All this talk about COVID 19 has everyone fearful. We are being asked to do “social distancing”, the schools are closed, our community centers are closed, and grocery stores are emptied of many products as people stock up for the unknown. As I understand it, we don’t want to gather in large groups, where we are more likely to be exposed to someone that is sick. We need to practice good hygiene such as washing our hands very thoroghly, avoid touching our face, and keep our surroundings clean. One thing that I think is missing from these suggestions is the queston of fear. Fear will make you feel frustrated and helpless. You are not alone, you are NEVER alone.
In my frustration, I selected a rune stone.
The stone that I pulled was Eihwaz: DEFENSE
“You are now put on notice that, through inconvenience and discomfort, growth is promoted. This may well be a trying time; certainly it is a meaningful one. So set your house in order, tend to business, be clear and wait on the Will of Heaven.” This explanation of the stone is from The Book of Runes by Ralph H Blum.
Now what does Yoga have to say about this issue?
Here is an article from Yoga Rashana Vol 16 No 4: 2009, It is interesting to read that what they went through in 2009 was very similar to what we are experiencing now in 2020.
Building Immunity – Avoiding the Flu by Rajivi H Mehta
Guruji Yogacharya B K S Iyengar was born during the 1918 Influenza pandemic and even his mother was not spared the infection during her pregnancy. This had led to a very sickly childhood for our Guruji. It was this ill-health that introduced him to yoga with which he has given health to millions across the world.
91 years later the pandemic struck again. Earlier, it was the Spanish Flu while this time it was the swine flu. More than the flu, it was the fear of contracting the flu that worried people. Those who traveled to another land feared of contracting it while the locals feared that the visitors may have brought the virus with them! Government authorities attempted to control the spread of the virus by closing down schools and institutions. RIMYI (The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute) was also not spared and was asked to shut down for a week although none of the students were affected. Pune was the epicenter of the epidemic in India and with so many visitors from foreign lands at RIMYI -the risk appeared to be high. But, the officials did not realize that RIMYI had some very potent mode of prevention of swine flu – the experience and wisdom of Guruji.
Yes. We can curtail the spread of any infection by getting into isolation.
But, is that a real, pratical solution? Why is it that not all people exposed to an infected person aquire the disease? If a H1N1 (the virus responsible for the current pandemic) infected person were to sneeze, he/she does indeed release tons of the virus and all the people who breathe that air should get infected. But, that does not happen. Only a few contract the disease. Most people who get infected manage to recover without medication. It is only some who develop complications. It is all about immunity! Build a strong immune system and you reduce your risk to becoming susceptible to infections. But how does one do that?
Modern science is aware of mechanisims of building muscles and cardiovascular system through exercise but what about the immune system? There are some thoughts that vitamins help, a healthy diet, and hygienic lifestyle helps, but there does not seem anything specific at the moment that can help build immune system.
Guruji provided us with a specific sequence of asana-s that help build the immune system.
This was posted on the RIMYI notice board during the swine flu pandemic. This can help us not only avert the flu virus but also many more bacteria and viruses especially when they are lurking in the air and water!
Morning Practice: Uttanasana (5 min), Adho Mukha Svanasana (5 min), Prasarita Podottanasa (3 min), Sirsasana (5 min), Viparita Dandasana on a chair (5 min), Sarvangasana (10 min), Halasana (5 min), Sarvangasana Cycle (5 min), Viparita Karani (5 min), Savasana with Viloma or Ujjayi (10 min)
Evening Practice: Sirsasana (10 min), Sarvangasana (10 min), Halasana (5 min), Setu Bandha (10 min), Savasana with Viloma or Ujjayi (10 min)
*If you can not hold the pose as long as suggested, just do the pose to your capacity. If there are poses on this list you are not practicing, skip those poses and continue with what you are able to do. We will be practicing this sequence in class and handouts will be available for you to take home. If you or someone you love at home has a compromised immune system and you don’t want to come to class, I am happy to email a copy of the handout to you.