Yoga For Tuberculosis Patients

Long known as the ‘King of Diseases’ by ayurveda practitioners, tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most feared and deadliest diseases. In the year 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the disease killed 1.4 million people directly and was the imminent cause of death for a 400,000 more individuals who were infected with HIV. When put together, the death toll was about 1.8 million.

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What Is Tuberculosis?

What Is Tuberculosis

TB is a highly contagious disease that spreads through air, and is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Fortunately, it isn’t too easy to catch TB. A person usually has to be living in closed spaces with someone infected with TB disease over a long period of time. This disease is usually spread between immediate family members and close friends, and also between people who work or live together. Even though it generally attacks the lungs, it can also adversely harm other organs of the body such as those belonging to the nervous system.

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Most times, active TB results from the activation of latent or hidden TB infections or old infections in people with weak immune systems and can be fatal. Active TB patients will often, though not always, display symptoms and can pass the infection onto others.

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How Does Tuberculosis Affect Its Victims?

How Does Tuberculosis Affect Its Victims

Most times, drug therapies are administered to cure tuberculosis which last for atleast 3 months, if not longer. Adverse effects of medication, lengthy duration of treatment along with social stigma can make TB patients go through a wide range of painful emotions like fear, anger, stress, shame, and depression when dealing with this condition. Some patients even refuse to stick to their TB therapy treatment which is another huge obstacle in successfully treating TB.1 This can greatly deteriorate the quality of lifestyle for TB patients, and in addition to their health, their morale takes a hit as well.

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How Yoga Helps In Tuberculosis Recovery

How Yoga Helps In Tuberculosis Recovery

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Being aware of the implications of TB is pretty much half the solution to the problem already. While multiple national and international schemes make an effort to conduct sessions that aim at educating citizens about TB and how important it is to go through with all stages of treating it, it appears that there is still a need to make the actual therapy effective by the additional reinforcement by yoga.2

Through the years, yoga is known to help a person develop mastery over the mind, which in turn can positively affect his lifestyle. Yoga involves several physical, mental, intellectual, and emotional levels to be practiced and perfected to stabilize the mind and improve immunity.

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By involving yoga as part of TB therapy, a patient would be a lot more willing to go through with the whole process and his quality of life would be so much better because of the reinforced feelings of positivity. The disciplined practise of starting the day with yoga would also influence the mind in disciplining itself for speedy recovery.

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Yoga Exercises For TB Patients

There are many pranayamas that a TB patient can do but there are two pranayamas that really work the best when it comes to reducing the stress levels of TB patients significantly.

1. Kalpabhati

Kalpabhati

The word Kapalabhati comes from two words – kapala meaning skull and bhati which means shining. This typically means that practicing the Kapalabhati pranayam, releases the toxins from the body, because of which, the skull shines.

Kapalabhati can also be be termed as “Forceful exhalations” and is namely one of the body cleansing exercises of yoga. The important thing to remember while doing this pranayama, is that you need to pay attention and focus on the exhalations.

Technique

  • Sit down and make yourself comfortable in either Sukha asana or the cross-legged posture or Padma asana which means the lotus posture. Make sure your back is straight and chin parallel to the ground.
  • Slowly close your eyes.
  • Now exhale or breathe out with force so that your abdomen pushes itself all the way inwards.
  • Perform multiple forceful exhalations one after the other without any pause.

Tip – The exhalations should be done with as much force possible. Use this as a simple test to check if you are exhaling correctly – keep a burning candle on a low table close to where you’re sitting so that its flame is on the same level as your nose. As you exhale with force, the flame of the candle should die down. If it does, you’re doing the exercise correctly; if it doesn’t, it means you’ve have to increase the force with which you exhale.

Stages in Kapalabhati

Kapalabhati can be done in 3 stages.

Stage 1 – Leave a gap of approximately 1 second between two consecutive forceful exhalations.

Stage 2 – Leave a gap of approximately half a second between two consecutive forceful exhalations

Stage 3 – There would be no gap between two successive forceful exhalations. The exhalations would be done continuously and rapidly.

Duration

Each stage of Kapalabhati should be done for about 5 minutes each. Remember, you don’t have to do all three stages in one go. You could do Sukha pranayama (the deep abdominal breathing exercise) in between each stage whenever you feel tired.

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2. Bhastrika Chest Pranayama

Bhastrika Chest Pranayama

This pranayama is unique because it is the only one in yoga that involves chest breathing, while the rest focus on abdominal breathing. The term “Bhastrika” means “bellows of a blacksmith”, which basically means that as you do this pranayama a strong current of air is produced. Both inhalation and exhalation is done with equal force in this pranayama. Regular practice of this pranayama will cleanse the pores in the lungs. Moreover, it also helps to remove the phlegm which might have accumulated over time in the chest.

Technique

  • Sit down and make yourself comfortable in Sukha asana or Padma asana.
  • Slowly close your eyes, and place your palms on top of your thighs.
  • Concentrate on your breathing for a while.
  • Now take a deep breath in. Remember to breathe in with force so that your abdomen shrinks all the way in, and your chest puffs out. This means your rib cage is visibly expanding as you breathe in. Take your hands back as you breathe in.
  • Now breathe out all the air you just breathed in with a strong force and a quick jerk so that the abdomen returns to its original position. As you breathe out, bring your hands back to position on your thighs.

With this, you complete one round of Bhastrika Chest pranayama.

Duration

This pranayama should be done for about 3 to 5 minutes. If you feel yourself getting tired in between, you can do some deep abdominal breathing to relax yourself.

Word Of Caution: Rest and properly graded exercise are two important factors while treating tuberculosis. Deep breathing exercises should be avoided while the disease is active or after it has advanced considerably. There could be a danger of tearing loose adhesions by such forceful exercise and bringing about the disease all over again.

If a tuberculous patient is below normal weight and has a temperature above the normal range, he is really much safer resting, than taking exercise.

After he gets better and this body no longer shows a temperature, exercising is good, but only in limited amounts. Under proper direction, the patient can make it to recovery. Only when a patient gets himself to a full healthy weight, he can start with well-graded exercise and should aim to gradually harden himself for considerable endurance.

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