International Yoga Day is observed every year on June 21 since 2015 following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. This International Yoga Day, Wockhardt Hospitals, Nagpur emphasize on the importance of yoga for people- especially patients recovered from COVID infection.
The COVID-19 crisis has had a vastly negative impact on people ranging from physical, mental, psychological, emotional, societal, and not to forget the financial aspect of it. The pandemic has left many with mental health issues, loneliness, constant fear, psychological suffering, depression, and anxiety.
Yoga can come to the help of people dealing with such a crisis, the United Nations explained on its website since the message of the practice is to promote both physical and mental health.
The experts suggest that since Covid-19 affects the lungs directly, it is imperative to strengthen the lungs. The exercises and yoga asanas suggested by the experts help in reaching ideal saturation level, oxygenation and restore lung function. The breathing exercises also help in blood circulation and making one feel active during this monotonous time.
Preparatory asanas (5-10 minutes)
Doing some loosening exercises like joint rotations is an excellent way to begin the practice. During the convalescence period, these can be done lying down or sitting on a chair. Moving all critical joints like the ankles, knees, hips, spine, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck will help improve circulation and reduce body ache. Afterwards, non-standing posture like Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana), Child Pose (Balasana), Side Bends in Easy Pose (Sukhasana variation), Crocodile Pose (Makarasana), Half-Camel Pose (Ardha Ushtrasana), Seated Spinal Twist (Half Lord of the fishes pose), Supine Spinal Twist (Jataraparivartan asana), Pavanmuktasana (Wind releasing pose), etc. can be practised as per individual capacity.
Choose asanas that are not too intense but help you move the body gently in different directions. These will help open up the airways and get the circulation going throughout the body, which will help you feel energized.
Cleansing breathing kriyas (2-3 minutes)
Cleansing kriyas like Kapalabhati help improve lung function and cleanse the sinuses, preparing us for pranayama practices. These should be done gently at about 40 strokes a minute. Three rounds of 30 seconds each are sufficient. Those with heart issues, acidity, hernia, slip disc should avoid it. It’s essential to be on an empty stomach before practising it. It is best done early in the morning. Those who are unable to do Kapalabhati can do 2-3 minutes of deep breathing in a sitting or supine position as an alternative cleansing practice.
Pranayama (5-15 minutes)
The best time to practise Pranayama is after asanas and breathing kriyas. It is because the blood circulation improves, allowing oxygen to be carried more efficiently, and your nasal passages, as well as sinuses, would be clearer. Essentially, you get the maximum benefit out of your practice. Sectional breathing, Nadi Shuddhi, and Bhramari are three fundamental breathing practices that you should include in your post-Covid routine. Sectional breathing helps you access maximum lung capacity, Bhramari helps improve oxygen absorption, and Nadi Shuddhi is excellent for the nervous system. You can also do Pranayama before sleeping as long as there’s enough gap after dinner. It will help you have a good night’s rest. In all breathing practices try to make your exhalation longer than your inhalation — a good ratio is 1:2. The length of exhalation can be double the length of inhalation.
If you’re feeling short of breath and are not yet ready for Pranayama, then doing deep breathing in the prone position (lying on the belly) is also very helpful.
Meditation (10-20 minutes)
Meditation will be pivotal in your recovery process as it helps the body achieve a relaxed, sleep-like state which promotes healing, recovery, and regeneration. The more stress-free, positive, and relaxed we are, the faster our recovery will be. Covid-19 is tiring physically, but it can also exhaust us mentally because of all the attention and awareness around it. Setting positive affirmations, mentally chanting a mantra, praying to a deity, creating a healthy and happy vision of yourself, or visualizing walking through a beautiful garden and taking deep breaths are some ways to find a calm and relaxed state of mind.