While the second wave of Covid-19 has already sparked panic around oxygen shortage and lack of medical facilities in India, experts are warning of a third wave soon which leaves us with no option but to prioritise our health and immunity system like never before. A study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine explored the healing benefits of yoga and meditation practices as potential adjunctive treatments of Covid-19.
There are anti-inflammatory effects associated with meditation and Yoga. The ‘brief overview of key subjects’ found “there is evidence of stress and inflammation modulation, and also preliminary evidence for possible forms of immune system enhancement, accompanying the practice of certain forms of meditation, yoga, and pranayama, along with potential implications for counteracting some forms of infectious challenges.”
Check out the steps and health benefits of these 5 Yoga exercises that will not only strengthen your immunity system amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but will also improve your lung capacity that will aide your breathing:
1. Anulom Vilom Pranayam or Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique of Yoga
Method: Start by sitting in a cross-legged position. Rest your hands on your knees and close your eyes. Keep your right thumb on your right nostril and close it. Inhale deeply from your left nostril for 4 counts.
Now close your left nostril with your right ring finger and hold it for 2 seconds. At this step, you are holding your breath with both your nostrils being closed. Take off your right thumb from your right nostril and exhale deeply through your right nostril.
Inhale from your right nostril for 4 counts while continuing to keep your ring finger on your left nostril and then, close both nostrils for 2 seconds and exhale deeply with your left nostril. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Concentrate on your breathing while doing it.
Benefits: This breathing technique has a number of benefits like improving immune system, boosting your memory, improving respiratory and cardiovascular health and regulating blood pressure. This Yoga asana also improves sleep and helps to de-stress.
As the ancient practice of controlling breath, Pranayama connects body and mind, supplies body with oxygen while removing toxins and is meant to provide healing physiological benefits. The stress-relieving effects of pranayama improves one’s sleep quality, increases mindfulness and reduces high blood pressure.
2. Vrikshasana or tree pose of Yoga
Method: Balance yourself on one leg, with the other one folded and supported on your inner thigh. Stretch out your hands above your head and point them directly upwards.
Clasp them together in anjali mudra. Gaze in the distance, shift the weight to your left leg while keeping the right knee bent in half lotus position and hold onto this posture for a few seconds before releasing and repeating the same with the alternate leg.
Benefits: This asana helps to bring balance to your mind and body. It makes your legs stronger and is a great hip opener as assists it the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.
The shift of the entire body’s weight to each leg strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet. It also helps strengthen the thighs, calves and ankles and and helps improve focus.
Precautions: This asana should be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or migraine or insomnia issues.
3. Bhujangasana or Cobra pose of Yoga
Method: Lie down flat on your stomach. Rest your palms by the side of your chest, arms close to your body, elbows pointing outward. Inhale and raise your forehead, neck and shoulders.
Raise your trunk using the strength of your arms. Look upward while breathing normally. Make sure that your stomach is pressed on the floor. Hold the pose for 5 seconds. Slowly lie back flat on your stomach. Turn your head to one side and rest your arms by the side of your body.
Benefits: The reclining back-bending asana of Yoga called Bhujangasana or Cobra pose strengthens the spine, butt, butt muscles, chest, abdomen, shoulders, lungs and improves blood circulation while also releasing the stress in one’s body.
Precautions: Though it is also a useful remedy for asthma patients, it is not to be performed during an asthma attack.
4. Matsyasana or the Fish Pose of Yoga
Method: Lie down on your back with legs straight on the floor and hands beside the thighs. Keep your palms near the shoulders and your fingers pointing towards them. Inhale, press your palms on the floor, lift your shoulders and head up and drop the top of the head on the floor.
Arch your back while keeping your hands up in namaskar mudra. Lift both of your legs at 45 degrees angle. Hold the posture for 10 seconds and release.
Benefits: This exercise has multiple benefits. From stretching the chest, abs, hip flexors and neck to stimulating two important areas of the body. First is the throat chakra which relates to communication and self-expression and second is the crown chakra, on the top of your head, which is tied to wisdom and knowledge.
Precautions: Avoid this pose if you have a neck or back injury or even if you have a headache.
5. Paschimottanasana or seated forward-bend of Yoga
Method: Begin with Dandasana and place a strap around the feet while grasping them by the hands if the back is stiff. Ensure that your knees are slightly bent and legs stretched out forward.
Then inhale and extend your arms straight out to the sides and up over your head, reaching toward the ceiling while keeping your spine erect. As you exhale and empty your stomach of air, begin to come forward by hinging at your hips and place your upper body on your lower body.
Lower your arms, grip your big toes with your fingers and try to touch your knees with your nose. Remember to lengthen your spine on each inhale and deepen into your forward bend on each exhale.
Benefits: Though seemingly easy, it offers loads of benefits especially for those suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. One of the major health benefits is that it calms the body and relaxes the mind. It also helps circulate fresh blood to the head thereby relaxing the mind and reducing insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Did you exercise today?