A few days back we had offered yogic methods that aid in the management of cardiac diseases. Now through this article we hope to offer insights on the efficient management of acute coryza, chronic bronchitis and eosinophilia – all through Yoga. Yes, with higher chances of people getting afflicted to various conditions, Yoga seems to be a beneficial way to take care of these diseases.
Medical science has not yet devised a cure for the common cold or flu and so it seems to rely on symptomatic relief, with decongestant, anti-histaminic and appropriate antibiotics in order to prevent complicated secondary bacterial infection. However, a cold is a disorder which could definitely be prevented by natural means when the pranic energy or vital resistance of the body is high and the physiological functions are in balance.
Overeating, especially junk foods often worsen a cold. On the other hand, a short fast is often sufficient to avert an imminent cold. At the first sign of a cold or sore throat, which signifies a slight pranic imbalance, one should skip a meal, practice Neti and kunjal kriya, and some energizing pranayama. Then consume a cup of hot tea with heating spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon and rest quietly, perhaps performing mouna (silence) in order to minimize the wastage of energy which is caused by talking. Mauna helps faster curing of cold as it saves energy and gives rest to the upper respiratory system. One should also remember that cold is very contagious during the early stages, especially when sneezing is prominent. Voluntary isolation and rest by the sufferer during this period is an important step.
Eating heavy meals or consuming food at more frequent intervals takes up more prana for digestion and thereby depleting prana. By proceeding with normal activities without any consideration for the impending cold beyond may be taking aspirin, one will almost certainly succumb by the next day to a full-blown cold. It may continue unabated for five days or more.
Many cases of cold are so mild; however, that the sufferer continues to go about his daily works. In this case, kunjal daily and Neti once, twice or even thrice daily should remove stuffiness, cough and discomfort. Asana and pranayama should be minimized but meditation can be continued. However, if fever and constitutional disturbances occur, one should immediately go off to bed, taking six or more glasses of hot water with lemon juice during the day. Kunjal and Neti should not be performed if fever is present. The patient’s yoga sadhana should definitely be confined to yoga nidra practice and antar mouna only.
A light natural diet with plenty of fruit is advised, and for weakened patients, a liquid diet is best. Hot soup prepared from seasonal vegetables, such as carrot, spinach and tomato, can be prepared, together with coriander leaves, chili and ginger. Foods rich in vitamins A and C are useful.
Steam inhalation for ten minutes is advised in cases of nasal congestion and obstruction. This cleans the head and eases the breathing. In cases of cough with sore and inflamed throat, gargling with warm saline water is useful.
Smoking is irritative to the nasal mucosa and should be discontinued.
Regular practice of surya namaskara to the capacity builds up resistance to coughs and colds.
Bronchitis and Eosinophilia
Yoga exercises have proved to be very effective in all respiratory diseases, especially chronic bronchitis. Pranayama exercise helps in improving power and capacity of lung by increasing dead space in lungs. Pranayama also increases prana shakti, thereby increasing the resistance power and normalizing the raised eosinophils. This happens by increasing body threshold for sensitivity to different antigens which are responsible for raised eosinophils / ESR.
During an acute phase it’s not possible to do asana, so hot spices and hot water fomentation and fasting on warm water is advisable. Once the acute phase is under control then gradually asana should be practiced.
1. Asana: Commence with the pawanmuktasana. For elderly patients it is advisable to start with makarasana as described later. While the rest of the group should start asana in the following sequence:
Shakti bandha series, surya namaskara, vajrasana, shashankasana, shashank bhujangasana, ushtrasana, marjari-asana, supta vajrasana, pada hastasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana, kandharasana, chakrasana, paschimottanasana, ardha matsyendrasana, baddha padmasana, sarvangasana, halasana and matsyasana.
Simhagarjanasana is especially recommended. Standing and bending asanas including trikonasana, hasta utthanasana, dwi konasana, lolasana will work to strengthen the chest.
Technique of Simhasana –
Sit in vajrasana with the knees about 45 cms apart. The toes of both feet should remain in contact with each other. Lean forward and place the palms of the hands on the floor between the knees, with the fingers pointing towards the body. Straighten the arms fully and arch the back, giving the maximum stretch to the front of neck. Rest the body on the straight arms. Tilt the head back so that there is comfortable amount of tension in the neck. Close the eyes and focus the inner gaze at the eyebrow centre, performing Shambhavi mudra. The eyes may also be kept open, in which case gaze at a point on the ceiling. The mouth should be closed. Relax the whole body and mind. Repeat it twice.
Technique of Pada hastasana –
Stand erect with very little space in between feet. Now bend forward until fingers or palms of the hands touch the floor on either side of the feet. Try to touch the knees with the forehead. Do not strain. Keep the knees straight. Exhale while bending down and try to contract the abdomen in the final position to expel the maximum amount of air from the lungs.
Technique of Dhanurasana –
Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body. Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Grasp the ankles with hands. Keep the knees and thighs firmly on the ground and the arms straight throughout the practice. Place the chin on the floor. This is the starting position. Tense the legs and try to push the feet backwards while the head and chest as high as possible from the floor. Use the backwards movement of the legs to assist the raising of the body, allowing the back muscles to remain passive. In the final position the head is tilted back. Hold the final position for as long as it is comfortable. Slowly lower the chest and head to the ground by releasing the legs. Relax in the prone position until the respiration returns to normal. This is one round. Do such 5 rounds.
