.”
Rebecca Strimaitis, Pure Senior Instructor for Yogi Beans in New York City, says she sees a lot more congestion, sneezing and coughing in her classes this time of year. “It’s important to get plenty of rest and relaxation to stay healthy and tough out the winter months. Kids are drawn to yoga to get that rest, especially to restorative poses.”
7 Yoga Tricks to Boost Kids’ Immune Systems
“Forward Bends nurture the body, draining out any congestion in the sinuses,” Strimaitis says.
Besides draining congestion, this can’t-skip pose also opens and activates the whole body.
Try Downward-Facing Dog.
“Backbends are key to opening the chest and heart and staying energized,” Strimaitis says.
Try Bridge Pose.
“Twists help to wring out vital internal organs and get out the yucky stuff in our body,” Strimaitis says.
Try a simple reclining twist.
“It’s wonderful, and helps calm the nervous system. Practice it for a few minutes before you watch TV or go to bed,” Strimaitis advises.
Breathing exercises are detoxifying and aid in loosening congestion, Strimaitis says.
Getting enough sleep at night is one of the most important things we can do to help our immune system. Restorative poses at the end of yoga practice give kids active relaxation to replenish and rejuvenate their bodies and serve as a great stress reducer.
ABOUT OUR WRITER
Erika Prafder is a veteran writer and product reviewer for The New York Post and the author of a book on entrepreneurship. A long-time yoga enthusiast and Hatha yoga teacher, she edits KidsYogaDaily.com, a news source for young yogis. The working mother of three resides in a beach community in Long Island, New York.