Recovering from COVID with Yoga Therapy

If you’re recovering from COVID, you may be finding that it’s still hard to breathe like you used to. That’s because this virus most often affects the respiratory system and can have long-lasting effects on your lungs. However, these side effects of COVID don’t necessarily have to stick with you for life. Let’s discuss how to use yoga therapy to improve your respiratory performance.

Person seated in a yoga pose while wearing a mask as they practice recovering from COVID with yoga therapy

Post-COVID Symptoms

If you’ve had the coronavirus in the past and are still recovering from COVID, you may still be experiencing fatigue, difficulty breathing, or poor circulation. Older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious long-term complications from COVID-19.

These symptoms clear quickly for some, but others struggle long after the virus is over. This is often referred to as long COVID. If you’ve had COVID and you’re finding that you fall into the second category, yoga therapy may be able to help.

Yoga Therapy and COVID-19 Respiratory Problems

If your respiratory muscles were impacted by COVID-19, research shows that you may benefit from breathing exercises that are found in yoga. A study published in the journal Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation shows that breathing exercises that strengthen the diaphragm and stretching are important for recovery. The study recommended a series of different breathing exercises that are designed to rebuild respiratory muscles.

Other studies have also recommended breathing techniques like Ujjayi and pranayama practices that focus on breath retention. Researchers believe these can help those dealing with chronic coughing and breathlessness.

Many COVID patients suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome. This is caused by fluid leaking into the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing. People with this syndrome tend to lose elastin in their lungs and they become more rigid. Yoga therapy can help to increase elasticity in your lungs with proper breathwork.

Yoga therapy is thought to help those dealing with the effects of COVID because it helps to decrease inflammation. COVID acts like an inflammatory disease as it sets off an immune-system response that kills healthy cells. Stress makes the inflammation worse. By practicing yoga, those recovering from COVID can deal with the inflammation and learn to breathe easier.

3 Yoga Poses to Help with COVID Recovery

Several yoga poses can specifically help with COVID recovery because of the way they impact the body. Before you start, be sure to consult with your physician and with your yoga teacher. While these are low-impact yoga movements, your body is still recovering from COVID and is in a weakened state. It’s always best to check in with your body and with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Additionally, if these poses are too intense for your current physical condition, you can easily modify them by using props to support your yoga poses.

Cat-Cow Pose

The cat-cow pose can help people link their movements to their breath. Since many people who have had COVID may not have had a chance to move much, they may feel disconnected from their bodies.

To do this pose:

  1. Start with your hands and knees on the ground with your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Your back should look like a tabletop.
  2. Inhale slowly and let your belly fall towards the floor. While you’re breathing in, raise your chest and chin towards the ceiling as your belly moves downward. If you start coughing, that’s okay. Wait a few moments to recover your breath, then try again.
  3. As you exhale, press your hands firmly into the ground, round your spine up toward the ceiling, and tuck your chin into your chest.
  4. Alternate between these poses for one minute.

Locust Pose

Locust pose can help those who have experienced a mild form of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It can be seen as a version of proning that can help those suffering from ARDS.

To do this pose:

  1. Lay face-down on your yoga mat with your arms resting along the sides of your hips. Your legs should be hip-width apart and the tops of your feet should be touching the ground.
  2. Inhale and raise your head to look forward.
  3. On exhale, keep your head raised but also lift your chest towards the ceiling and arms out to the sides. Your body should look like a cross.
  4. Open your chest further by moving your arms slightly back towards your feet.
  5. If you are able to, lift your feet slightly into the air for a deeper stretch. Imagine a thread is attached to the bottoms of your feet and is pulling your legs gently up.
  6. Your body weight should be balanced on your hips, belly, and lower ribs.
  7. Breathe deeply and hold for up to one minute.

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

The fish pose helps open the lungs and heart. This is perfect for increasing elasticity in your lungs.

  1. Sit on your yoga mat with your legs crossed.
  2. Grip the tops of your feet with your hands.
  3. Slowly lay down, placing the very top of your head flat on the ground. Your chest should be facing the ceiling.
  4. Keep the arms under your lower back.
  5. Lift your upper body further and take a deep breath in.
  6. Keep your head on the ground while keeping your back arched.
  7. Use elbows to maintain balance.
  8. Open the chest by inhaling and exhaling deeply.
  9. Hold in this position for as long as you can.

Yoga Therapy and Long COVID Physiological Symptoms

People with long COVID may also experience physiological symptoms that they just can’t shake. These can be brought on by stress and lead to poor sleep and fatigue. Yoga therapy can help to reduce stress and improve sleep as well as decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.

Many people with long COVID often find themselves dealing with these types of symptoms as well as breathing issues. Yoga therapy can be a good choice to help manage this and help your body recover.

Yoga Therapy at The Yoga Connection

If you’re recovering from COVID or just want a general way of detoxing your mind and body with yoga therapy, The Yoga Connection in Smithfield, North Carolina can help. We offer private yoga therapy sessions and yoga classes for all levels. If you’re near Raleigh or in the Smithfield area, call us today at  919-971-1431 or reach out to us online to learn more about our classes and yoga therapy.