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How yoga helped me cope with covid-19

A yoga expert shares advice on using yoga to feel better if you contract the coronavirus infection, and for general wellness

You can practise pranayama even in bed
You can practise pranayama even in bed (iStock)

During the first few months of the covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that an individual’s immunity plays an important role in how it responds to the viral attack, and how severe one's symptoms and long-lasting its effects will be. —

I tested positive for covid-19 roughly 10 days ago and I was blessed that my symptoms have not been very severe. But, I won’t chalk it up to providence entirely. I have been a yoga practitioner practically all my life and I believe that it was yoga that came to my rescue.

Research shows that Yoga has proved to be an effective way to increase immunity and aid recovery.

To begin, here are a few ways to increase your immunity. Cultivate a daily yoga practice that comprises asanas, pranayamas and meditation.

Trikonasana or Triangle Pose
Trikonasana or Triangle Pose (Akshay Gupta/Pixahive)

Suryanamaskar: Surya Namaskar is a sequence of 12 powerful yoga poses. Besides being a great cardiovascular workout, Surya Namaskar is also known to have an immensely positive impact on the body and mind.

Garudasana: This balancing pose helps stimulate fresh blood flow throughout the body by squeezing pressure points, giving the body a jolt of immunity-boosting fluid. The squeezing motion in the legs and arms helps to boost circulation and release toxins.

Trikonasana: Physically, this pose is strengthening for the legs and core, but it also helps to open the hips and release tension in the shoulders. The Triangle Pose also stretches the fascia around the lungs, helping with breathing.

Ardhamatsyendrasana: Half Spinal Twist pose is one of the best and most important asanas in Hatha Yoga. It has a huge amount of benefits which cover all the body systems.

Dhanurasana: Dhanurasana puts pressure on your belly, which in turn helps strengthen the digestive system and immune system.

Matsyasana: Another effective yoga asana to increase immunity is the Matsyasana. This yoga pose is widely considered to be the “destroyer of all diseases.” This yoga asana offers various benefits for the immune system. Also, it may offer relief from fatigue as well as increases immunity and metabolism as well.

Along with these postures, it’s also important to cultivate a strong pranayama practice. Since covid is an infection that attacks the respiratory system, it’s important to strengthen the lungs. Pranayama is the most effective way to do that. The three most important pranayamas to practice as a preventive measure are:

1. Kapalbhati (which is also a Kriya)

2. Bhastrika

3. Anulom Vilom.

Along with also this, its recommended to add at least a few minutes of meditation. It could be anything from guided meditation to yoga nidra to even taking a few minutes and only focusing on the breath.

Moving on to what can be done if you do test positive, since your immunity is compromised and your body is using up all its energy to fight the virus, the best thing you can do is rest. However, there are a few things you can try while you are resting in bed:

1. Gentle supine twist: this can release tension from your spine and hips

2. Anulom vilom (without nasal holds) is a good pranayama to practice as it clears out the nasal passages and balances body temperature.

Once you start recovering, you need to be careful to not do too much too fast. Do not try to do intense postures right away. Start with these postures:

Child's Pose
Child's Pose (Akshay Gupta/Pixahive)

1. Child's pose: this is a restful pose that calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue

2. Paschimotanassana: Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings.

3. Badhakonasana: calms your body, opens your hips and stretches your lower muscles.

4. Shavasana: Calms thcentral nervous system, aiding the digestive and immune systems. Calms the mind and reduces stress. Reduces headache, fatigue and anxiety. Helps lower blood pressure

This virus has almost forced us to completely reevaluate our lifestyle choices and decisions and made us look at health as a crucial part of our life. Let’s start building a healthier world, one day at a time!

Sarvesh Shashi is founder, SARVA and Diva Yoga

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