The body’s immune system fights off potentially damaging agents by producing an inflammatory response. This response attacks and destroys the culprits and thus maintains the integrity of the body.
This inflammatory response, however, must be restrained the rest of the time. Too much inflammation, particularly on a chronic basis can be as harmful as a lack of inflammation to infection. Balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms is required for health.
When the system is out of balance such that the inflammatory response is dominant on a continuous (chronic) basis it tends to promote the development of cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, when the anti-inflammatory response is dominant on a continuous basis it leaves the individual vulnerable to infection. Hence, promoting the balance in the immune system is crucial for long-term health.
Yoga appears to do just that. Today’s Research News article, “Effect of Yoga Module on Pro-Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines in Industrial Workers of Lonavla: A Randomized Controlled Trial” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378732/
provides empirical evidence that yoga promotes immune balance.
This might be one explanation why yoga practitioners tend to be healthier and live longer.