International Yoga Day 2021: Turn to these asanas for post-Covid recovery | Health - Hindustan Times

International Yoga Day 2021: Turn to these asanas for post-Covid recovery

BySrinidhi Gopalakrishnan, New Delhi
Jun 21, 2021 01:58 PM IST

From basic breathing practices such as Anulom-Vilom to Suryanamaskar and other postures, yoga can be the way out for those looking to regain stamina and immunity.

The country is still recuperating from the brutal impact of the second Covid-19 wave, and at a time like this, the significance of mindfulness is indisputable. It is, indeed, at a crucial juncture that we are celebrating International Yoga Day, today, under the theme ‘Yoga for Well-Being’.

Basic breathing exercises such as anulom vilom are said to improve breathing and help relieve stress. (Photo: Shutterstock [Images for representational purposes only])
Basic breathing exercises such as anulom vilom are said to improve breathing and help relieve stress. (Photo: Shutterstock [Images for representational purposes only])

That yoga is vital for physical and mental well-being has been discussed at length, more so over the last one year. However, it has also proved beneficial for those on the road to recovery from Covid-19.

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“I have been practising yoga all throughout my life,” shares OP Gupta, residing in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, who contracted the virus in April this year. “It is only yoga which came to my rescue during Covid. While recovering, I practised asanas such as Garudasana (eagle pose) and Matsyasana (fish pose). I also did Suryanamaskar,” he adds.

“Yoga, as a philosophy, allows us to see the way we are, and as a practice, allows us to improve our overall health. It is a way of holistic living that can be used to fight diseases and lead a happy, healthy life. To stay healthy both physically and mentally, you need to sustain vital energy, nourish your body, boost immunity and support mental health,” opines Dr Rajeev Rajesh, chief yoga officer at a naturopathy institute.

Yoga has also come to the rescue of those coping with the stress and anxiety of being in isolation, away from their loved ones. Sahana Nikhil, who works with a gaming company in Gurugram, recalls, “I was down with Covid-19 in May, and isolated myself at home. It was very difficult for me to stay cooped up in a room, with nothing to do. I was too drained out to work, and would often experience severe mood swings, as I was unable to interact. This is when I was advised to join an online yoga session. Not only did it help me gradually build strength, it also kept me occupied, thereby keeping my mental well-being in check. Since it was a video session, I could easily understand and replicate all the postures. Now, after having recovered, I am continuing to practice the asanas I learnt.”

Despite having tested negative, many who contracted Covid-19 are facing challenges in getting back to their normal routines. And, here is where yoga plays a crucial role. “Yoga is known to be a good way to gradually build immunity, relax the body and mind, which ultimately helps in faster healing. It not only works on improving physical well-being, but also helps tackle mental exhaustion after the infection,” observes Dr Vinay Bhatt, general physician. He adds, “For instance, the combination of Marjaryasana (cat pose) and Bitilasana (cow pose), gently stretches the body and warms it up to relieve stress, soothe the spine and stomach. Also, Anulomi-Vilom, that includes alternate nostril breathing, is known to help reduce stress, improve breathing and circulation, which is important for post-Covid recovery.”

For those looking to begin their yoga journey, here are a few asanas you could start with:

Bhramari Pranayama: “It is also known as the humming bee breathing technique, and can instantly calm your mind. People having issues related to blood pressure should practice this breathing technique. It even helps mitigate migraines, improve concentration,” says Deepika Dikshit, senior yoga teacher.

Matsyasana (fish pose): This posture, Rajesh says, encourages deep breathing and boosts the body’s energy level. It also clears the nasal pathways and soothes congestion, which is beneficial for recovery from Covid-19. “Sit in Padmasana, lie on the back with the support of elbows. Inhale and elevate your chest. Bend the neck back and place the head on the mat. Hold your big toes and bring the elbows down. Breathe normally and stay in this posture for a minute. While exhaling, release the above posture.”

Matsyasana promotes detoxification, strengthens the immune system. (Photo: Instagram)
Matsyasana promotes detoxification, strengthens the immune system. (Photo: Instagram)

Kapotasana (pigeon pose): “This asana strengthens back muscles and improves posture,” says Dikshit, adding, “Kneel with your back to a wall, soles touching the wall. Clasp your hands at the back of your head, lean back, and rest your crown on the wall as you press your forearms against the wall.”

Bhujangasana (cobra pose): Lie down on the stomach. Place the palms beside the chest. The elbows should be close to the body and must be facing upward. While inhaling, raise the head, chest and navel up, bend the head back and look up. Maintain this position with normal breathing for some time. While exhaling, release the posture and relax. This asana stretches the chest, improves respiratory functions and reduces fatigue and stress. It also strengthens the spine, gluteal muscles, and shoulders and improves the flexibility of the back.

Bhujangasana improves respiratory functions. (Photo:Shutterstock)
Bhujangasana improves respiratory functions. (Photo:Shutterstock)

Advasana (reverse corpse pose): Lie down on your stomach, arms on each side of your body. Take a deep breath and stretch your arms out in front of you. Begin by relaxing your whole body. Start relaxing your toes, move up to the ankles, knees, buttocks, pelvis, chest, shoulders, head and then back down. Do this for about two to three minutes. Advasana aligns and strengthens the spine, and improves ventilation by reducing dorsal lung compression.

Author tweets @srinidhi_gk

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