Staying Fit During Quarantine: Yoga Routines To TryThe word Yoga is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means to join, to unify, to bind together. The roots of this word go as back as the origins of the Upanishads in 800 BC. Yoga is the process of uniting the mind, body, and spirit to create individual energy which further unites with the universal energy. Yoga aims to awake the human self to the path of higher consciousness by unifying the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga leads to a calm, serene, and blissful state of life. During this adverse time of COVID-19 when we are forced to stay at home in quarantine, Yoga can be a powerful tool in the arsenal to help us keep our mind and body fit. With lockdown and quarantine, we are restricted from going outdoors or even to the gym to pursue our fitness regimen. The only available space is our home and Yoga comes as a rescue to this dilemma. Yoga can be practiced anywhere with little to no equipment, making it a perfect way to boost our immunity and our mental wellbeing. Yoga is known for its ability to help strengthen not just the mental power but also for the cardio-muscular effects it induces on the human body. There are various yoga asanas, mudras, and deep breathing exercises that you can do during this quarantine period to pave the way for self-improvement. Stephen Cope, the renowned author of ‘Yoga and the Quest of the true self’ extensively talks about Yoga and further classifies it into four types. They are:
- Yoga for recreation
- Yoga for spiritual discipline
- Yoga for Patanjali Yoga sutra
- And Yoga for control of the body
The benefits of Yoga during QuarantineQuarantine periods can be monotonous, lazy, and boring with nowhere to go and nobody to meet. However, this period can be put to good use by learning effective yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation techniques, and more to keep ourselves in good shape, both physically and mentally. Practicing yoga daily not just boosts the physical vitality, it also contributes to positivity and peace in your thought processes. The benefits of doing yoga at home are:
- Helps improve respiratory functions in the body.
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Regulates blood flow
- Helps regulate adrenal function
- Lays a foundation for a healthy lifestyle
- Helps regulate food intake
- Makes you a happy and positive person
- Regulates blood sugar levels in the body.
- Increases your ability to focus
- Relaxes your systems
- Improves your motor functions
- Helps you cope with drug recovery and mitigates the chances of relapse
- Helps the body improve its digestion functions
- Improves sex-drive
- Helps in pain relief
- Improves the immune system of the body.
- Helps in muscle relaxation
- Prevents bones and cartilage from getting damaged easily.
Yoga in times of COVID-19In the current COVID scenario where the elderly and children are the most vulnerable population, the function of the immune system is critical for response to infectious disease. Vast evidence has identified stress as a cofactor in infectious disease vulnerability and outcome. The psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation warrant the role of Yoga in allaying their fears and anxiety. In the current scenario, yoga-based lifestyle changes can help in improving general immunity among the masses. It helps in preventing the growth of the virus among vulnerable populations consisting of the elderly, children, and those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, etc., and also to those patients who are in isolation or quarantine with or without mild symptoms. Yoga-based interventions and meditation practices are also indicated for the psychosocial care of COVID-19 patients who are in isolation and hospitalization.
Yoga-based Lifestyle Module RecommendationsIn the current times, it has become imperative to follow a yoga-based lifestyle module that will enhance the immune resilience in a healthy population from all age groups. This lifestyle module consists of three main components:
- Common Yoga Protocol (CYP)
- Yogic Diet
- Abstinence from substance abuse.
Common Yoga ProtocolThe 45-minute module of the Common Yoga Protocol of IDY was developed by a team of leading yoga experts. This module comprises safe practices that help to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of the population. To improve immune resilience, experts have recommended regular practice on empty stomach. The CYP also comprises 10 and 20-minute modules that are recommended for children, adults, youth, and the elderly population. These modules can be practiced twice a day (morning and evening). Apart from the CYP, Jalaneti, Sutraneti, and BhastrikaKriyas have also been recommended to be performed once or twice a week as well as Yoga Nidra for 20-30 minutes twice or thrice a week.
Yogic DietThe experts have also recommended diet restrictions for controlling comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc. along with yoga to promote both physical and mental health. The yogic diet consists of consuming wholesome and nutritious fresh home-cooked prepared traditionally along with plenty of fruits and vegetables (with restrictions of the individual’s disease condition). It has also been recommended to add traditional spices in moderate quantities. The yogic diet must be consumed at regular timings to improve its efficacy.
