Yoga: Recovering From COVID-19. While many people around the globe who have contracted COVID-19 have been Asymptomatic, many others have been ravaged by the effects of the virus, with a significant percentage of those people experiencing ongoing effects after they have initially recovered. This is being referred to as “long COVID-19” or “post-COVID-19 conditions”.
Some of the common symptoms being reported by medical professionals and long COVID-19 sufferers, sometimes referred to as “long hauliers”, include, but are not limited to:
- Chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Joint and muscle pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of taste and smell
- Heart palpitations and more
Yoga: Recovering From COVID-19. It is fair to say that you do not want to fare the worst this disease has to offer. And as we have seen, it has, unfortunately, cost many their lives.
In the wake of the first waves of critical care COVID-19 patients since the virus’s emergence, an ally has emerged in the fight for recovery after acute COVID-19 symptoms, and patients and healthcare professionals are singing its praises; YOGA!
Yoga vs COVID-19
In an article published by the Pacific Neuroscience Institute®, it states that thought leaders and experts from institutions such as MIT, Harvard, and UC San Diego have collaborated on a review to explore alternative and complementary therapies, like Yoga, to aid the immune system and the body in fighting and recovering from the COVID-19 virus.
The review concluded that certain meditations (Dharana & Dhyana), postures (asanas), and breathing techniques (pranayama) might be an effective adjunctive means for aiding in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 viral infections.
Fighting Hyper-inflammation Responses
Several studies have been conducted since the mid-90s that show positive indications that meditation and yoga classes could help the body regulate an overactive hyper-inflammatory response, like the type many are experiencing after contracting the COVID-19 virus.
how long does it take lungs to heal after covid-19, One of these studies from the early 2000s proposed that learning yoga and meditation techniques and committing to a regular practice could be an effective adjunctive intervention against severe forms of infectious diseases.
Some of the infectious diseases mentioned in the study included:
SARS is a coronavirus, like COVID-19, which could explain why so many people who continue or take up yoga classes or home practices after contracting COVID-19 are seeing faster recovery times than others who have not.
The biggest contributing factor that makes experts unsure is the same as any scientific medical hypothesis; time is needed to conduct more studies and provide clearer answers.
Yoga: Recovering From COVID-19 However, so far, Yoga and meditation seem to be showing impressive results in assisting the body to control, balance and regulate the body’s overactivated inflammatory responses in relation to COVID-19 “long haul” symptoms.
Importantly, particularly where COVID-19 is concerned, such studies have also shown promising immune effects relevant to lung health.
The Vagus Nerve and Yoga
The powerful vagus nerve has medical scientists paying attention. The vagus nerve, also called cranial nerve [CN] X or the 10th cranial nerve, is one of the longest and most complex nerves in the body.
It runs from the brain, through the face, thorax, and down to the abdomen and beyond. So what does the vagus nerve and Yoga have to do with fighting or recovering from COVID-19?
Yoga: Recovering From COVID-19 Vagal Tone
People whose bodies are unfortunate enough to deal with the worst of the COVID-19 are put under a lot of stress. This stress puts a lot of pressure on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
When this stress gets too extreme, a person’s fight or flight mechanism can go out of balance, and the immune system and natural inflammatory responses go into overdrive.
By using Yoga techniques like controlled breathing, asanas, and mindfulness, a person can regain a healthy “vagal tone“.
This has been linked to a reduction in inflammation, improved and balanced immune responses, and reduction of stress, anxiety and depression; common symptoms in long haul COVID-19 patients.
The current and future stress of COVID-19
Everybody has experienced the pandemic differently. While some have even reported flourishing through the lockdown periods, many have seen some very dark days.
Many, too, have seemingly lost any resemblance of the life they used to know, losing jobs, shutting down businesses, and facing severe financial hardship.
While we are quite aware of the myriad mental health impacts that COVID-19 has had on the global population thus far, the future is unknown. However, psychology and allied health professionals do appear to agree that society is unlikely to come out unscathed.
This is another area in which regular yoga lessons or a disciplined home practice may help support and maintain optimal mental health under the current pressures and potential future pressures that will be faced in the post COVID world.
We are in new territory as a global society, and we are all only just beginning to feel our way out of our houses and back into our communities.
Yoga is a great way to connect with other positive people who are also on their journey to finding the new COVID normal. Sharing your yoga practice with a group can do wonders for your mental health and provide support while reminding you that you are not alone. We are all in this together.
How have you coped with the lockdown periods? Was yoga part of your COVID-19 stay sane strategy? Are you unlucky enough to have caught COVID and used Yoga to help in your recovery? If so, we hope you are on the mend or fully recovered.
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