Yoga can play a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID19 patients.
By Dr. Anshu Punjabi,
Returning to normal life after COVID19 is a gradual process and experiencing post-recovery symptoms is usual. Many patients experience extreme fatigue, breathlessness, muscle, and joint pain for a bit longer than expected, making it difficult to carry out the day-to-day task. Yoga can play a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID19 patients. It can be particularly useful in allaying a patient’s fears and Anxiety. However, it is important to practice Yoga safely and slowly without exerting the body too much.
DO’S AND DONT’S FOR YOGA AFTER COVID: Starting slow simply means involving in low-intensity Yoga positions and performing any activity for only 5-10 minutes a day. The focus should be on improving Lung capacity and the natural Mucociliary clearance mechanisms of the respiratory system, through simple breathing exercises. However, excessive respiratory exercises can also cause harm. While exercising make sure you do not hold your breath for a long time.
It is important to discuss with your doctor or Physiotherapist what exercises you should start with. People who have had a long hospital stay due to COVID19, should do simple bedside exercises, and not indulge in too many bending exercises. Any exercise that makes your Lungs and chest contract, should be avoided. 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. One can practice the palm tree pose, mountain pose, and other simple asanas which help in expanding Lung capacity under the guidance of an expert. Moreover, diaphragmatic breathing, Nadi Shuddhi, and Bhramari breathing practices can be included in your post-COVID routine. Diaphragmatic breathing helps you access maximum Lung capacity, Bhramari helps improve oxygen absorption, and Nadi Shuddhi is excellent for the nervous system. Avoid doing pranayama like Kapalbhatti, Bhastrika as forceful exhalation can cause some patients to feel dizzy in the recovery period. It is crucial to understand that these asanas must be done under the supervision of an expert, to ensure there is no injury or overexertion & to make sure that you are doing the right postures.
Apart from this, doing some loosening exercises like joint rotations is an excellent way to help improve circulation and reduce body ache. These can be done lying down or sitting on a chair and by moving all critical joints like the ankles, knees, hips, spine, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck. Once your strength builds up a few weeks after COVID, you can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your routine.
Alongside, stress management is also crucial because COVID19 also causes a lot of emotional and mental stress. So, both stress management and restoring the Lungs’ function should be the focus of the Yoga practice post-COVID19.
SIGNIFICANCE OF MEDITATION: Meditation can be very instrumental in the 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. Remember, COVID19 is tiring physically and mentally. Setting positive affirmations, mentally chanting a mantra, or praying can create a healthy and happy vision of yourself. While meditating one can visualize walking through a beautiful garden and taking deep breaths, this can help in achieving a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Above all, Yoga is effective when people maintain abstinence from substance abuse including Tobacco, alcohol, and other addictive drugs.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Each person’s recovery journey is different. If any activity or exercise makes you tired or breathless, take rest and start again after some time. Set small goals for you to achieve every few days. Try to plan your exercise routine around the time of day when you feel most energized. If you develop any symptoms, please seek help from a trained healthcare professional before continuing with your Yoga routine.
(The author is Consultant-Pulmonologist & Sleep Medicine Expert, Fortis Hospital, Mulund. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult Yoga experts and professionals before starting any practice. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)