Abstinence from substance abuseThe most important aspect of the recommendations was abstinence from substance abuse including tobacco, alcohol, and other addictive drugs which could aggravate the comorbid conditions. The above yoga practices will promote the health of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems. Yoga during hospitalization without acute respiratory distress Meditative practices without breath awareness practice are recommended for a patient hospitalized without respiratory distress. The practice of deep relaxation of the body, slowing down of the breathing rate, and calming down of the mind using any of the practices from any school of Yoga for twenty minutes repeated once every 3-4 hours during the day time using audio instructions is recommended. Examples include mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, yoga Nidra, progressive relaxation, quick relaxation, deep relaxation, etc.
Preventive, rehabilitative and immunity-inducing Yoga Practices
- ShodhanaKriya (Yogic cleansing practices) Jalaneti, Sutra Neti: Lukewarm water should be used for cleansing. Jalneti must be followed by Kapalbhati to remove all water from the nasal passage. Neti helps to clean the sinuses and is beneficial in allergic conditions and reduces upper airway reactivity. Neti should be practiced once or twice weekly.
- Yogic SūkṣmaVyāyāmas / shithilikaranavyayamas/ Pawanamuktasana series (Joint movements): Move the joints slowly as far as possible with breath awareness. These movements include neck movements, shoulder rotation, trunk movement, knee movement, and ankle rotation. This practice should be avoided if you are suffering from acute joint pain or illness. Joint movements aid in increased blood circulation and reduce stiffness while enhancing flexibility and facilitating asana practices.
- Yogasana (Standing, Sitting, Prone & Supine, lying): Yogasanas should be done with breath awareness. Cardiac patients must be supervised by yoga experts practicing these yogasanas as these asanas include chest expansion. Beginners and the elderly should practice the simplified versions. Ushtrasana, UtthanaMandukasana, Tadasana, Trikonasana,Vakrasana,Bhujangasana, Sarala Matsyasanaetc. practices improve chest expansion and cardiopulmonary function. Patients with cardiac disorders, abdominal hernia, inflammation, ulcers, recent abdominal surgery & vertigo must avoid this. Hypertensive patients should bend with care. Avoid bending beyond the limits and do not overdo the lateral stretch.
- Kapalbhati 40-60 strokes per minute: Kapalbhati improves pulmonary functions and reduces secretions. This is a very useful preparatory practice for pranayama practice. This helps to cleanse frontal sinuses. Patients with hypertension, cardiac problems, respiratory distress, and slipped disc should avoid performing this. It is advisable to practice kapalbhati early in the morning on an empty stomach
- Breathing &Pranayama(Sectional breathing Nadishodhana Ujjayi Bhramari): Nadishodhan pranayama reduces the sympathetic activity and helps stimulate vagal (parasympathetic) activity thus decreasing stress and anxiety. Ujjayi increases the oxygen saturation in the body. Bhramari pranayama which is similar to humming increases Nasal Nitric Oxide (NO), which improves blood flow to the ciliary epithelium and also possesses anti-inflammatory action. While performing these breathing should be slow, steady, and controlled. It should not be forced or restricted in any way. In the beginning, start practicing with few repetitions and gradually increase the number of repetitions. If possible, maintain the ratio of 1:2 for inhalation and exhalation. Patients with any cardiac disorders should start with few repetitions and should gradually increase the number of repetitions. Avoid practicing retention or holding during the initial stages.
- Meditative practices Breath awareness, Dharana&Dhyana: Meditation helps reduce anxiety and stress by reducing the cortisol levels and enhancing the alpha brain wave. It makes the body stable and helps calm the mind. Meditation balances the functions of the neuroendocrine system thus enhancing the immune system. Beginners may start by playing soothing music in the background during meditation or observe their breath. It is advisable to practice meditation as long as you can.
Yogas as per CYPBelow are the various modules prepared by yoga experts as per the Common Yoga Protocol (CYP).
CYP 10 minute YogaStart the session with a prayer for 30 seconds. You can then proceed to perform some loosening movements with neck bending, shoulder movement, and trunk movement for 2 minutes. Proceed with the following yogasanas each for 1 minute:
- Tadasana (The palm tree posture for 1 minute)
- ArdhaChakrasana (The Half wheel posture for 1 minute)
- Saskasana (The Hare posture for 1 minute)
- Bhujangasana (The cobra posture for 1 minute)
- Pawanamuktasana (The wind releasing posture for 1 minute)
- Next, practice Pranayama with 2 rounds of Anulomviloma/NadishodhanaPranayanama( the alternate nostril breathing) lasting for 1 minute followed by meditation for 1 minute.