Technique of Kandharasana –
Lie flat on the back. Bend the knees, placing the soles of the feet flat on the floor with the heels touching the buttocks. The feet and knees may be hip width apart. Grasp the ankles with the hands. This is the starting position. Raise the buttocks and arch the back upwards. Sadhaka should raise navel and chest portion to maximum, while doing so one should not move hands, shoulders, and feet so as to maintain stability of joints. Keep the feet flat on the floor. Now this is the final posture. Hold the pose for as long as is comfortable and then lower the body to the starting position. Release the ankles and relax with the legs outstretched. This is one round. Do such 5 rounds.
Technique of Paschimottasana –
Sit on the floor with legs outstretched, feet together and hand on the knees. This is the starting position. Relax the whole body slowly bend forward from the hips, sliding the hands down the legs. Try to grasp the big toes with the fingers and thumbs. If this is possible, hold the heels, ankles or any part of the legs that can be reached comfortably. Move slowly without forcing or jerking. Hold the position for a few seconds. Relax the back and leg muscles allowing them to gently stretch. Keeping the legs straight and utilizing the arm muscles, not the back muscles, begin to bend the elbows and gently bring the trunk down towards the legs, maintaining a firm grip on the toes, feet or legs. Try to touch the knees with the forehead. Do not strain. This is the final position. Hold the position for as long as is comfortable and relax. Slowly return to the starting position. This is one round. Do such 5 rounds.
Technique of Trikonasana –
Stand erect with the feet about a meter apart. Turn the right foot to the right side. Stretch the arms sideways and raise them to shoulder level so that they are in one straight line. Bend to the right side not to bring the body forward. Simultaneously bend the right knee slightly. Place the right hand on the right foot, keeping the two arms in line with each other. Turn the left palm forward. Look up at the left hand in the final position. Return to the upright position with the arms in a straight line. Repeat on the opposite side, bending the left knee slightly, practice 5 rounds.
Technique of Hasta utthanasana –
Stand erect with feet together and hands by the side. Relax and balance the body weight equally on both the feet. Cross the hands in front of the body. Inhale deeply and slowly raise the arms above the head keeping the hands crossed. Synchronize the movements with breath. At the same time bend the head slightly backward and look up at the hands. Exhale and spread the arms out to the sides so that they form a straight line at shoulder level. Inhale and reverse the movement, recognizing the arms above the head. Exhale and lower the arms straight down the front of the body so that they are once again in the starting position. Repeat for 5 times.
2. Pranayama: As all sorts of pranayama increase the dead space in lungs, it thus increases the lung’s capacity to breathe in more prana, which further raises body resistance to infections. Especially recommended are ujjayi, kapalbhati, bhastrika and nadi shodhana till stage 3.
3. Mudra and bandha: Yoga mudra, prana mudra and maha bandha.
4. Shatkarma: Neti should be practiced daily and kunjal should be performed daily for one week.
5. Relaxation: Our body takes up a habit faster, even if it was produced by a disease and not by the conscious mind. Say for an instance, a repeated habit of coughing unconsciously in case of cured bronchitis. This is because of the energy left behind which now needs to be released. In yoga nidra, these suppressed impulses are released and therefore may seem like aggravating cough in initial stages. But as yoga nidra is gradually practiced, the suppressed impulses release and a patient gets cured. The sufferer can evolve beyond this disease rapidly by recognizing the action of this coping mechanism in his lifestyle, and learn to resist and overcome it.
6. Meditation: Ajapa japa, with khechari mudra and ujjayi pranayama and rotating awareness from navel to throat and throat to navel in the frontal psychic passage, is also most valuable in helping to gradually recognize and relieve a chronic cough and respiratory weakness.
7. Diet: During an attack it is best to only take fruit and vegetable juices. Later, barley water and watery khichari or vegetable broth can be taken. Avoid cold drinks and foods. Eat plenty of vegetables, raw, steamed or lightly boiled. Food that awakens body fire will certainly loosen the phlegm, thereby dislodging it and it can then be removed mechanically from the mouth by the patient. The fire stimulating foods are citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, basil leaves and mint leaves, black pepper and turmeric. Patient should be strictly on warm water through out the day till he gets cured.
8. Fasting: Fasting saves pranan shakti, decreases formation of phlegm, increases body heat, which all together help in getting cured faster. Fasting in such patients should be on warm water.
Avoid draughts and sitting on cold floors.
Bronchitis sufferers should take hot water fomentation (complete body) at least twice to thrice a day. They should not wet their hair, and should wear woolen clothes throughout the day and night to maintain raised body temperature.
Gargling with hot water should be done at least four times a day, after adding a pinch of turmeric powder, salt and a drop of ghee. This dislodges the mucus and this mucus should not be gulped. It should be mechanically expelled by the patient from the mouth.
Patient should not smoke nicotine cigarettes. Instead an ayurvedic cigarette (nirdosh) should be smoked twice a day. This is non harmful and helps in faster recovery. Without giving up nicotine smoking, none of the medications or yoga therapy will help the patient.
Steam inhalations at night are very helpful and hot foot baths with a tablespoon of mustard in the water also aid the patient.
If a person is gasping for breath, rub the arms or feet hard in the direction of the heart.