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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 143-146

Yoga: A nonpharmacological approach against current pandemic of Coronavirus Disease-19

Department of Kriya Sharir (Physiology), Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, Delhi, India

Date of Submission15-Aug-2020
Date of Decision26-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance28-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication28-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Ankur Kumar Tanwar
Department of Kriya Sharir (Physiology), Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joa.joa_138_20

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Introduction: In this current era of the pandemic, when the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly spread across the world, the population at a large scale suffered from fear, worry, and certain concern regarding himself/herself as well as for their families especially adults and children. A significant level of stress also developed in health care providers. Many people all over the world are suffering from loneliness, anxiety, and disturbed mental health issues during lockdown, quarantines, and isolation. Mental health is one of the important factors for overall health. No vaccination or treatment available for COVID-19 till today. The only approach is the preventive and promotive approach. Psychological issues also hamper our physical health and level of immunity. Objective: In this study, an attempt has been made to critically review the role of yoga against the current pandemic. Data Source and Review Methods: References are searched from various authoritative texts and worldwide accepted scientific databases concerning the effect of yoga in the different body systems, immune system as well as on mental health. Result: The psychophysical approach which helps in reducing the mental issue maintains mental health and reduces stress as well as boosts our immunity against communicable diseases like COVID-19 is Yoga. Discussion: Yoga is cost-effective, may be practiced as a self-care treatment against physical and mental health issues, enhance self-efficacy and self-confidence. Yoga may be effective as a supportive adjunct in some medical conditions. Conclusion: This review summarizes the effects of yoga interventions against the current pandemic as well as helps to understand the preventive and health promotive aspect of yoga on various components of mental and physical health.

Keywords: Mental health, pandemic, stress, Yoga

How to cite this article:
Tanwar AK, Rajan S. Yoga: A nonpharmacological approach against current pandemic of Coronavirus Disease-19. J Ayurveda 2020;14:143-6

How to cite this URL:
Tanwar AK, Rajan S. Yoga: A nonpharmacological approach against current pandemic of Coronavirus Disease-19. J Ayurveda [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 19];14:143-6. Available from: http://www.journayu.in/text.asp?2020/14/4/143/304890

  Introduction Top

Since its origin in December 2019 in the Hubei province of China, the novel coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) is spreading at a high rate of transmission both locally and internationally.[1],[2] Within months, the disease caused by the coronavirus was considered a public health emergency by the World Health Organization and was declared a pandemic by March 2020.[3] Now, this infectious disease spreads in 216 countries throughout the world, with approximately 2.04 crore infectious cases and more than 7.43 lakh death worldwide.[4]

WHO and public health authorities across the world are working to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. However, this time of crisis is generating a vicious cycle of stress throughout the population. Peoples are experiencing fear, worry, and stress concerning the COVID-19 pandemic because this pandemic is a real threat to anyone's life.

Along with the fear of infecting with coronavirus in a pandemic, people are suffering from new stress called lockdown stress in support of lockdown and other measures or efforts by the health authority to slow down the spread and as preventive aspect. Working from home, unemployment issues, homeschooling, and less contact with family members and love ones also hamper people's mental health.

The main psychological impact of COVID-19 is an increased level of stress and anxiety.[5] Quarantine and isolation affect people's behaviors and activities.[6] Level of loneliness, depression, addiction, suicidal behaviors, and temper enhanced during the pandemic.

People need proper psychiatric treatment and intervention which enhances their mental health and immunity too. Every disorder has both physical and mental aspects, also called to harm mental health. The patient suffered from COVID 19 also suffered from a certain level of stress due to isolation and fear of death. This stress starts a vicious cycle and decreases immunity which again hampers physical health and increases the viral load and then enhances the severity of the disease.

  How to Combat Psychological Issues during a Pandemic? Top

Yoga, as a therapeutic intervention, has given the advantage to the various psychophysiological benefits. Yoga is the therapeutic approach that includes antayoga as well as bahiryoga. Bahiryoga in the form of asana (physical exercise) and pranayama (breathing exercise) enhances the physical health by increasing the patient's physical flexibility, coordination, and strength, while antayoga in a form of meditation may calm the mind and enhances the sattva guna to develop greater awareness and diminish anxiety[7] and overall enhances the quality of life. Yoga also reduces stress, blood pressure, cause improvements in resilience, mood, and metabolic regulation.[8]

The development of yoga today is quite fast is spreading all over the world. The international day of yoga is celebrated every year on 21 June, which showed the importance of yoga in the current era of disease. The number of people who do yoga regularly in the world is more than 50 million people worldwide and keeps on increasing every day. It is a self-care intervention and easy to practice and having wonderful effects on the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of health. Yoga is a spiritual therapy originated in India because it integrates the mind, body, and soul.[9] The technique of yoga consists of Yama and Nyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. All these techniques cause the integration of a holistic approach to health.

