Meditation and Yoga Practices as Potential Adjunctive Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and COVID-19: A Brief Overview of Key Subjects
This was published Monday this week, 22 June. The authors acknowledge “further rigorous scientific investigation.” is needed, but in the midst of a global pandemic – and remember many parts of the world are now where the UK was two months ago – it’s an initial, and urgent, review of the possibilities for Yoga and Meditation in treating Coronavirus.
This is in the context of Integrative Medicine, which combines the knowledge of Medical Professionals such as Doctors, Surgeons, Pharmacists, etc, with the skills of Professionals in Complementary and Alternative Health, including therapeutically trained yoga teachers.
The areas of hypothesised action are those where yoga is known to have an effect, eg reducing inflammation and promoting Vagal tone and it’s associated downstream actions.
Of course, other CAMs and Mind Body disciplines may have a role to play here, eg Accupuncture, Tai-Chi, however I’m reflecting on this study which looks at Yoga and Meditation.
It’s encouraging that yoga may help in the current pandemic, in numerous ways – resonance, recovery, and emotional well-being during a time of great unsettling.
So what are the possible ways Yoga and related practices, including Meditation (I’ll just refer to Yoga below), could help? Well briefly:
- One of the key features of the Coronavirus is it creates inflammation, the so called “Cytokine storm”. Inflammation is a natural adaptive response to injury, but it can get out of control, as anyone who has rolled their ankle and had it swell up will attest. The Coronavirus initiates a severe, and inappropriate internal inflammation response, which causes tissue damage. We know that Yoga practices can help reduce inflammation, and hence for people being treated for Coronavirus outside of hospital settings, Yoga can potentially reduce the impact of the virus.
- Yoga helps promote a healthy Vagus nerve, so called “Vagal Tone” – I won’t go into the workings of the Autonomic Nervousness System here, but suffice to say good Vagal tone creates many downstream benefits notably better resilience, physical and pscho-emotional. Physical resilience will include a stronger immune system, which may reduce the risk of infection and thus help counter the spread of Coronavirus. Psycho-Emotional resilience improves our health in general, and that in turn is likely to improve immune systems and give us a better outcome if we are unfortunate enough to catch the virus; modern understandings of disease look at a so called “BioPsychoSocial” model, which recognises health is more than simply biological – our psychological and social perspectives contribute to health.
- Yoga can improve our Psycho-Emotional well being, which helps us cope with the changes we’ve all seen in our daily life, maybe helping us to tolerate being separated from loved ones, re-enforce social distancing rules, and as discussed above improving our resilience and well-being.
A couple of points here.
First, don’t underestimate the benefit of Psycho-Emotional well-being on our physical health. There is much good quality evidence to support Psycho-Emotional well-being correlates with better health and disease outcomes.
Secondly, these are adjunct therapies, supporting the work of Hospitals and doctors. If you think you have Cornonavirus, don’t ring your Yoga Teacher. Call 111.