The year 2020 is defining one of the most memorable years of our lifetime. This unprecedented COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives, creating a new way of working and living. During these times of change and uncertainty, it’s important to focus on self-care. It‘s an important time to bring our health and well-being to the forefront.
For the past few months, we have been hearing a lot about nutritious food, sunlight, Vitamin D, exercises, immunity, and staying healthy. Earlier our priorities were different. But now we have the time to introspect our lifestyle and make the necessary changes to regain or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Yoga is known to be excellent training for a clear and healthy mind. It also promotes physical health in multiple ways. Studies have shown that regular Yoga practice correlates with increased well-being, stress and inflammation modulation, immune system enhancement, and counteracting some forms of infectious challenges.
Yoga and Immunity
There is an undeniable relation between stress, hormones, and immunity. When we have stressed our body, it produces the hormone cortisol. Stress triggers insulin resistance too. Imbalance of hormones results in the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system which in turn causes hypertension, shortness of breath, insomnia, and negative emotions.
Yoga is a gentle approach to stimulate our organs to gain optimum capability. This can be achieved through postures or Asanas and in Yoga.
A posture is defined as a state of steadiness and comfort. Yoga postures along with the controlled breathing exercise called Pranayama. This can help boost immunity.
When we practice Yogic postures and Pranayama our parasympathetic nervous system is activated which in turn controls hypertension, improves lung efficiency, gives good sleep, generates and positive emotions.
A survey report from India claims that Bhramari Pranayama (Bhramari means bee) showed excellent results in 2004 in the fight against the SARS-CoV. Bhramari Pranayama increases the production of nitric oxide which has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and facilitates the smooth functioning of the respiratory, digestive, and blood circulatory systems. Ginger, garlic, lemon, pineapple, leafy vegetables, pomegranate, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of nitric oxide.
Sit relaxed in a quiet place and close your eyes. Close your ears with both index fingers. Now take a deep breath in. As you breathe out make a long humming sound just like a bee. Repeat this 5-10 times, twice a day on an empty stomach for maximum result.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Stand on your knees with each leg a little apart. Bend backward slowly. As you do this exhale, raise one hand and gently place the palm on the corresponding heel. Likewise, place the palm of the other hand on the other heel. This may feel a little difficult in the beginning but will improve with practice. Now inhale, bend your head backward and feel your chest fully opened up. Stay in the Ustrasana for a few seconds. Come back slowly to the original position. The Camel Pose expands chest muscles, increases oxygen supply to the cells, and improves lung efficiency.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Now slowly lie down on your back. Hold the hips with both hands and supporting the upper part of the body on your elbows try to curve back by raising your chest. Continue it till the crown of your head touches the floor. Stay in the position for a few seconds and come back to the original position releasing your arms and legs. Breathe easy and relax. Matsyasana regulates hormonal balance, especially thyroid problems, and stimulates sense organs. This particular Asana is especially good for the lungs.
Some research findings suggest that Covid-19 is here to stay. Until an effective vaccine is found out the only armor at our disposal is good health. Some of you may be perfectly fit, others may be having health issues, some others on their path to regain good health. And there is a fourth category who take their health for granted. Yoga fits the bill for all. As the world copes with the new normal the best way you and loved ones can adapt to the change is by building a robust body and balanced mind. And Yoga is a key to unlock that world of health and wellness.
By Dr. Akhila Vinod
(Dr. Akhila Vinod is a certified Yoga Therapist specialized in Corporate and Holistic Training, Naturopathy Consultant, NLP Practitioner, and Acupuncturist. She holds an Ultimate Back Care certification from STOTT PILATES. Her innovative practices include Kalari Yoga, Yogance, Yoga for Disabled, Yogilates, and Yogic Healing. Dr. Akhila is a versatile Indian classical dancer as well. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org)