- The session should be concluded with Sankalpa/Shanti patha lasting for 30 seconds.
CYP 20-minute YogaStart the session with a prayer for 30 seconds followed by loosening movements such as neck bending, shoulder movement, and trunk movement for 2.5 minutes. Proceed with the following yogasanas:
- Tadasana (The palm tree posture ) for 1 minute
- PadaHastasana (The palm tree posture for 2 minutes)
- ArdhaChakrasana (the half-wheel posture for 2 minutes)
- Trikonasana (The triangle posture for 1 minute)
- Bhadrasana (THe firm/auspicious posture for 1 minute)
- ArdhaUshtrāsana (The Half camel posture for 1 minute)
- Sasakāsana (The Hare posture for 1 minute
- Vakrāsana (The Seated twist posture for 1 minute
- Bhujangāsana (The Cobra posture for 1 minute
- PawanaMuktāsana (The Wind releasing posture for 1 minute)
- This should be followed by 1 round of Kaphalabhati (The shining skull practice) 30 cycles each lasting for 1 minute
- 5 rounds of AnulomaViloma Pranayama (the alternate nostril breathing) lasting for 2 minutes and 3 rounds of Bhramari Pranayama (The bee sound breathing) for 1.5 minutes.
- Proceed to perform the Dhyana or meditation for 2 minutes. The session should be concluded with Sankalp/Shanti Path for 30 seconds.
CYP 45-minuteYogaStart the session with a prayer for 1 minute followed by loosening exercises such as neck bending for 2 minutes, shoulder movement for 2 minutes, trunk movement for 1 minute, and knee movement for 1 minute. Proceed to perform the following yogasanas in the following order.
- Tadāsana (The Palm tree posture for 1 minute)
- Vrikshāsana (The Tree posture for 2 minutes)
- Pada-hastāsana (The Hands to the feet posture for 1 minute)
- ArdhaChakrāsana (The Half wheel posture for 1 minute)
- Trikonāsana (The Triangle posture for 2 minutes)
- Bhadrāsana (The Firm/auspicious posture for 1 minute)
- Vajrāsana The Thunderbolt/diamond posture for 1 minute)
- ArdhaUshtrāsana (The Half camel posture for 1 minute)
- Ushtrāsana (The Camel posture for 1 minute)
- Sasakāsana (The Hare posture for 1 minute)
- UtthanaMandukāsana (The Stretched up-frog posture for 1 minute)
- Vakrāsana (The Seated twist posture for 2 minutes)
- Makarāsana (The Crocodile posture for 1 minute)
- Bhujangāsana (The Cobra posture for 1 minute)
- Shalabhāsana (The Locust posture for 1 minute)
- Setubandhāsana (The Bridge posture for 1 minute)
- Utthanapadāsana (The Raised leg posture for 30 seconds)
- ArdhaHalāsana (The Half plow posture for 30 seconds)
- PawanaMuktāsana (The Wind releasing posture for 2 minutes)
- Shavāsana (The Corpse posture for 2 minutes)
- Proceed then with Kaphalabhati (The Shining skull practice for 2 minutes)
- Next practice the AnulomaViloma Pranayama (The Alternate nostril breathing for 2 minutes)
- Ujjayi Pranayama (The Hissing breathing) (5 rounds for 2 minutes)
- (Bhramari Pranayama) (The Bee sound breathing) (5 rounds for 2 minutes)
- Meditate for 5 minutes and then conclude the session with SankalpaShanti patha for 1 minute.
Why is Yoga the ultimate healer?Yoga is not just about breathing in and breathing out. Many yoga enthusiasts, teachers, gurus, and practitioners have shared their stories demonstrating the physical, mental, and spiritual healing abilities of yoga. Here are a few stories to inspire you.
- Yoga helps in beating Lupus: A lady battling lupus for a long time turned to yoga after 18 years of suffering. Yoga has helped her immensely and she is now pain-free and gaining improved results in her lupus medication regimen.
- Yoga as an aid to the rehabilitation after cancer: A cancer patient based in New Jersey took to Yoga during the chemotherapy stage of her illness as she found herself to be very isolated and inactive. She has been practicing yoga daily which has helped her to regain mobility and also given her mental strength to fight her condition.
- Yoga helped deal with substance abuse: Yoga has helped a community member coping with drug addiction in channeling her energy towards positive thoughts and escape negative thought patterns that triggered her addiction. Yoga has helped to control her anxiety issues which led her to drug addiction in the first place.
