Research: How Yoga Can Help with Immunity
Here you’ll find bullet-point summaries plus quick links to studies that have reported the following findings:
- Yoga leads to overall well-being (2017)
- Yoga, stress and autoimmune disease (2018)
- Greater interoceptive awareness & stress resilience
- Impacts immune system at molecular level (2013)
- Lowered inflammatory response (2010)
- Decreased inflammation & cardiovascular risk (2016)
Yoga leads to overall well-being (2017) link
- A study published in the Journal Frontiers in Immunology found decreased inflammation in those practicing mind-body exercises. It’s believed that yoga helps to reduce stress, improve mood and emotional regulation, recognized effects of reductions in cortisol.
- Deep breathing and meditation may impact the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenals, helping to balance the nervous system. Possible outcomes include reduced blood pressure and heart rate and a state of being both calm and alert.
Yoga, stress and autoimmune disease (2018) link
- A study, Association of Stress-Related Disorders with Subsequent Autoimmune Disease, found a positive link between conditions brought about by stress and the body’s immune system.
- Though the causes are not yet understood, a higher risk of developing autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis) was found for those with stress-related disorders (PTSD, anxiety and depression).
- As various studies have found that yoga can help with stress and stress-related disorders, the author of this article postulates that yoga should be used as self-care for managing stress and trauma.
Greater interoceptive awareness & stress resilience link
- According to a study published in Biological Psychology, those with poor interoceptive awareness may be less able to adapt to stressful situations.
- Yoga, which emphasizes the integration of mind and body, may help to cultivate greater interoceptive ability and increase stress resilience.
Impacts immune system at molecular level (2013) link
- Norwegian researchers found that a comprehensive yoga program rapidly produces internal changes on a genetic level.
- The study confirmed earlier findings linking gene expression to the body’s immune system, and suggests this effect may be instantaneous.
- The study was with 10 participants attending a week-long yogic retreat including asana, breathing practices and meditation.
Lowered inflammatory response (2010) link
- Ohio State University researchers showed that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood.
- The women also showed smaller increases in IL-6 after stressful experiences. IL-6 is an important part of the body’s inflammatory response and has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and a host of other age-related debilitating diseases.
- Psych Central article link
Decreased inflammation & cardiovascular risk (2016) link
- Chopra Center research measured the effects of Ayurvedic practices which included group meditation and yoga.
- Findings from the study indicate that the brief intervention led to increases in well-being as assessed by measures of spirituality, gratitude and self-compassion.
- The study also found that these Ayurvedic practices helped decrease blood levels of metabolites associated with inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk, and helped with cholesterol regulation.
- Chopra Center article referencing research here.