Recovering from Covid-19 – Breathing Issue

Inter-dependence

Ever since I got tested positive for Covid-19, myself & my family have gone through Google, Instagram, Facebook etc. to make me recover faster from this illness. I came across information on what to eat, on the medication, how to train my sense of taste & smell, etc. But I did not come across anything which mentioned what to do when you face discomfort while breathing. 

My major issue during illness has been congestion & discomfort breathing. I was recommended by the doctor to sleep in a prone position (on the belly), do simple breathing exercises, taking maximum rest & talking only when it’s important or urgent.

I have had different phases during this illness. Initially – I had high fever (1 day) & body pain & fatigue, then I lost my sense of smell & taste, then came chest pain where I felt like there was a heavy weight on my chest; my ribs, sternum felt sore & any sudden movement or even breathing would hurt. Through all these symptoms what was constant was dry cough & congestion. 

I was allowed home isolation by the doctor because my symptoms were not severe. KINDLY consult the doctor before following anything. 

Breathing exercises which are helping me recover: –

 

EXERCISE

HOW TO DO &

WHEN TO DO

NO. OF TIMES BODY POSITION
1:4 Inhale fast & deep, exhale out slowly – you can increase the ratio as per your comfort. Morning & evening

12 breaths

2-3 sets

Supine or seated position.

 

6:6:6

Inhale for 6 counts, hold the breath for 6 counts, exhale for 6 counts.

 

You can increase/decrease the count depending on your comfort. Keep it EQUAL.

 

Morning & evening.

 

FOR COVID-19 – DO THIS ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.

12 rounds

2-3 sets

Supine or seated position.
4:7:8

Inhale for 4 counts, hold the breath for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts

 

This is great for anxiety & when you have difficulty sleeping at night.

 

Evening or before bedtime.

 

FOR COVID-19 – DO THIS ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.

12 rounds

1-2 sets

Supine position.

Nadi Shudhi

/Alternate Nostril breathing

 

1:2:4

Adapt Nasika Mudra 

Close right nostril, inhale fast & deep through left nostril for 1 count, close both nostrils hold for 2 counts & exhale through the right nostril for 4 counts. Inhale through right, close both nostrils to hold the breath & exhale through the left. This is one round.

Every inhalation through the left nostril is a new round.

 

FOR COVID-19 – DO THIS ONLY IF YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.

12 rounds

 

1-2 times

Seated positon.

 

Keep the spine upright, use chair or wall for support.

Blowing-the-candle-breath.

Inhale as if you are smelling a flower & exhale through the mouth as if you are blowing a candle at the end of the room.

 

It can make you feel lightheaded, take a break & resume.

12 rounds

 

1-2 sets

Supine or seated position.

 

  • Do them on an empty stomach or with a gap of 3 hours after the main meal.
  • When you do these breathing exercises please ensure that you are not straining your face, neck, shoulders or any body part, or making unnecessary breathing sounds, or straining the throat. Our body needs to be in a relaxed state while doing breathing techniques.
  • If you are new to these, start doing the breathing exercises in Supine position (except Nadi Shudhi).

It was scary especially on days when I had difficulty breathing, no matter which position I was in; seated, lying down, sideways, prone even standing – it was difficult to breathe. On days like these, I chose a position I could breathe better and stayed in it as still as possible.

Apart from breathing exercises, I did hot compression on my chest for 10-15 minutes with a hot water bag (when my chest is hurting less). On days when my chest hurts a lot, I apply a mild ointment or Vicks all over. I’m taking steam every day with either one of these – eucalyptus oil or breath-easy capsules or Vicks – 1-2 times a day.

Initially, my congestion was horrible, it used to get really dry in my nasal passage & throat. On days like these I do Jala Neti (I DO NOT recommend doing this if you have not learnt from a certified Yoga Instructor), ideally you are not supposed to do it if you have blocked nasal passage but personally, it helped clear the congestion. Sometimes I do it twice a day too (early morning & afternoon) depending on congestion & breathing issue. As an alternative for Jala Neti Kriya, I use Otrivin Oxy before sleep to clear the nasal passage.

On the first couple of days in isolation, I got thoughts like this would suffocate or what if I couldn’t wake up in the morning or worry about my mother’s safety – it would cause a lot of anxiety. I would share these thoughts to my best friend which helped get a reality check, this made me calm at times. Always stay in communication with someone who will uplift you.

To keep me mentally positive & strong – I am doing Yog Nidra in the afternoons where I listen to Mrutyunjaya Mantra (chant it mentally), meditations focused on healing, anxiety, etc. You can find 20-60min videos on YouTube for sleep meditation. You can also sit & meditate as an alternative (only if you have the energy to sit for long).

Another thing which has helped me to be calm during discomfort in breathing. In times like these divert your minds attention to other senses;

  1. Touch – your clothes, what you are lying on, your skin etc.
  2. Visual – Look the details on any object, ceiling, spot bright colours around you, etc.
  3. Hearing – Listen to your fav. songs, Mantras, calming music, Tibetan singing bowls, etc.

Whatever helps you in this time of struggle, don’t get dragged down by fear. It’s easier said than done but it is you who have to help your body fight this intruder and your thoughts & attitude are going to play a major role.

For those who have not contracted Covid-19, even they can start with these breathing practices, they will help support your respiratory health.

 

Featured Author

Anupama Udawant

This article is contributed by Anupama Udawant, Certified Yoga Teacher in Vinyasa Yoga & Ashtanga Yoga

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