How yoga helped me heal from Covid-19

Posted in self care |
How yoga helped me heal from Covid-19

My COVID-19 Experience

On January 6, 2021, I woke up with a cough and a 100 degree fever, and wished more than anything it wasn't COVID-19. I drove to the closest rapid testing center, and within hours I had the results: positive for COVID-19. Only a week into the new year, I had set my new year's intentions on being more productive and spending more time surfing and practicing yoga, but as reality set in, I realized I'd be quarantined to the confines of my home for the next 2 weeks.

To ensure I had a gentle yoga practice to look forward to every day, I immediately set up a sacred yoga space in my home, with my mat, all of my props, bolsters, blankets, candles, incense, and essential oils. As the days went on, my symptoms only got worse - I developed increasing chest tightness, shortness of breath, and extreme body aches. The back aches were by far the worst part, it was pain so intense that it made me nauseous. 

How Yoga Helped Me Heal 

As a dedicated yoga teacher and practitioner, I was so grateful to have the wisdom of yoga in my tool-belt to use during such a challenging time. 

> PranayamaEvery morning, I would wake up and do a long pranayama (breathwork) practice, in order to expand my lung capacity and fight my shortness of breath. For this particular time, I practiced Wim Hof breathing, as it helps increase lung capacity.

Here's how: Lay down on your yoga mat, with one hand on the belly and one hand on the heart, close your eyes and begin your breathing practice. For 1 full minute, take quick, deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. After 1 minute, then inhale as deeply as you can, and hold it for 10 seconds, and exhale out of your mouth. Repeat that sequence as many times as you can (I would often do this for about 10-15 minutes).

> Restorative YogaWhen I had Covid-19, I stuck strictly to a restorative yoga asana practice. As the name suggests, this style of yoga “restores” the body to its parasympathetic nervous system function, which helps the body rest, heal, and restore balance. Longer poses and deeper breathing help elicit deep rest and peace of mind.

Yoga poses that helped my back aches included: child's pose, cat pose, half happy baby pose, supine twist, restorative supported bridge pose, legs up the wall pose, and supported Savasana.

> MeditationI use meditation often as a technique to calm my mind in the most stressful of times. One of my favorite techniques is the body scan. Body scan meditation is a good way to release tension you might not even realize you're experiencing. Body scanning involves paying attention to parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual sequence from feet to head.

How To: Starting in a comfortable seat with the eyes closed, take a full scan of the body. 
Land, and remember that the ground, the support, is there underneath you. From the ground up, bring your awareness to each part of your body, starting with the feet. Notice and pain or stiffness you are experiencing in this part of the body, and breath into that space to release tension. Continue this practice until you have scanned all parts of the body.

> Gentle Yoga for Back Pain (25 minute video)

This 25 minute restorative practice is what helped me heal. It's designed to relieve pain in your low to mid-back, as well as your kidney band area. I wanted to film the practice that helped me heal, in hopes that it could help anyone else that might be experiencing aches, pains, or stiffness in their back. I hope it helps you heal your body as well - enjoy!

About Our Ambassador

Emily Meersand is a California-based yoga teacher, Manduka ambassador, and surfer whose life has been inspired by the teachings of yoga. She hosts weekly virtual classes, and leads surf and yoga retreats all over the world. Follow along on IG @sanfranciscoyogi or

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