With the onset of the second wave of the highly contagious coronavirus, most people are reporting difficulties in breathing and issues related to the respiratory system. Since the original and the mutated form of the virus is a form of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), it chiefly causes damage to the lung tissue, leading to breathlessness and mucus formation. Hence, constant emphasis has been laid on the importance of strengthening the respiratory system to take care of the lungs and cut back the risk of infection and severity. And what better way to safeguard the lungs and reduce the risk of this infection than by breathing exercises. For this purpose, since the beginning of the pandemic, freewheeling advice has been circulating throughout the various social media platforms to practice different forms of pranayama techniques with some even claiming to get rid of the virus from the body. But is there any truth behind it?
Let this article be an eye-opener as to what type of pranayama one should avoid doing while suffering from Covid-19.
What Is Pranayama?
Pranayama is a yogic technique of breathing that helps to boost the respiratory system by increasing oxygenation throughout the body. By allowing the body to increase its capacity for the amount of oxygen it absorbs, the healing capacity of the body is effectively sped up and accelerated.
Although there are several types of breathing exercises that are recommended to perform both pre, during and post-covid to clear the air passages and increase lung capacity, yet there are also some that one should totally steer clear of.
According to Dr. Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, “Breathing exercises don’t really help to remove the virus from the body but mild ones can uplift the health of the lungs to a certain extent. What really helps is performing posture changes like proning to improve oxygen saturation levels in the body while suffering from Covid. But on the flip side, he also warns that whenever a person is experiencing low oxygen saturation, they should not be doing any heavy breathing exercises. For people who are COVID positive or patients with pre-existing respiratory ailments like asthma, certain forms of Pranayama that involve forceful breathing might leave you breathless and cause other issues and hence are not advisable.”
We bring you a list of 3 Pranayama techniques that should not be done while suffering from Covid-19.
Pranayamas To Avoid
The word Kapalbhati is made up of two words - ‘Kapal’ means ‘skull’ and ‘bhati’ signifies ‘shining’. This breathing exercise though extremely beneficial for healthy individuals as it helps in ridding the body of toxins, improving metabolic rate and enhancing the functioning of the liver and kidneys. But in the case of a person suffering from Covid-19, it puts a lot of pressure on the internal organs and even causing breathlessness and dizziness in people with severe symptoms. It is also not recommended for people suffering from asthma, heart issues, high blood pressure, ulcers or any respiratory diseases.
The word Moorchha signifies ‘fainting’ or ‘swooning’. The pranayama is usually performed by breathing in slowly and then holding the breath for an extended duration. Although, this breathing exercise bestows a subtle feeling of euphoria, but it is not suited for everyone. One can only perform this high-level pranayama technique after mastering the mild breathing exercises. But doctors and experts strictly restrict people suffering from any kind of respiratory disorders especially the ones suffering from Covid-19 not to try it as holding breath for a longer duration may increase dizziness, which will, in turn, put additional pressure on the lungs and even affect cardiac functioning.
Although the working principle of Bhastrika Pranayama is quite similar to Kapalbhati, yet both are different. This breathing exercise chiefly requires one to inhale and exhale at a faster pace, just like a blacksmith blows the bellows and hence often termed as ‘bellows breath'. Despite the fact that it is a simple breathing exercise, it can produce too much body heat, while exerting pressure on the lung tissue and eventually leaving a healthy person dizzy and gasping for breath. Hence, people with ongoing Covid-19 infection and people suffering from heart and hypertension issues are advised not to attempt this breathing exercise.