Can daily pranayama help in fight against Covid? Yes, finds this study

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By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A first-of-its-kind survey has found that a 28-day pranayama module helped frontline and healthcare workers prevent Covid-19, and only one person in the group, a hospital caretaker, who was not regular, tested positive.

The study titled Efficacy of pranayama in preventing Covid-19 in exposed healthcare professionals: A quasi-randomized clinical trial said that since immunity plays an important role in Covid-19 infection, non-pharmacological interventions have an immune-modulatory effect and could serve as a preventive as well as a therapeutic measure.

The findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM), an internationally circulated open access publication of the World Ayurveda Foundation and Trans-Disciplinary University, Bengaluru, said pranayama — the yogic practice of control of breathing — is known to improve immune function and reduce infection.

The survey was conducted among the frontline and healthcare workers who were exposed daily to the infection.

It was conducted at five different Covid-19 hospitals in India dedicated to Covid patients, and 280 healthcare workers were recruited, of whom 250 completed the study.

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As the study was done during the first wave of the Covid-19, the yoga sessions — 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening — were conducted under the online supervision of yoga instructors.

Resident doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, hospital staff and even receptionists were part of this survey.

Two sets of groups were formed – one with 123 healthcare workers, who underwent the specially designed twice-daily 28-day pranayama modules, and the second set with 127 members who went through their daily routine without practising pranayama.

At the end of the 28 days, it was found that only one person, a hospital caretaker, who was not regular for the pranayama sessions, tested positive for Covid-19 but showed mild symptoms and was asymptomatic. In the second set, nine people contracted Covid-19.

“The selected combination of pranayama modules makes it a comprehensive intervention to reduce the possibility of contracting Covid-19 infection,” Dr Ishwar V Basavaraddi, one of the study’s authors, told The New Indian Express.

Basavaraddi, the director of the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, an autonomous organisation under the Ayush ministry, said the present study suggests that the pranayama modules can be promoted among all sections of the population to prevent Covid-19 as immunity plays an important role.

He said yoga not only helps in improving lung capacity but also cardio-respiratory and mental activity.

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