Strengthen Your Immune System With These Yoga Exercises

Yoga increases strength and endurance and improves balance and flexibility. It also improves the function of your immune system, which may prevent illness.

Tight hips, hamstrings and back muscles are common in people who sit much of the time. Yoga stretching exercises like this beginner pose stretch these tight muscles, which help prevent lower back pain.

Plank Pose

Whether you are an experienced yoga practitioner or a beginner, plank pose can be beneficial for your practice. It can strengthen the core muscles, increase balance and help to prevent back pain. This pose can also help to build endurance, which is essential for advanced poses like headstand or handstand.

Known as Phalakasana, Santolasana or Kumbhakasana in Sanskrit, Plank Pose tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles while strengthening the arms and spine. It is often used as a transitional exercise between Sun Salutation flows in Vinyasa yoga, but can be done on its own to build strength and endurance.

The classic version of this pose puts a lot of pressure on the wrists, so those with carpal tunnel syndrome or thumb arthritis may want to modify by bending the knees or doing a forearm plank. This pose is not recommended for pregnant women or those who have recent or chronic injury to the shoulders, hips, wrists, lower back or upper legs at the thigh area.

Downward-Facing Dog Modified

A common pose in many yoga classes, downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) works numerous muscles. It strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hip flexors and hamstrings.

While most students are taught to point the elbow eyes toward the corners of the mat in down dog, it’s helpful for some people with larger or tighter shoulders to rotate them out a little so that their palms face each other rather than the floor. This creates more space for the shoulder blades and helps avoid collapsing the shoulders together, which puts unnecessary stress on the shoulder joints.

If you’re unable to extend the legs all the way to the mat and find that it’s difficult to support your weight in the lower body, placing blocks under the hands can reduce some of the strain on the wrists. This also shifts more weight into the legs, which are typically better conditioned to sustain the weight of the upper body.


Chaturanga is a powerful move, but it can also be damaging to the shoulders and wrists when it’s done incorrectly. To help prevent shoulder injuries, broaden the chest in plank and keep your elbows close to your body as you lower down into Chaturanga.

A good Chaturanga should look like a plank of wood, with the shoulders in front of the wrists and feet on tip-toes. A rounded upper body will put too much weight on the shoulders and wrists, so be sure to lift your heels and push back through your core to avoid drooping or sticking out in any direction.

If you’re having trouble lowering into the full pose, try placing a bolster or folded blanket under your body when you are in High Plank to help support your wrists and hands as you bend your elbows to lower down. With enough practice, you’ll build the strength to do the full pose without any discomfort in your shoulders or wrists.

Warrior I

Also known as Viparita Virabhadrasana or Proud Warrior, this pose is a great way to build strength. It’s a deep side lunge that strengthens the back, legs, and arms while stretching the hips and chest. It can be challenging for beginners, as the back foot tends to swing out to either side of the mat and keeping the hips squared can be difficult. If this is the case, try lifting your back heel into High Lunge or Crescent Pose instead.

The back leg extends into a 90-degree angle, directly over the ankle, and the front knee is stacked on top of the ankle. This pose provides a stretch in the back of the leg (quadriceps and hamstring) and hip flexors while strengthening the ankle, calf, and front thigh muscles. It also challenges balance and builds core strength, and it prepares the body for more advanced backbends. It’s a good pose to incorporate into yoga flows.