People are quite rightly worried about the Coronavirus and at this time we really need to ensure our immune system is as strong as possible. Time and again massage, yoga and other mind body therapies such as mindfulness and meditation have been shown to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
In a recent review of clinical research on 15 randomised controlled trials specifically on whether yoga practice could strengthen the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation, scientists found that yoga has a promising anti-inflammatory effect on the body and that yoga practice may exert further beneficial effects by enhancing cell-mediated and mucosal immunity (1).
Various studies on massage have shown that natural killer cells and natural killer cell activity (cytotoxicity) have increased following moderate pressure massage (2)(3).
Natural killer cells are noted to ward off viral cells, bacterial cells and cancer cells.
Massage stimulates pressure receptors under the skin which increase vagal activity. This produces a parasympathetic (relaxation) response which reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and thereby saves immune cells in as much as cortisol kills immune cells (4).
So the more stressed we are the weaker our immune response is, it’s as simple as that.
It’s great to have these scientific studies to back up what we already know…Yoga and massage make us feel good!
We’re all fully aware by now that we have to follow simple rules such as washing our hands thoroughly, avoid touching our faces and sneeze or cough into a tissue.
If you’re feeling unwell, get plenty of rest as sickness is your bodies way of telling you to slow down so listen to it. Check out my YouTube channel for Yoga Nidra and restorative practices you can try at home.