Yoga Postures for BeginnersNow that you’re charged up to learn more about the ancient science of Yoga, let’s get you started with the basics. An asana is a posture used to channel energy to different parts of the body. As a beginner, it is essential to remember that these asanas could be tiring and the key is to not give up. These basic asanas will help you attain the level of flexibility and limberness to attempt advanced ones at a later stage. Here are ten basic yogasanas for beginners:
- Tadasana: Tadasana or the mountain pose is a simple yet effective asana that helps in relieving stress, sciatica, helps improve posture, and helps in controlling inhalations and exhalations.
- Vrikshasana: Vrikshasana or tree pose is one of the most well-known poses in the world of yoga. The posture benefits the legs & abdomen and regulates breathing along with making your mind focussed. By practising this asana, your hips loosen up, and your knees become stronger along with your tendons and ligaments in the foot. This posture also helps to improve your neuromuscular coordination.
- AdhoMukhoSvanasana: Also known as the dog pose, this posture helps in rejuvenating the body, helps stretch the muscles in shoulders, forearms & hands, helps regulate regular menstrual cycles, helps fight mild depression, and stress, strengthens the bones and prevents osteoporosis. This asana also helps in improving the metabolic functions, respiratory functions, and blood pressure in the body.
- Trikonasana: Also known as the triangle pose, this posture is practiced to stimulate and regulate blood pressure in the body. It helps loosen the hips, the groin joint, and back. This asana also increases flexibility in the hips, arms, back, legs, and shins cures indigestion, and regulates blood pressure, among others.
- Kursiasana: Also known as the chair pose, this posture strengthens the entire body. Its effects are felt especially in the shoulders, thighs, and calves. This asana is also practiced to develop flexibility in muscles, joints, and ligaments.
- Naukasana: Naukasana or the boat pose focuses on the core of the body, this posture helps in reducing belly fat, improves digestion, reduces gastrointestinal trouble, regulates blood sugar levels, and helps in regulating blood flow in the body.
- Bhujangasana: Known as the snake pose, this asana is known to increase flexibility in the spine and reduce stress on the spinal cord. Studies show that practicing this posture removes impure blood from the back and helps in regulating the blood flow from the lower regions of the body. It also helps strengthen and tone muscles in the legs, abs, lower back, and lumbar region.
- Paschimottanasana: Also known as the Seated forward bend, the posture helps in regulating blood flow in the body. In this posture, the blood flow is regulated to the head, thereby increasing the efficiency of the eyes, helping fight off mild anxiety and depression. This posture also helps strengthen the legs and lumbar muscles.
- Sukhasana: Sukhasana or the easy pose is the basic framework over which experienced people perform more complex and difficult asanas. This asana helps strengthen muscles, improve posture, improve physical and mental balance, and helps in reducing anxiety. Like many other asanas, this posture also helps in regulating the flow of blood, helps digestion, stretches the lumbar muscles, and improves flexibility in the legs, hips, and shoulders.
- Shavasana: Also known as the corpse pose, the benefits of practicing this yoga asana (Yogasan) is to help the body destress and alleviate any stress that is caused to the body in the process of normal functioning. Shavasana is a practice recommended when one has to destress, deal with mental/ physical pressure or anxiety, and deal with blood pressure problems, muscle relaxation, and fatigue.
Yoga for Weight LossThere are different types of yoga that people can choose from as an effective means to lose weight. Depending on the nature of the practice, there are different yogasanas that one can practice to burn fat. The most prominent yogasanas are:
- ParipurnaNavasana: Also known as the boat pose, this posture helps flex the muscles in the hips, lower back, abdomen, and abductor muscles. The ParipurnaNavasana helps improve the core function and adductor muscles. This pose helps with anxiety and blood flow.
- UtthitaParsvakonasana: This is an extended side angle that helps different parts of the body stretch. It also helps in strengthening the quadriceps, biceps, and massage muscles in the lower back, especially in the lumbar regions. This asana also has a few therapeutic functions along with developing endurance in the body.
- ChaturangaDandasana: ChaturangaDandasana also known as the four-limbed-staff-pose is very similar to the ‘Plank’. This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in the legs, shoulders, arms, and core muscles. It also helps tone the muscles in the anterior deltoids and major and minor pectorals.
- Marichyasana: The Marichyasana is named after the sage Rishi Marichi, the first from 800 BC. This is a complex exercise that helps internal organs moderate blood and hormonal functions. The therapeutic benefits of this asana are seen in the treatment of constipation and obesity, among others.
