The degree of infection in Covid-19 varies from person to person – some will have no symptoms at all, others may experience mild to moderate discomfort, and some may have been hospitalised. Therefore, everyone’s recovery will also look different. However, everyone would like to get back to their lifestyle as soon as possible, and Yoga can certainly help you in this journey. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you start returning to your routine.
Check if you are you ready to resume
Before even moving forward, you must get clearance from your doctor to start physical activities. Generally, physical exercise is not recommended in the following scenarios.
- If you had a fever in the last two days
- You have shortness of breath
- Pulse oximeter reading is below 92%
- Heart rate is over 105
- Breathing rate is over 24
- BP is lower compared to your normal
- You’re dizzy or lightheaded
Practice Breathing Exercises to aid Covid-19 recovery
When you’re trying to come back to your yoga practice or exercises after severe Covid-19, the number one thing to keep in mind is that you should not get breathless.
After a severe lung infection, it is crucial to strengthen the muscles that help you breathe, primarily the diaphragm. An excellent way to do that is through deep Diaphragmatic breathing as it helps opens up the lungs, creates more space that reduces shortness of breath. This also results in improved exercise capacity. When recovering, you can start with 5 mins of diaphragmatic breathing (also called deep belly breathing) and practice it three times a day – before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For a list of breathing exercises for Covid-19 recovery you can watch this video:
You can also explore my free 21-days of Pranayama Program which will help you get into a regular breathing practice.
Introduce walking for Covid-19 recovery
Once you feel ready, you can introduce walking into your routine – walking is considered one of the best recovery exercises for those hospitalised due to Covid-19. It’s essential not to overexert; that’s why take shorter walks but more frequently instead of doing it all in one go.
Weill Cornell Medicine suggests the following routine for walking during recovery:
- Week 1: 5 mins, five times per day
- Week 2: 10 mins, three times per day
- Week 3: 15 mins, two times per day
Remember, you should not get breathless or feel any discomfort in the chest during any activity.
Gradually introduce Yoga (or exercise)
Once you’re ready to start exercising or practicing Yoga, you can start introducing them into your routine. This may be between 2-3 weeks of your discharge, depending on how severe your infection was. As always, it’s best to consult your physician.
A rough starting point is to begin your practices at 50% of your original capacity before you got Covid-19. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends the 50/30/20/10 rule. This means you would reduce your practice intensity by 50% in the first week, by 30% in the second week, and so on till you resume your usual capacity in the 5th week. You can also translate this to Yoga – so if you used to do 10 Sun Salutations, start with 5. If you used to hold your posture for ten breaths, hold it for five breaths instead in the first week and so on.
Here’s a restorative practice for Covid-19 recovery
You can also pace your practice. This means, instead of doing one intense yoga session during the day, you can do smaller sessions multiple times. This way, you get to pace yourself instead of overstraining the body. Current protocol states that your pulse oximeter should not drop below 88%-90% during your practice. Which means the intensity of exertion would be light to slightly hard.
Last but not the least, have patience and be kind to yourself. Do not get disheartened if you get tired quickly or cannot practice at the same capacity as before. It’s all a part of the process, and it just means that the body needs a little more time. Allow the healing to happen naturally, and in the meantime, keep checking in with yourself. With time you will undoubtedly regain your strength and stamina back. The important thing is that you should not rush the process or compare your journey or experience of Covid-19 with anyone else. Instead, how you feel should be the main criteria to decide how much activity you should do.
Introducing Yoganama TV
If you are looking to build your home yoga practice then you can also check Yoganama TV. Here you will find a variety of yoga videos across Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative styles of Yoga. There are special programs like Yoga for Low Energy, Yoga for Anxiety, Hatha Yoga Foundations and so on. Go ahead and explore the catalog, I am sure you will find something to your liking.