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Yoga helps improve respiratory health, immunity post Covid: Experts

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New Delhi, June 21, 2021 (Agency) Yoga has long been known as a holistic medium to achieve health and wellbeing. The Covid-19 pandemic has further put the spotlight on the myriad benefits of yoga.

On the occasion of International Day of Yoga on Monday, experts said that practising yoga can boost respiratory health and immunity post Covid.

It has been observed that nearly 10 per cent of people diagnosed with Covid-19 experience prolonged symptoms, including breathing trouble, headaches, blood clots, nausea, fatigue and muscle pain which may last for weeks, months, possibly years even after recovery.

Apart from a healthy diet, yoga can play an important role in the recovery process post Covid, experts said.

“Yoga can help support, balance and boost the immune system and can help fight oxidative stress that poses a risk to the healthy cells. While the novel coronavirus especially attacks the respiratory system, breathing exercise or ‘pranayam’ can help a lot in strengthening the system if done in a correct way and under good guidance,” Ismit Tyagi, Consultant Physiotherapist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram, told.

Patients who have recovered from Covid-19 can do some easy yoga movements to increase the body’s capacity.

“Movements like Tadasana, Chakrasana, Trikonasana, Bhujangasana and Pawanmuktasana will not only help in increasing the capacity of the lungs, but will also increase the amount of oxygenated blood in the body and transfer direct blood to the brain, due to which the body feels strong and young. Yoga also helps to maintain proper alignment of our body besides enhancing our immunity,” said Chitra Kataria, Head-Rehabilitation, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi.

Besides physical health, the pandemic has taken a severe toll on the mental health of people — dealing with the deaths of loved ones, loss of jobs, being cooped up at home and uncertainty of the future. All these can result in feelings of anxiety and despair.

“Yoga could be useful during the pandemic in three ways — helping to cope with the stress by alleviating depression and anxiety, improving the respiratory system which is mainly damaged by the virus, and boosting immunity. 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,” said Tilak Suvarna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.

While yoga and meditation are known to be beneficial for holistic health, there is no proof that they help the human body to fight coronavirus. However, studies on yoga in managing flu symptoms during an influenza season have shown promising results, the experts noted.

Regular yoga practice can also help people of all ages prevent and control noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes — a major risk factor for developing severe Covid-19 symptoms, said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

NCDs kill 41 million people globally every year, more than a third of them prematurely.

“People living with NCDs are at higher risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms. They must continue to be provided uninterrupted access to NCD services and encouraged and enabled to take preventive action, for which yoga at home can prove beneficial and safe,” Singh said.

“Yoga is a powerful way for people of all ages and incomes, whatever their gender or ethnicity, to prevent and control NCDs, increase overall physical and mental health, and reduce individual and public health expenditure,” she added.

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