- Paschimottanasana: The seated bend is recommended to both beginners and experienced people. This exercise helps tone the muscles along with burning fat in the body.
Yoga for Diabetes & Lifestyle ailmentsWhile yoga is not a treatment for diabetes, it can help to regulate hormones and reduce obesity. Yogasana postures such askapal bhati and pranayama have helped patients suffering from lifestyle ailment manage them to some extent. People suffering from Type 2 diabetes are advised to practice the above postures for 20-30 mutes on an empty stomach. Exercise in the form of yoga helps the body absorb excess blood sugar that is released into the bloodstream.
Yoga for Healthy HeartYoga contributes significantly to maintaining a healthy heart. These exercises contribute to regulating blood flow and maintaining the structural integrity of the arteries by reducing the cholesterol build-up in the body. There are a variety of asanas that one can start practicing to have a healthy heart. They are:
- Tadasana ( Mountain Pose)
- Vrikshasana ( Tree pose)
- UtthitaHastapadasana (Extended hands and feet pose)
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
- Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat pose)
- AdhoMukhaShavasana (Downward facing dog pose)
- ParipurnaNavasana (Boat Pose)
- UtthitaTrikonasana (Extended triangle pose)
- PinchaMayurasana (Feathered Peacock Pose)
- AdhoMukhaVrksasana (High stand)
- Virasana (Hero Pose)
- Low lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Yoga for lower back painLower back pain can be painful for people, and the condition worsens when we experience acute pain in the lower lumbar muscles. Yogasanasaids as a relaxant in the paraspinal muscles, thereby relieving the patient from stress and pain. Practicing the following asanas can help with lower back pain:
- Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana)
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Bridge pose
- Ustrasana ( Camel Pose)
- marjaryasana ( Cat Pose)
- Bitilasana ( Cow Pose)
- Dolphin Pose
- AdhoMukhaSavasana (Downward facing dog)
- Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
- UtthitaParsvakonasana (Extended side angle pose)
- Utthitatrikonasana ( Extended triangle pose)
- Agnistambhasana (Firelog pose)
- Fish Pose (matsyasana)
- Half Lord of the Fish pose ( Ardhamatsyasana)
Yoga for Facial Muscles and slowing agingPracticing yoga has shown proven results in fighting against aging. The study states that performing Surya Namaskar yoga, Nidra yoga, Pranayama, headstand pose, corpse pose, and other asanas have helped to slow the aging process and provide younger-looking skin by strengthening and toning the facial muscles. Certain asanas can have promising results in as little as 20 weeks.
Deep breathing exercises and meditationDeep breathing: Deep breathing exercises help people with digestion, relieve pain, helps regulate the flow of lymph nodes, improves immunity, help improve the immunity levels in the body, and regulates posture. Ujjayi is a type of yoga technique that extensively speaks about the technique of regulating inhalation and exhalation from the diaphragm. The name Ujjayi is derived from the term ‘ocean birth’. The benefits of Deep breathing are:
- Helps deal with stress and anxiety.
- Regulates blood pressure.
- Help feel energetic.
- Helps in easy digestion.
- Increases pulmonary functions.
- It helps fight addictions
- Makes you focus more attentively
- Increases the span of attention
- Helps you control anxiety and other phobias and makes you aware of yourself and your surroundings
- Chakra meditation
- Sleep meditation
- Yoga meditation
Incorporating Yoga into a holistic lifestyleYoga, unlike other forms of modern exercise or workout, is not very strenuous and does not demand a lot of heavy lifting. It can be practiced anywhere with little to minimum dependencies on other equipment. However, to incorporate yoga into a holistic lifestyle, you will have to stay committed to it. Few main ways to incorporate yoga into your daily routine are:
- Find the pulse that matches you: You must follow discipline when getting into the world of Yoga. Decide on a specific time and duration every day and ensure that those sessions are not missed. Once you commit and make a schedule, it becomes easier for you to follow it for long durations till it eventually becomes your habit.
- Find a place to do it: A yoga mat is not mandatory. You can practice the tree pose while talking on the phone at home or practice stretching after washing the dishes or sweeping the floor, try regulating your breath when you are watching TV or Mobile or when you are waiting for the milk to get warmed up.
- Try to include it in your work schedule: You spend close to 60 hours a week at work. This time can be utilized at work by incorporating minor asanas which you can do while sitting on your chair. The next time you are in office, try the Cat and Cow asana or, the seated twist or, shoulder stretch, or stretching your hips or regulate your breath with anulomvilom pranayama.