A virus is a sub-microscopic infectious particle that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses are present almost everywhere and all living creatures including humans are getting infected with them on daily basis. Our body has immune system which is capable of handling these viruses. Corona viruses enter our body via nose or mouth and our respiratory and digestive track is well equipped with various systems which if function well can handle the viruses at the point of entry itself. Most of the microbes entering into our digestive system are destroyed in gastric acid. Those viruses which are entering into our respiratory system, first are trapped in mucous in the upper respiratory system that is in nose, throat, trachea, bronchi or in bronchioles. Mucous in respiratory track being sticky can trap most of the microbes, dust and many other particles easily. If our respiratory system is working well and is in healthy condition, the virus can be trapped into the mucous and trapped virus with mucous will slowly slowly transported towards to throat by a special process called mucociliary clearance (Fig 1). Cilia is a special hair like structure present on the surface of our respiratory track. Cilia beats in co-ordination with other nearby cilia to push the mucous against the gravity and to bring it to throat. That’s why, you may feel some mucous / cough in throat at regular interval, especially in the morning, this is the effect as a result of mucociliary clearance process.
Then, from throat, either it is spited out (thrown out of body) or swallowed into the stomach. If swallowed into the stomach, then, the viruses trapped in mucous will be destroyed because of gastric acid effect.
Thus, mucociliary clearance is very important mechanism for removal of not only viruses, but also dust and other particles from respiratory track. For normal mucociliary clearance, the respiratory system shall have to be functioning normal, without any problem that includes no injury and proper hydration of the respiratory track surface layer. Optimal mucociliary clearance is achieved at 37°C and 100% relative humidity. Cilia beat frequency decreases with increasing age, hence accordingly, mucociliary clearance may decrease with age. Posture influences Mucociliary Clearance by making use of gravitational forces, hence if you invert your body (e.g. in anti-gravity Yoga), gravitation force help to move mucous from lungs to throat. It is scientifically observed that coronaviruses can disrupt the cilia and its beating function, can abolish its integrity and greatly diminish mucociliary clearance. Coronavirus also multiply in number in respiratory track. Thus, impairment in mucociliary clearance in respiratory track facilitate viral spread within the airways. Decreased mucociliary clearance slow down the transport of viruses towards the throat and facilitate viral access to deeper regions of the lungs as the diseases progresses.
Fig 2: Site of Nitric Oxide Production in Respiratory System
In addition to mucous, our respiratory track is very good factory of certain chemicals which can kill virus, bacteria etc. Nitric Oxide is one of such chemicals secreted in our respiratory track and scientific research has showed that it has very good anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. It is released in the respiratory track which can kill many of these microbes. Nitric Oxide also stimulate cilia motility and increases speed of mucociliary clearance. Because of these excellent anti-microbial action of Nitric Oxide, its Nasal Spray product has been designed by one of the Pharma Companies and is under clinical trial. Its clinical trial in UK as well as in India showed that Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray can be effective treatment for COVID19. But, interestingly this Nitric Oxide can be very well produced within our respiratory track itself, mainly from paranasal sinuses (Fig 2).
Scientifically conducted research shows that “Humming sound” (Sound of Om Chanting, Sound of Bhramari Pranayam) stimulate secretion of Nitric Oxide in our respiratory track. Endogenous Nitric Oxide level has been detected 15-fold (factor of 15 times) high during exhalation with humming compared with quiet exhalation. The vibration of humming sound of Om Chanting and Bhramari Pranayam also stimulate cilia movement and greatly support mucociliary clearance. Scientific research has also showed that Anuloma-Viloma pranayam practice cause enhancement in cilia beat frequency. So, all these effects are contributory to Nitric Oxide release to kill viruses in respiratory track and to increases Mucociliary Clearance, and both are very important mechanisms for handling and removal of viruses from the respiratory track. Thus, these Yoga practices are sufficient enough to start Nitric Oxide factory of our respiratory system and to protect you from corona virus infections.
- Need to learn the correct practice of Om chanting, Bhramari Pranayam, Anuloma-Viloma pranayam before self-practicing them.
- Practice as per the instructions of the expert, don’t over-do.
- Maintain hydration of your throat. If you have dry throat or irritation in throat, reduce the duration of practice to your comfort. Don’t over-do if have dry throat or irritation in throat.
The Om Chanting and Bhramari Pranayam are such a very simple practice that, a person can practice it anytime, anywhere. Office job doing person can also practice it at office desk whenever feasible. If various corporate group wishes, Om or Bhramari humming sound session can be arranged at any office / workspace atleast to prevent COVID19 within own office set-up.
Besides these mechanical effects, scientific research also shows that Yoga practices have beneficial effect on mental health as well. Stress is the root cause of almost all lifestyle diseases, and scientific research has reported that Yoga practices including various Aasana, Pranayam, Mantra Chanting, and Meditation helps in reducing the impact of situation like COVID19 by reducing anxiety, fear, stress and increasing or maintaining the immunity as a result of modulation of HPA axis. All these effects help in controlling stress and strengthen the antiviral immune responses also.
As a Medical / Clinical Scientist and Yoga Scientist, I like to focus on the fact that we have rich heritage of healthy stress-free lifestyle practices supported by Ayurveda and Yoga science. Our Yoga Science is the most respected science of lifestyle, and today, entire world had accepted, admired and respected Yoga by giving 21-June as “International Day of Yoga”. We must understand these. Our body has all enormous power to tackle almost all diseases, we just need to give our body a chance for the same by preparing our body to tackle such diseases. A third wave of the COVID19 is inevitable as per the principal scientific adviser to the Government of India. There are many other simple and easy Yoga practices which anybody can carry out on daily basis to make body and mind strong enough to tackle all the diseases. At least, Yoga practice can very well help us in making our body less vulnerable to diseases. It is already scientifically proved that Yoga is one of the most important practice for modulating immune system, balancing hormonal system; and by doing so, you can prepare your body and mind for future challenging pandemics. So try to believe in our Indian Yoga Science and explore its benefits and stand strong in COVID19 Pandemic or its future waves.
There are 2 types of smart people, one who handle the problem in best way; and another are who do not let the problem to occur. The former are called “Intellectual People”, but later are called “Genius people”. Also, there is an idiom, “Prevention is better than cure”; and if we apply this to our health, it is very important. Prevention may be “little Effort requiring or may be little Uncomfortable”; but curing process will be “Costly, Painful and may involve disabilities or permanent loss”. So, let us change our lifestyle and let us adopt Yoga as lifestyle to prevent health problems.