Yoga Bliss Gambia: Immunity boosting Yoga Asana

There has been a surging interest in Yoga especially with the lifestyle changes that the Corona virus pandemic has brought to this world. Many have turned to yoga to relieve stress and keep the body and mind conditioned from the comfort of their home. There has been particular interest in the benefit of increased immunity from practicing yoga.

There are an arrays of yoga asana that are linked with increasing immunity that can be practiced. Here I would like to introduce to you to yoga asana that stimulate and condition the thyroid. The thyroid gland is a major role player for the endocrine system of the body which interacts with the immune system and the nervous system of the human body. Keeping your thyroid happy means your protective immune system will be at your best.
If you read the March issue article “Yoga for all” you know the drill!

Let’s get ready!

Before we start make sure you are wearing comfortable stretchy or loose clothes, prepare a calm space for your practice, and an exercise/yoga mat. If you don’t own a yoga mat, a large towel is just as acceptable too. Keep in mind that yoga shouldn’t be performed on a full stomach. If you are currently pregnant or have any underlying health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, sciatica, ongoing joint pains, recent injuries or surgeries please consult your Doctor as well as seek guidance from a yoga trainer to practice yoga safely with modifications and the correct use of props when necessary.

Initial preparations, Let’s start!

Take a comfortable sitting position whilst keeping your back straight. Rest the back of your hands on your thighs. Throughout this practice try to keep in mind that you should be breathing in and out through the nose.

Gently close your eyes, and start to bring your focus initially to your breathing. Notice how you are breathing. See if you can alter your breathing so that when you inhale you are expanding the ribcage and then allowing your stomach to expand like a balloon. We are creating space in the abdominal area to allow more room for your lungs to expand. When you exhale, feel that your stomach is coming back in and your rib cage lowering. Continue this process for at least 12 cycles before starting the asana.

Bhujangasana “Cobra Pose”

Lay down with your stomach on the mat. Bending your elbow, bring your palms to the side of your chest. While engaging the legs, buttocks and lower back, start to lift your upper body by pushing the palms down in to the mat. Do not fully extend your arms and lock the elbows. The lift should be maintained with your strength. Make sure your shoulders are pushed down away from your ears allowing you to bring your gaze forward towards the sky. Hold this position and take 6 deep breaths. With your last exhalation lower your chest down to the ground. Repeat this 3 times.

Ustrasana “Camel Pose”

Do perform this pose gently and slowly. Start by kneeling on your mat, keep your hands on your hips and extending your spine and engage your abdominal muscles. While pushing your hips slightly forwards start to come into a back band. Breathe in and out through your nose as you hold the back band for 3 to 6 breaths. Gently, come back up. This time bring your hands onto your heel as you come into a back band. Keeping this position take your breath in and out through your nose for about 3 to 6 breaths. Gently, come back up out of the pose.
Once you are finished come into a child-pose to gently stretch your lower back.

Setubandh Sarvangasana “Bridge Pose”

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip width apart on the mat. Arm beside your body your palms are facing down beside your hips. During inhalation, engage the buttocks and core and push your hips up. Ensure your hips are lifted and your feet pushing down into the mat firmly. Hold the position for 6 breaths. With the last exhalation gently lower the back onto the mat and relax your hips down. Repeat 3 times.

Halasana “Plough pose”

Lie on your back. As you inhale bring your legs up towards the ceiling, continue to bring the legs towards your torso by lifting your hips off the mat, supporting your back with your hand with the elbows placed on the mat. If your toes reach the ground past your head, remove your hands off your back and place your arms on the mat with your palms facing down. Keep this posture for 6 breaths. Repeat 3 times.

Matsyasana “Fish pose”

Lie on your back with your feet together. Bring your arms beside your body and place your hands under your hips with the palms touching the mat. Bringing your elbows closer, then as you inhale start to lift up your chest and head off the mat while you bend your elbows onto the mat for support. Try to lower your head back as much as possible to extend the front area of your neck. You should feel the stretch on your chest and neck area. Maintain this posture and breath in and out of the nose. Stay in this posture for as long as comfortable.

Dhanurasana “Bow pose”

Start by lying on your stomach with your forehead resting on the mat. Bend your knees and clasp your hands around your feet or ankle from the outside. As you inhale start to lift your head, chest, and thighs off the mat. Kick your legs away while pulling your feet/ankle in to help create and hold the lift. Stay in this posture for 6 breaths. Repeat 3 times.

Viparita Karani “Legs up the wall”

This is a restorative and relaxing pose. Start by placing the short end of your mat against a wall. Sitting sideways as close as you can near the wall lie on your side on the mat. Start to turn to face up brining your legs up along the wall. Your bottom should be touching the wall, so if you’re still away from the wall, try to shuffle yourself closer to the wall. Rest your arm down by your side with the palms faced up. Close your eyes and relax into the posture. Stay in this posture for 5 minutes.
Please don’t try to stand up rapidly from this position. Once you are ready to come out of the pose bend your knees, turn sideways and rest on your side to allow the blood circulation to equalise.

Cool Down

At the end of your session, always allocate time for relaxation pose (Savasana). Lie on your back with your legs slightly apart and extended. Your arms are slightly away from your body with the palms facing up. Make sure it is a comfortable position for you. Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. Stay in Savasana ideally for a minimum of 5 minutes, to allow your body to reach deep relaxation. Step by steps relaxation by body part awareness is provided in the March issue.

Stay happy, healthy and safe!

About Author

Melissa Kuwahata Daswani

Founder, Yoga Bliss Gambia and Yoga Bliss Creations
Melissa Daswani is a professional yoga teacher trained and accredited in Hatha Yoga from Rishikesh, India. She was introduced to yoga in the early adolesce by her mother who often practised yoga at their home and still continues to practice to date.

Melissa started to indulge in yoga with a keen interest in her 20’s after researching the benefits of practising yoga.

In order to expand her knowledge and practice, she initially enrolled on official training in India during 2009. Her initial stint in yoga teaching began in 2012 in Togo, followed by expanding in the Gambia from 2016. Melissa’s style of teaching incorporates the fundamental and crucial steps of yoga called Hatha yoga, which encompasses the basis of all other styles of yoga. Melissa believes that every individual has something to gain from Yoga which is not limited to mental, physical or spiritual.

Yoga is not a religion but more a spiritual exercise as well as a practice that can universally be incorporated into your daily routine. Melissa offers regular weekly classes in Fajara, the Gambia, which is open to all levels.

She also runs a weekly beach yoga class which is very refreshing and energizing.

It’s her love and dedication towards teaching which allows her the opportunity to share the essence of yoga and its benefits to people from all walks of life.

Whether you reside in the Gambia or a visitor in The Gambia, Yoga Bliss Gambia would love to welcome you to their next class.


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