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Our memories are flooded with information pertaining to the pandemic and how to keep illnesses at bay. Have we ever been so serious and thoughtful about cold, cough and flu? Have we ever been so extremely cautious about our health and lifestyle interventions? I guess No!
For us it might be a big change as we have to look into the things we overlooked before. These days other than Covid-19, homestay the second thing that is trending on digital world is Yoga for Immunity.
We believe in yoga but hellomyyoga keeps itself skeptic so that we share right information with our community. We have Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Director of Centre for Yoga Therapy Education and Research and a Professor of Yoga therapy at Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Puducherry to enlighten us on this topic: 

hmy - “Yoga for Immunity” do you think is it the right way to say?
Dr. Ananda - We often talk about yoga for this and yoga for that. But actually, the practice of yoga should be done for the sake of Yoga itself. All the benefits that we get from the practice are the side benefits of yoga.
The practice of Yoga is no doubt, a blessing for the whole human functionality. This is especially applicable in the field of psycho-neuro-immunology. This is a new field in medical science, and it enables us to understand how our thoughts and emotions can influence our nervous system, the brain, the hypothalamus and the limbic system especially. And through this, influence our immune function.
Hence, the practice of yoga is definitely a factor that gives us a sense of inner peace and inner ease. Such an inner state of ease results in optimal functioning of our immune system. Hence, saying “Yoga for immunity is not wrong”. But I would prefer to say, enhancing one's inherent immune function, through the practice of yoga.

 
hmy - Mind, body, and breath coordination create body awareness, does it has any relation with Immunity?
Dr Ananda - Mind, body, and breath coordination, creates body awareness. This is absolutely related to immunity. The immune function is directly related to our stress response, and hence when we are stressed the immune response is going to be distorted. On the other hand, when we are relaxed it is going to be efficiently functioning in the practice of yoga.
The smooth body moments in Yoga are coordinated with mindful slow and deep breathing, and a conscious awareness of being present in the “Now”. This is the way that the body, the mind, the emotions and the spirit, all come together and enhance holistic health and wellness. The World Health Organization talks about physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. All these domains of health may be attained, maintained, sustained, and retained through the practice of yoga.

hmy - Do you think with each twist poses we actually wring out toxins?
Dr Ananda - When we do twisting poses, we are influencing the internal organs of the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic cavities. Within the thoracic cavity we have the lungs and the heart; within the abdominal cavity, the stomach, the spleen, the liver, the gallbladder the intestines and the kidneys; and in the pelvic cavity, the genitor-urinary tract organs and reproductive system. All of them are given an efficient massage; a self-massage when we do the twisting postures.
Most of the time, the toxins and negativities tend to stagnate in the abdominal cavity. All traditional systems of medicine reiterate that disease begins with faulty digestion. When there is stagnation in the digestive tract, the urinary tract, the chest etc there is an accumulation of toxins that Indian systems of medicine call “Ama”. When we do various twisting practices we are compressing and relaxing the organs within these cavities, and hence we are enhancing circulation at the physiological level. At the psychic level we are enhancing the flow of energy Prana, the life force itself. Hence the twisting poses are excellent to help us detox ourselves.

hmy - Many researchers say yoga is a preventive practice but is it really curative as well?
Dr Ananda - 
It is true that Yoga is primarily a preventive practice and healthy way of living in tune with nature.

Maharishi Patanjali tells us, ‘Heyam Duhkham Anagatham”, i.e., prevent those miseries that are yet to come.

However, in modern times, we have more and more research evidence that yoga, not only has a preventive potential but can have an adjuvant potential as add-on therapy with other systems of medicine. At CYTER of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, a Deemed University in Pondicherry we have seen that the addition of a Yoga component to the modern medical treatment protocol enhances all round health benefits for care seekers.

At the same time, if the condition is in its initial stages, what we call the psychic and psychosomatic stages of the disease, Yoga on its own, may be able to help the person come back to normal. Once it goes into the third and fourth stages of disease, ie. the somatic and organic stages, Yoga is usually an add-on adjuvant therapy to be used as part of an Integrative Management Protocol. It, of course has great potential as a therapy, both on its own, as well as with other systems in the field of rehabilitation and palliative health care.


hmy - How do you compare yoga with other forms of exercise like Tai chi?
Dr Ananda - Both yoga and other forms of Asian traditional practices such as Tai Chi are based on the principle of energy. We as human beings are energy beings. We are a solar being living in a solar system.
 
And this is why the solar plexus, known as Manipura Chakra is our psychic umbilical cord, connecting us to the cosmos.  All these traditional systems that are found in Asia, understand that the navel center, the Nabhi is of prime importance for health and healing, manifesting the essence of wellness. Both Tai Chi, and Yoga, give importance to various meridians, which we call Nadis and Chakras, in the Indian system. They share a mindful focus to enhance the flow of energy, known as Prana in our Indian system, and Chi in the Chinese system. “Yatho mana thath Prana- where the mind goes the energy flows”. This is a core principle of all the Asian traditional systems of health and healing. They are the original Mind-Body Medicine.

hmy - Lastly is yoga 100% safe?
Dr Ananda - 
Real Yoga is as safe as mother's milk, said my Guru-father Yoga Maharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj. However, later on, he went on to add even mother’s milk may no longer be safe. The practice of yoga is safe, yet many people perform it in a wrong manner and face the consequences of improper approaches. They perform it without proper instruction or with a lack of mindfulness.
 

Recently, a very famous cricketer and his actress wife had an Instagram post with her in the headstand, though she is in the last trimester of her pregnancy. This is absolutely unsafe. I have made a statement that “Yoga is safe, but the way we apply it, the way we use it may be unsafe”.

This is because we are not following the proper protocols, the proper approach with a proper Yogacharya. Yoga must be approached in the proper manner with due respect and care. If this is done, Yoga is definitely safe. However, an unsafe approach will surely lead to unsafe Yoga, and dire consequences. So in conclusion, it is not Yoga that is unsafe, but it is the approach people take to its practice and application. This is even more because of the haste with which they try to rush through the healing process. We need to remember that healing takes time. That is why it is essential that we have patience. If we develop this quality, this noble attitude, we can get back to a healthy state of being at the earliest.