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Self-care is vital as we head into a busy pumpkin carving season filled with cold and flu viruses. Prepping your immune system with supplements, healthy foods, regular exercise, and staying hydrated are all the basics. But what if you could take it one step further and exponentiate these fall health benefits with your yoga practice?
During the fall season, acupuncture professionals work towards strengthening the lymphatic system, lungs, and intestines to keep the immune system healthy. You are what you eat, but if your gut isn’t able to sufficiently absorb and process your nutrients versus excrete waste, then the immune system can struggle. Promoting lung and intestinal health is very effective as a preventive care method, and you can modify your yoga practice to encourage the same benefits.
You can promote your immunity by deepening your breath to clean out your lungs, twisting from the waist to invigorate the organ's natural filtration responses, and stretching the myofascial tissues to encourage hydration—and release toxins.
Here’s a simple fall yoga sequence based on this concept to help you reap the health benefits of the autumn season.
Release tension and loosen tight neck muscles to get started.
Sitting comfortably with your right arm over your head, allow your right hand to cup your left ear and—without pulling—drop your right ear towards your shoulder. Next, press into your left hand straight down towards the ground and slowly drop your chin to your chest to feel that awesome stretch through the neck muscles. Hold for three deep breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Use three-part breathing to unwind and de-stress, all while clearing your lungs. Lowering stress levels will improve immune health dramatically.
Start with one hand on your chest and take a sip of air to fill your chest. Without exhaling, move your hand to your lower ribs and sip more air to fill the diaphragm. Move your hand to your belly and sip even more air to fill your belly. When you are full of air, begin to exhale to empty just your belly. Then move your hand back to your ribs and exhale to empty the diaphragm. Finally, move the hand back to your chest to empty all the air. Go slowly and repeat this five times.
This long hold is great for stretching the chest wall to help open the diaphragm and lungs. It is relaxing and perfect for decompressing after a stressful week.
Take a rolled-up blanket or a small rectangular cushion and slide it between your shoulder blades as you lie on your back. Rest your head on a block or the top of the cushion so your neck isn’t strained. Let your arms fall open on either side of you, and feel free to bend or straighten your legs to relax. Stay for as long as three minutes if you like.
Add even more lung and diaphragm clearing by starting in a loose forward fold with your knees slightly bent. Gently roll up to standing, reaching your arms up and overhead.
Take a long sip of air in and as you exhale with open mouth and eyes wide. Cactus your arms around your ears and stick your tongue out. Then sip the air back in and reach your hands to touch overhead before forward folding down through the heart center and dangling upside down in ragdoll for a couple of breaths. This tongue-out action elevates the hyoid bone below your chin and above your thyroid, to encourage the digestive process from the top down. You could repeat this a few times over to really reap the benefits.
Rocking in this backbend shape massages the intestines to help filter out waste and toxins.
Reach back and catch one or both feet or ankles. Press your thighs towards each other to keep your back safe, and kick your feet into your hands. Then very gently rock front to back and side to side.
Get deeper into a belly massage (and undo the backbend above) using this easy twist.
From a seated position, place your hand on your opposite knee and twist to look over your shoulder. Remember, it’s not about how far you turn your head; it’s about how much you twist from your middle. Return to neutral and repeat on the opposite side.
This shape is incredibly underrated.
Savasana is about engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which encourages de-stressing and promotes our “rest and digest” response. Decreasing stress is a great way to promote a healthy immune system, so stay here for eight minutes— that is about how long it can take to interact with that parasympathetic response.
Repeat something similar to this as part of your self-care regimen this season and see how it makes you feel!
Approximately 12,000 women aged 40 or younger are diagnosed with breast cancer every year*. Fortunately, there are preventative steps that we can take to help protect ourselves and each other—one of the best ones being exercise. That’s right. Not only does exercise help us release endorphins, but just 30 minutes of exercise three to four times per week can help decrease a person’s risk of developing breast cancer by 30–50%*.
This is hope in a statistic. Just by adopting a more healthy, active lifestyle, we could prevent the risk of developing breast cancer, while also inspiring others to reduce their risk as well. Keep A Breast Foundation has made doing just this their mission through their annual fundraising campaign, Fit 4 Prevention.
Every October, studios from all over the globe participate by raising money through donation-based workout classes for the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB). They have created a national movement dedicated to educating others about breast cancer prevention through fitness and wellness—something Mindbody is extremely passionate about. Participating in your favorite activities, all while supporting, preventing, and spreading awareness about breast cancer awareness? Let’s get moving.
If you want to take a donation-based class at your favorite studio, encourage your favorite studios to sign up to bring your community closer together in a meaningful way. Registering is quick and easy. If you think your local studio may be interested in participating, have them check out KAB’s help page—where they can learn how to register for a donation-based class during the month of October. KAB even has a social media kit available to fitness studios to help them promote their donation-based classes.
Can’t find a local studio to take a donation-based class near you? Don’t worry, you can still give your support by donating directly to KAB’s website. Luckily, any time that you are moving your body and spreading the word—you’re doing your part in spreading awareness on how to help prevent breast cancer. That is beyond amazing.
This October, we hope you’ll join us in our plight to support the KAB Foundation and its mission to help prevent breast cancer through cultivating a healthier, more active lifestyle. Through movement, health, and wellness—we can reach great heights, together.
To learn more about the KAB Foundation and its mission and how you can get involved further, visit their website.
* National Cancer Institute