By William C Bushell, Ph.D., Eddie Stern, and Maureen Seaberg
When oxygen levels in people’s blood drop dangerously low, they will usually become short of breath; they will likely become alarmed and seek emergency help.
However, in COVID-19, the virus often compromises the sensorium, the seat of the senses, so much that “silent hypoxia” occurs and victims have no idea they are in mortal danger.
We have found that practicing meditation and yoga could boost sensory health. And as if to underscore it, doctors are having success placing patients into a prone posture akin to the yoga asanas in order to improve their respiration.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a task force was formed to advocate the practice of meditation and yoga as a potential adjunctive treatment for COVID-19, because of the significant anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing (including anti-infectious and antiviral) properties of these behavioral health modalities.
This task force, consisting of scientists from MIT, Harvard Medical School, the University of California, San Diego, and the Chopra Research Library of the Whole Health Institute, included infectious disease epidemiologists, one of whom has been affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The scientific model that was put forth by this team was just published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, and integrated voluminous scientific evidence demonstrating that meditation and yoga practices could potentially protect multiple organ systems of the body generally, including the respiratory system.
Now some of the authors of this article and some new ones are seeking to extend this original scientific model to explore how certain meditation and yoga practices may potentially be used to intervene in critical phases of the COVID-19 and whether they may even offer means of intervention that cannot be surpassed by other, standard, medical means.
In advanced respiratory disease states similar to COVID-19, blood oxygen levels progressively drop to dangerous levels, in the process producing aversive sensations resulting from acute difficulty breathing, known as dyspnea. Such sensations tend to intensify as…