Health

3 Expert-Approved Exercises To Boost Healing as You Recover From COVID

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If you’ve recently had COVID-19, you know how debilitating the symptoms can be. Fatigue and shortness of breath can linger well after the acute illness is gone. And even if most of your symptoms subside, it could take a while before you feel 100 percent yourself. Recovering from COVID-19 looks different for everyone. But no matter where you fit in, completing quick, easy, and gentle yoga poses each day can aid in healing. 

To learn which exercises would be best for a person recovering from COVID-19, I reached out to Melanie Salvatore-August, certified yoga instructor and author of Yoga to Support Immunity: Mind, Body, Breathing Guide to Whole Health (Buy from Amazon, $14.79). Salvatore-August selected three gentle breathing exercises that will help reduce your stress levels, support proper breathing, boost blood circulation, and increase your oxygen levels. 

To be clear, we recommend speaking to your doctor before trying out any of these exercises. While they are all very gentle, it’s important not to speed your recovery with exercise before your body is ready. A doctor can help you make the best decisions for your health and recovery process. (And if you are having difficulty breathing, contact a medical professional immediately.)  

Ready to get started? Check out these soothing techniques. 

1: Breathing in Child’s Pose or Prone On Your Belly

sketch drawings of a figure in child's pose and a figure in pronate on belly
Sebastian Alappat

According to Salvatore-August, practicing deep breaths in either child’s pose or lying on your belly helps encourage you to take proper breaths. “It opens up the lungs and clears stagnation and debris,” she explains, in reference to breathing face downward. If you remember, medical professionals often have hospitalized COVID-19 patients lie on their stomachs, because it helps force more oxygen into the lungs.

To do, gently bring yourself into your preferred position (child’s pose or prone, or one after the other), and complete slow, deep, and mindful breaths for about one minute.

2: Knees to Chest

sketch of a figure in knees-to-chest yoga pose
Sebastian Alappat

Also known as “apanasa,” this pose helps release tension, calm down nerves and stress, and aid in digestion (and elimination). Salvatore-August says that it also decreases inflammation and should increase oxygenation and blood circulation.

To practice this move yourself, lie down on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Hug your knees to your chest holding underneath your knees (as opposed to holding onto your kneecaps, which can add unnecessary pressure to your knees). Breathe deeply, in and out, for at least four or five breath cycles.

3: Pursed-Lip Breathing in a Seated Fold

sketch figure in seated cross-legged pose, completing deep breaths, lips pursed
Sebastian Alappat

Pursed lip breathing, or trumpet breathing, is a wonderful exercise you can do just sitting at your desk, or if you need to take a quick, de-stressing break during the day. As with the movements above, it can support proper expansion of the diaphragm and lungs, as Salvatore-August points out. Performing pursed lip breathing in a folded, seated position can help you stretch your legs.

To perform this move, sit with your legs folded (one on top of the other, if you’re flexible enough!) and rest your hands on your knees. Take a deep, slow breath in through your nose, then purse your lips and breathe out through your mouth. Focus on sending your energy downward through your body. Repeat for at least four to five breath cycles.

To create your own quick and easy breathing routine, simply perform these exercises one after the other in the morning, and whenever you have a break during the day. Taking a minute or two to stay present in the moment and focus on healing can do wonders for your mental health, and the health of your body. We wish you a full recovery from COVID-19!

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