Yoga & Ayurveda -its Relevance to COVID-19

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25 Jun 2020

Since ancient times, around 5000 years back, Yoga is a wonderful gift of India to the mankind that has travelled across the globe. It has now been embraced by almost all the societies, men and women, children and adults without any boundary of nations, geography and faiths.

Yoga is a way of living that aims towards achieving healthy mind in a healthy body. Human beings are physical, mental and spiritual being; yoga helps promote a balanced development of all the three. Yoga has a holistic effect on our well being, it brings the body, mind, consciousness and soul into balance.

Yoga benefits us in numerous ways viz. it enhances blood circulation and maintains blood pressure, improves respiratory system, boosts immunity, reduces stress and depression, helps in maintaining pulse rate, helps for better cardiovascular endurance, stimulation of organs, improves gastrointestinal health, Increases core strength and helps you heal faster, creates higher levels of pain tolerance, energizes your mind and body, improves sleep, helps in integrated function of the body and brings about a positive outlook towards life.

Both yoga asanas and yoga breathing exercises maintain overall respiratory system. Asanas that move our spine in all directions of movement and that stretch/strengthen the muscles all around upper torso, help support the respiratory system by keeping respiratory muscles strong and flexible. Yoga breathing practices lengthen the inhalation and exhalation.

To improve respiratory system and correcting breathing pattern following yoga practices are recommended.

Bharastika :Bharastika comprises of exhaling and inhaling in order to provide complete oxygen to our body. This asana gives strength to lungs, helps in allergies, asthma, respiratory diseases, improves immune system and helps in common cold.

Anulom Vilom Pranayama: It helps in stress and depression and improves the functioning of lungs and an efficient practice for asthma patients.

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama: Also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, it helps in releasing tension, stress and keeps the mind calmer.

Kapalbhati Pranayama: This is a breathing technique which helps in the improvement of respiratory system functioning.

Savasana: A sleeping pose which helps in providing  relaxation to the mind and body. It improves concentration, treats insomnia, improves mental health, and relaxes muscles.

Trikonasana : Trikonasana allows for the easier passage of air to the lungs and helps to open and expand the chest cavity.

Matsyasana: Matsyasana can help in balancing and distributing oxygen by enhancing blood circulation and stimulate deep respirations by stretching the lungs.

Ardha Matsyendrasana: Ardha matsyendrasana can open up the chest thereby increasing the supply of oxygen to the lungs. The pose induces the abdominal breathing that enhances the lungs functioning.

Shishuasana: It is excellent pose to decongest the chest and relax the mind.

We all come across stress, anxiety, and depression in daily life. In the ongoing  situation of COVID-19 pandemic everyone is going through different levels of stress which can weaken the immune system. Yogic practices can help people to reduce stress and related physical and mental issues. Through Yogic practices which comprise asanas, pranayama, relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises  we can  overcome stress. 

Yoga is one of the most effective and natural immunity boosters that leads to a healthy mind and body. Yoga lowers stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system while also stimulating the lymphatic system, which removes toxins from the body. Yoga calms the mind and can contribute to deeper, regulated sleep, which is crucial for wellness; sleep is one of the most important factors in healing and maintaining a healthy immune system. Thus yoga helps keep our cells healthy and reduces stress systemically in the body, which reduces inflammation.

International Day of Yoga is observed every year on the 21st of June all around the world. Realising the benfits of yoga for mankind, the day of 21st June was proposed by the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 highlighting the fact that 21st June is the summer solstice or the longest day of the year. The United Nations on 11th December, 2014 accepted the proposal of Indian Prime Minister and declared 21st June as International Day of Yoga. The draft resolution was introduced in the General Assembly by India’s Permanent Representative. The resolution was co-sponsored by 177 countries, which is the highest number of co-sponsors for a UN General Assembly resolution of such a type. Since the declaration of International Day of Yoga, public awareness about Yoga has increased tremendously. Today people in every corner of the world are practicing Yoga and benefiting from it.

