Fight coronavirus with pranayama
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
July 11, 2020
We all know that COVID-19 is caused by coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, and it is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs. This disease can cause mild to severe breathing difficulties. The first coronavirus survivor from New Delhi had recommended pranayama to all, claiming it helped him fight the disease. Is pranayama really helpful in fighting this disease? Let’s dig in a little more to find out the answer.
The primary organs of the respiratory system are the lungs, the function of which is to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide as we breathe out. We are respirating every day effortlessly, but making sure our breath is effective, breathing to our full capacity, the correctness of our posture to allow full expansion of the chest, is of prime importance.
Pranayama is believed to achieve a healthy mind and body, and attain a higher state of awareness. Pranayama is controlling breath; the ‘Prana’ stands for breath or vital energy and ‘Ayama’ means control.
We do everything to protect ourselves from the deadly coronavirus; wearing masks, social distancing, sleeping well and eating homemade healthy food. Since this virus affects the respiratory tract, we should also put efforts to increase the lung capacity. This is the prime focus of pranayama. There are multiple benefits of practising pranayama daily, some benefits that can be helpful in fighting coronavirus include:
- Pranayama boosts the immune system by targeting the diaphragmatic movement which helps to stimulate the movement of lymph- the fluid containing white blood cells.
- Pranayama helps in clearing out the nasal passages and stuffy noses.
- Practising Pranayama daily helps in alleviating digestive problems.
- Pranayama can purify as many as 80,000 nerves in the body and balances out the energy flow of the body.
- Pranayama helps in detoxification and excellently removes all accumulated toxins from the body, giving a natural glow to the body.
- Pranayama helps relieve stress and calms the mind. It also helps improve concentration and memory.
- People suffering from blood pressure, diabetes and depression can also benefit from the regular practice of Pranayama as it helps bring sudden spikes under control.
One of the most popular forms of Pranayama is Kapalabhati or skull shining breath and is known to benefit health in multiple ways, including weight loss and stress-related disorders, apart from building immunity against multiple diseases. Follow these steps to practice Kapalbhati:
- Sit in a cross-legged position, keeping your spine straight.
- Place your palms on your knees, facing up.
- Inhale normally through the nostrils and exhale sharply, pulling your navel in- toward your spine – allowing your belly to forcefully expel all the air.
- As you relax the navel and abdomen, your breath will flow into your lungs automatically.
- Remember to keep your back straight, body relaxed and place your hands on your knees.
- Repeat the same for 15 minutes. Take a break every 5 minutes, if needed.
Beginners may start slower, practising two minutes a day until the body is eased into this practice. The best time to practice Kapalabhathi is in the morning on an empty stomach. But you can also do this breathing exercise 2 hours after your last meal. If you are looking for something less intense, you can try Nadi Shodhan or Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. To do this, simply:
- Sit cross-legged, ensuring your spine is straight
- Place your left hand on your left knee and cover your right nostril with your right thumb
- Breathe in slowly and evenly, filling up your lungs entirely.
- Then close your left nostril with your ring finger of your right hand, and then release the breath slowly from the right nostril. Count one to ten if you need help in slowing down your breathing.
Pranayama, when done correctly and regularly, offers a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. In these tough times, Pranayama can be a natural and easy way to help you fight the Coronavirus, while effectively taking care of your mental health. Get your family to do pranayama with you, and make this a fun family activity!