Practicing yoga is best suited during the COVID-19 pandemic because it manages physical and mental issues
A yogic lifestyle helps to calm our minds through triggering our parasympathetic nervous system through various asanas and Pranayama, helps to reduce tension in muscles and joints. Yoga has been used since ancient times in keeping the body functioning fit and fine, holistically. And the benefits of yoga are not just limited to stress relief and mental wellness.
Yoga can recharge your body, get rid of the toxins, negative energy and keep your vital organs functioning well. It can help you build resilience both inside and out. Yoga asanas can help support, balance and boost the immune system. It can also help fight oxidative stress which poses a risk to the healthy cells. Yoga does offer a great deal of wellness and support for your mind and body as a whole.
Yoga works on each and every part of our body. It helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, while also conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function.
Hormonal balance is key to improving immunity. A person with strong immunity has greater success in fighting the COVID-19 infection. Practicing yoga is best suited during the pandemic because it manages physical and mental issues.
It seems that science backs up this observation. According to William Mitchell, N.D., a Seattle-based practitioner who teaches advanced naturopathic therapeutics at Bastyr University, studies show that many viruses and bacteria quietly reside within us until something within the body's internal environment becomes unbalanced. Then they rally into action and attack.
Since both colds and flu (COVID-19) attack the bronchial passages, it makes sense that conditioning the lungs and maximising one's breathing capacity through Pranayama would build resistance to preying organisms. Cold and flu infections, allergies, asthma, and other chronic respiratory conditions are "directly linked to a weakened immune response" due to "disturbed, irregular habits of breathing."
If bronchial congestion has you gasping for air, practicing Ustrasana, Gomukhasana and Balasana with arms extended in front, moving into Bhujangasana to open the chest and prevent pneumonia. The one exception to this rule, according to Alice Claggett and Elandra Kirsten Meredith in their book Yoga for Health and Healing: From the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan (1995), is in the case of fever. Sitting in Sukhasana (Easy Pose), with the backs or sides of the hands resting on the knees, thumb and index finger touching in Gyan mudra and breathing through the tongue, Shitali Pranayama for a minimum of three minutes will help reduce temperature.
It seems reasonable to focus preventive measures on the areas of the body that fall directly under siege: namely, the nasal and bronchial passages. But the yoga tradition also suggests that colds and flu result from poor digestion or an energy imbalance originating in the digestive tract, which results in a build-up of mucus and phlegm that moves into the lungs, is that improper digestion causes toxin build-up, which in turn manifests as disease anywhere in the body. Asanas that gently compress, twist, or extend the belly can help a host of digestive ailments.
While the asanas make up the cornerstone of infection prevention, yoga's benefits don't stop there. Since both colds and flu (COVID-19) attack the bronchial passages, it makes sense that conditioning the lungs and maximising one's breathing capacity through Pranayama would build resistance to preying organisms. Cold and flu infections, allergies, asthma, and other chronic respiratory conditions are "directly linked to a weakened immune response" due to "disturbed, irregular habits of breathing." Drs. Robin Monro, R. Nagarathna, and H.R. Nagendra, authors of Yoga for Common Ailments (Fireside, 1991), also emphasise breathing exercises. Sectional breathing and rapid abdominal breathing (Kapalabhati) "increase the resistance of your respiratory tract," they advise, while the nasal wash and alternate-nostril breathing "increase the resistance of your sinuses." Recent findings from a Penn State University study involving 294 college students support this.
Finally, meditation also reduces the incidence of infectious ailments by de-stressing the body and mind. Ample research has shown that just 20 minutes of meditation a day increases endorphins, decreases cortisol levels, and fosters positive states of mind to promote better health.
Be assured that whatever your current yoga practice entails, it already strengthens your resistance. Practice the asanas, pranayam and meditation regularly throughout the year to better your chances of staying healthy and fight with any virus comes on your way.
Have a holistically, beautiful life.
(The writer is founder, Heal Tokyo and HealIndya Movement. She is spiritual healer, yoga teacher, performance coach, motivational speaker & a philanthropist, Japan)