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Twisting and compressing your torso can improve organ function.
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Yoga does more than just stretch your muscles and joints. Certain asanas -- or poses -- compress your internal organs to enhance function, which also increases fluid motility in your blood vessels and lymphatic system. With deep breathing and mindful meditation, regular organ and muscle compression can help you resist diseases and reduce stress, allowing you to work and play with no distraction.
Every time you compress and release an organ with yoga asanas, such as your liver and gallbladder, you move old blood, bile and lymphatic fluid out of it and allow fresh blood and prana -- or "life force" in Sanskrit -- to flow in, according to Jeff Migdow, MD, director of Prana Yoga Teacher Training in New York City. Massaging all the organs of your digestive system improves its process of digestion, assimilation and elimination, as the food particles are constantly moving through the intestines. Likewise, compressing your glands, such as your pituitary gland and thymus gland, will energize your mind and body by removing toxins and old blood. These compressions will also bring forth fresh, oxygenated blood.
Ways to Compress
Forward bends and inverted asanas, such as Downward Facing Dog or Sirshasana -- a headstand -- will encourage blood flow to the sinuses, which stimulates the immune system in the region to combat respiratory congestion, according to Yoga Journal. Twisting poses, such as Half Moon and Seated Twist, wring your muscles and connective tissues like a tourniquet. These moves also compress your spleen, liver, ascending colon and descending colon. You can either hold the pose for a duration of time or oscillate from the starting position to the finishing position.
Yoga compression exercises, a form of meditation, reduce stress by elevating endorphins in your brain. These are neurotransmitters secreted by your brain to enhance the feelings of pleasure and well-being, according to Yoga Journal. This release of endorphins will decrease the cortisol level in your blood that suppresses the immune system and decrease bone formation. Although a minimum of 20 minutes is necessary to gain the full benefits, start with five minutes a day and gradually work your way up.
Never perform yoga asanas when you are sick or in pain. Complete a full rest cycle before performing the exercises. If you are new to yoga, take a few classes with a qualified instructor for feedback on your form and technique.