Yoga And The Immune System


Yoga is a gift given to the world by India. It is an ancient practice of “asanas”, “yogic kriyas” exercising poses, “pranayama” breathing techniques which cures the lung’s breathing ability and exercise tolerance of the human body. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and to make life healthy and joyful. Immunity is the key to protect our body from viruses, bacteria and diseases in general. As immunity is linked to one’s physical and mental health, yoga proves to be helpful a to our immune system. SA stronger immune system is able to fight viruses and make them inactive within the body. Practising yoga regularly can help build up immunity in a long run. 

Understanding the immune system and yoga

Study has shown yoga can neutralize the negative effect on our immune system by increasing the levels of natural killer cells, NK and immunoglobulins IGa.1 

It was hypothesised that yoga has an immediate effect on the sympathetic nervous system along with Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis, which is the main stress response system.1

The cause of major death issues such as heart attack, cancer, lung diseases, cirrhosis and suicide are highly related to lifestyle. During a fight-and-flight reaction, the body activates adrenals to release cortisol and other hormones, causing the ANS to be activated with physiological stress. Yoga can help with relaxing the body and mind, which therefore plays a key role in determining one’s well-being.

About the immune system

Immune system is composed of neutrophils, macrophages, monocytes, cytokines and acute-phase proteins. These elements are at the front line of the body against any foreign organism. Exposure to various organisms is likely to cause disease depending upon the pathogenicity of the organism and the extent of penetration. The immune system is a network of lymphoid tissues, cytokines, humoral factors and cells.3

Whenever this defence system goes wrong, it results in infections, diseases and allergies. The essential function of the immune system lies in recognizing, repelling, and eradicating pathogens and other foreign molecules.

There are two types of immunity Innate Immunity and Adaptive Immunity.

Innate Immunity reacts faster, sometimes damaging the normal tissue due to lack of specificity.

Adaptive Immunity is more precise but it may take several days or weeks to work. It is also able to recognise pathogen once exposed, thus can provide a more rapid and vigorous response in future exposure. The response is an antigen-specific reaction consisting of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes.

About yoga

Yoga is a holistic therapy that concentrates on the body, mind and willpower, and an interplay between thoughts and emotions. Practising yoga can help enhance self-consciousness, encourage positive thinking and brings inner peace. It is low-cost, has barely any side effects and can be practised by almost anyone.

By regularly practising yoga, the body shows improved flexibility, balance, strength, better breathing and an impact at cellular levels, better levels of white blood cells and immune function. Happiness, meaningful lives and greater self-consciousness are experienced by many who engage in yoga practice regularly.

Yoga is often misunderstood to be something that requires bending and twisting your body and doing some impossible physical postures. TIt is actually an experience where you see reality just the way it is and nothing less. Yoga is the “union” of the mind, body and soul. 

Link between the immune system and yoga

Benefits of yoga to the immune system

Yoga not only reduces the stress response but also has a positive impact on ANS, the endocrine system and the immune system. Yoga can be viewed as a form of self-care that helps maintain one’s health and well-being.

The benefits of yoga includes:

  • Decreases depression, stress and anxiety
  • Improve the quality of life in all age groups
  • Shortens the duration of labour and improves birth outcomes
  • Helps in pain management for lower back, neck and joints
  • Breathing practices - improves lung, particularly beneficial for asthmatic patients 
  • Physical strength
  • Protects the body from injury and detoxifies it
  • Greater mental strength and self-awareness


Yoga can influence our bodies positively and has great physical and mental benefits. Yoga poses with meditation and breathing techniques ‘Pranayama’ helps to boost the immune system thus making humans resistant to cold and flu.  

Practising Yoga stimulates the lymphatic system and eliminates the toxins from our body, bringing oxygen-loaded blood to organs and ensuring their proper functioning. It helps maintain homeostasis, functions related to the immune system and maintain inflammatory responses.  

Yoga helps in minimizing inflammation, is considered to be the body's mechanism to fight against infection, but prolonged inflammation weakens the immune system and the body’s ability to fight for itself.

Yoga as a mind-body practice started around 5000 years ago in ancient India. It is known to improve health and well-being across various conditions. Yoga is seen as a recreational activity, but it also has a positive impact on clinical interventions. The thought that humans have control over their minds and that everything within the physical states of the body is interconnected is what yoga empowers us with. A person’s state of mind is ultimately towards making his immunity stronger.


  1. Diamond L. The benefits of yoga in improving health: Lisa Diamond recommends the prescription of yoga to improve patients’ physical and mental well-being with little cost to the 
  2. health service. Primary Health Care [Internet]. 2012 Feb 28 [cited 2022 Nov 28];22(2):16–9. Available from:
  3. Majumdar AD, Soni VM, Munjal N. Ayurveda and Yoga: An Immunity Booster at the Time of COVID-19 Pandemic. Int J Res Eng Sci Manage. 2020;3(6)
  4. Parkin J, Cohen B. An overview of the immune system. The Lancet. 2001 Jun 2;357(9270):1777-89.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Tasneem Kaderi


Tasneem is a dental practitioner since 5 years in India. She is also a Medicolegal consultant plus Hospital and Healthcare Administrator since 2 years. She has a diploma in Clinical Research and Pharmacovigilance and is working as a Data Analyst for Medical Devices at 3Analytics, California. An avid reader and optimist at heart, loves to scribble here and there.

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