  Effect of Yoga on Different Body Systems Top

  • Yoga effects on the hypo-pituitary–pancreatic axis and sympathetic nervous system.[10]
  • Pranayama showed a significant effect on pulmonary functions in patients of asthma and enhances the quality of life.[11]
  • Yoga may increase the utilization and metabolism of glucose in peripheral tissues, liver, and adipose tissues.[12],[13] Yoga can lead to an improvement in insulin sensitivity and some asana by direct stimulation of the pancreas can rejuvenate its capacity to produce insulin.[14] The practice of yoga leads to an improved neuroendocrine axis.
  • Yoga can lead to improved lipid levels.[15],[16]
  • Yoga improves strength and musculoskeletal coordination.[17] It involves the coordinated action of muscles which brings increased steadiness, strength, stamina, flexibility, endurance, anaerobic power, and better neuromuscular coordination.
  • Yoga asana strengthens the bones and prevents age-related weakening, thus helping in the prevention of osteoporosis.[18]
  • Yoga reported a reduction in urinary excretion of adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, cortisol, and aldosterone, thus showed an effect on stress hormones and reduced stress significantly.[19]
  • Yoga decreases the serum testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels indicating optimal changes in reproductive hormones.[20]
  • Yoga practiced by pregnant women increased birth weight and low chance of preterm labor.[21]
  • Studies showed that meditation can increase plasma melatonin levels resulting which are responsible for an improved sense of well-being as well as health-promoting effects.[22]
  • Yoga significantly decreased oxygen consumption, heart rate, and diastolic blood pressure.[23],[24] It is effective in the treatment of hypertension.[25]

  Effect of Yoga on the Immune System Top

The study conducted by Gede Juanamasta and Ketut Andika Priastana showed that the longer or more frequent the duration and intensity of yoga are done will enhance the immunity system gradually.[26] Yoga gives a good effect on the number of red and white blood cells. Previous studies conducted showed that yoga practicing for 3 weeks decreased the level of neutrophils and platelets.[27],[28],[29],[30] The level of lymphocytes increased after yoga practicing showed that yoga improves immunity. Research also showed yoga practicing improved the level of hemoglobin and antioxidant superoxide dismutase.[27] The minimum intensity and duration of yoga required for improving immunity are at least once every day for 4 weeks.

  Effect of Yoga on Mental Health Top

A large number of studies show that yoga-practicing can significantly decrease basal anxiety scores. A study conducted by Khalsa et al. showed that 2 months of yoga and meditation techniques can reduce performance anxiety and reduced mood disturbance in young professional musicians.[31] Javnbakht et al. reported that participation in a 2-month yoga program leads to a significant reduction in perceived levels of anxiety in women who suffered from anxiety disorders.[32] Kozasa et al. reported a significant reduction in scores on anxiety, depression, and tension after a month practice of yoga program.[33] The previous study showed that study participants who participated in a 5-week yoga course demonstrated significant decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression and trait anxiety.[34] Yoga practice resulted in significant improvements in perceived stress, state and trait anxiety, subjective well-being, and vigor, and decrease in salivary cortisol, fatigue, and depression. So overall, the Yoga practice also showed marked improvement in the quality of life, a sense of well being, relaxation, improved level of concentration, enhance self-confidence, improved efficiency, and efficacy, maintenance of the good relationship, increased attentiveness, and lowered irritability levels. All previous studies suggest that even short-term yoga programs can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety in individuals.[35] Yoga especially reduced stress hormones like serum cortisol and DHEA.[36]

Yoga practicing also helps us to focus on the problem, process the required information, arrive at the logical conclusion, make decisions, and then execute the task.

  Conclusion Top

Yoga is a holistic practice that strengthens our body physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a result, the body's defense mechanism against pathogens like bacteria and viruses also improves through Yoga. Asana (physical exercise) works on all body systems such as the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, and thyroid system and improves their functions. All systems when function properly and the integration of all health systems result in improved immunity. As this pandemic hampers the respiratory system, pranayama (breathing exercise) improves the lung capacity and pulmonary functions, improves oxygen supply to all cells and tissues, helps to increases breathing time, and finally increases immunity and gives longevity to life.

Yoga is a nonpharmacological approach against various communicable and noncommunicable diseases. It is a body-mind medicine and preventive, promotive, and therapeutic approach. It reduces stress levels through antayoga as well as maintains autonomic response against stress.

This review summarized that Yoga has an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It can be used as therapeutic and preventive against COVID-19 by maintaining physical and mental health. It is a holistic approach against any pandemic.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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