by Hannah Liot, Zuna Yoga 200 hour yoga teacher training student

Have you ever just felt off? Slightly tired, slightly sick, but you can’t quite figure out what’s going on with your body? Recently I was going through that. Instead of going to a doctor, I decided to see an acupuncturist. She told me that I had been feeling 'off' because I had inflammation in my body. Acupuncture would help, but I needed a long term plan. I immediately found myself Googling "what is inflammation" and diving into yoga and Ayurveda literature, looking for an answer.

Investigating further, I found that inflammation manifests itself in the digestive system and leads to low immunity, skin problems, digestive issues, sleep deprivation and depression. NP Marcelle Pick and founder of Women to Women explains that inflammation is caused by stress. Anxiety and stress cause your body to release a hormone called cortisol, which sends a shock to your immune system and central nervous system, causing them to become inflamed. Additionally, eating carbohydrates or treats with refined sugar bring up insulin levels in the body and continue to cause inflammation.

I also came across a study that was done at Ohio State University. Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and her team found that Yoga was directly linked to Anti-inflammation benefits. The study compared Yoga practitioners who held a regular weekly practice with a control group who infrequently practiced yoga. The results showed that the Practitioners had lower levels of an inflammation cells called IL-6 in comparison to the control group. When the groups were tested in stressful situations the practitioners were found to have less IL-6 in their system than people from the control group.

In Yoga and Ayurveda, inflammation is known as Pitta: fire and heat within the body. To soothe and heal inflammation, cooling asanas should be incorporated into the practice. Poses that twist the body are great anti-inflammatory aids because they massage and detox the digestive system. Moving through the practice at a slower pace will allow blood and lymph nodes in your body to circulate and detox without creating heat.
These are five anti-inflammatory asanas that will help rid your body of toxins and cool down your system:

Half Lord of the Fishes
Ardha matsyendrasana



Belly Twist
Jathara Parivartanasana










Revolved Chair

Parivrtta Utkatasana


Revolved Side Angle
 Parivrtta Parsvakonasana








Seated Easy Twist 






In addition to asana practice, pranayama also has a positive impact on inflammation. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Swatmaram explains that in particular the Sheetali breath has a cooling affect on the body. It rejuvenates the endocrine and nervous systems and it relieves the body of excess heat.

Sheetali breath

Sheetali Breath: Inhale for 4-5 seconds through a rolled tongue and release breath through the nostrils. 

Inflammation happens easily, and often we're unaware of it (until an acupuncturist tell us). Next time you're feeling tired and 'off,' think about the effects of inflammation, and try incorporating some of the these poses into your practice.

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