The fundamental purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment. Yoga professes a complete system of physical, mental, social, and spiritual development. It reduces health challenging diseases and promotes growth, development and peace all through the world.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda, being the science of life, propagates the gifts of nature in maintaining healthy and happy living. Ayurveda’s extensive knowledge base on preventive care, derives from the concepts of “Dinacharya” – daily regimes and “Ritucharya” – seasonal regimes to maintain healthy life. It is a plant-based science. The simplicity of awareness about oneself and the harmony each individual can achieve by uplifting and maintaining his or her immunity is emphasized across Ayurveda’s classical scriptures. Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, recommends the following self-care guidelines for preventive health measures and boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health. These are supported by Ayurvedic literature and scientific publications.

General Measures

  1. Drink warm water throughout the day
  2. Daily practice of Yogasana, Pranayama and meditation for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Spices like Haldi (Turmeric), Jeera (Cumin), Dhaniya (Coriander) and Lahsun (Garlic) are recommended in cooking.

Ayurvedic Immunity Promoting Measures

  1. Take Chyavanprash 10gm (1tsf) in the morning. Diabetics should take sugar free Chyavanprash
  2. Drink herbal tea / decoction (Kadha) made from Tulsi (Basil), Dalchini (Cinnamon), Kalimirch (Black pepper), Shunthi (Dry Ginger) and Munakka (Raisin) – once or twice a day. Add jaggery (natural sugar) and / or fresh lemon juice to your taste, if needed
  3. Golden Milk- Half tea spoon Haldi (turmeric) powder in 150 ml hot milk – once or twice a day.

Simple Ayurvedic Procedures

  1. Nasal application – Apply sesame oil / coconut oil or Ghee in both the nostrils (Pratimarsh Nasya) in morning and evening
  2. Oil pulling therapy- Take 1 table spoon sesame or coconut oil in mouth. Do not drink, Swish in the mouth for 2 to 3 minutes and spit it off followed by warm water rinse. This can be done once or twice a day.

During dry cough/sore throat

  1. Steam inhalation with fresh Pudina (Mint) leaves or Ajwain (Caraway seeds) can be practiced once in a day
  2. Lavang (Clove) powder mixed with natural sugar / honey can be taken 2-3 times a day in case of cough or throat irritation

These measures generally treat normal dry cough and sore throat.

Role of Yoga and Ayurveda in fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak, entire mankind across the globe is suffering. Enhancing the body’s natural defence system (immunity) plays an important role in maintaining optimum health. We all know that prevention is better than cure. While there is no medicine for COVID-19 as of now, it will be good to take preventive measures which boost our immunity in these times. The spread of Covid-19 has put the focus of all on building immunity and yoga contributes immensely in immunity building. Yoga is a great tool to help improve respiratory health and immunity, both of which are involved in the prevention and healing from COVID-19. Ayurveda has enough potential and possibilities to be employed both for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The best ways of preventing COVID19 infection are breaking the chain, enhancing an individual’s body immunity, identifying the infection early and timely medical care.

During the present health crisis, Yoga has become all the more important as the novel  corona virus affects respiratory system. Strong immunity can help a person to overcome this disease. Yoga can strengthen the respiratory system through various pranayama techniques and can boost immunity. Yoga along with Ayurveda can safeguard us in this time of crises.

Poor mental health conditions, including stress and depression, are known to increase the risk of acute respiratory infections. Low immunity renders one prone to the COVID -19 infection.

Yoga 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. Pranayama, a distinct breathing exercise, is the practice of breath control in yoga and is considered as one of the best exercises for lungs. The current novel coronavirus pandemic has motivated most of us to get healthier to great extent. While the popularity of this ancient healing technique began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people seem to be turning to the practice of yoga to relax, boost the immune system to help fight off infections, including the one caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A number of studies back up the idea that regular practice of yoga and meditation can help increase the lung capacity and manage health conditions that put you at risk of contracting COVID-19. According to yoga experts, regular practice of pranayamas or breathing techniques make your lungs more efficient besides several other benefits. And here’s a powerful breathing exercise you can do to boost your lung and overall health – Kapalabhati Pranayama.

Arezo News – Contributed by  Consulate General of India – Mazar-e-Sharif

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