Can Yoga Help Relieve the Symptoms of Long Covid? Part One : The Respiratory System

Updated: Oct 3

This article was recently published by OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine. To view on their website click here.

Eighteen months into this pandemic and I think all of us by now know someone who has contracted Covid-19. Some people have suffered with the virus, some people have developed what is now known as Long Covid. Perhaps you are someone struggling with the symptoms of Long Covid? I have had numerous friends and students ask me over the last eighteen months can yoga help support long covid sufferers and the simple answer is yes! In this 3-part article series I aim to unravel a little bit about long covid and how yoga can help to relieve the symptoms.

So what is Long Covid? Long Covid is the term that is being used to describe the effects of Covid-19 that continue for some people for weeks and/or months after they have contracted the virus. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) here in the UK defines long Covid sufferers as people who have had symptoms lasting for more than 12 weeks.

Research published in June 2021 by Imperial College London have identified two groups of long covid symptoms. The first being mainly respiratory, coughs, breathlessness, but also including fatigue and headaches. The second affecting many other parts of the body including heart, brain and gut (increased heartbeat, pins and needles, palpitations, numbness and ‘brain fog’).

Another study published in the Lancet’s journal EClinicalMedicine last month, surveyed 3,762 people with confirmed or suspected Long Covid from 56 countries around the world. It identified 203 symptoms, of which 66 were tracked for seven months. The most common three symptoms reported were fatigue, post-exertional malaise (where people’s health worsens after physical or mental exertion) and brain fog. Other symptoms from this study included visual hallucinations, tremors, itchy skin, changes to the menstrual cycle, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, bladder control issues, shingles, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhoea and tinnitus.

In this first article we are going to look at Long Covid and The Respiratory System because first and foremost Covid-19 is a respiratory illness and some of the main Long Covid symptoms being reporting are things like shortness of breath, persistent coughs and chest tightness.

But how does covid-19 actually affect the respiratory system? In simple terms the covid-19 virus infects the respiratory tract in the body. It travels down your airways and the lining of your lungs becomes irritated and inflamed. The lungs air sacs fill with fluid, limiting their ability to take in