Sudarshan Kriya Yoga: A Breath of Hope during COVID-19 Pandemic

Int J Yoga. 2021 Jan-Apr;14(1):18-25. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_102_20. Epub 2021 Feb 5.


Important counter measures to combat an infectious disease pandemic include vaccination, antiviral therapy, and immunomodulation therapy. Vaccinations are disease specific and moreover strain specific, so the protection provided is also specific and limited. Antiviral therapies are costly and require bulk production of drugs, hence globally there is an increased interest toward low-risk, cost-effective complementary alternative therapies, such as Yoga and Ayurveda to tackle the infectious pandemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is clinical evidence available on the potential complementary role of yogic practices in the management of noncommunicable and communicable diseases. Various online databases were searched for articles published between 2000 and 2020. Databases explored were Medline, EMBASE, Indian Citation Index, PsycINFO, Index Medicus for South-East Asia Region, and Google Scholar. All search results were screened, and articles related to keywords such as COVID-19, yoga therapy, and Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) were selected for data extraction. Quality of the studies included was evaluated on the basis of the construct validity, content validity, relevance, bias, credibility relating to information, and data sources. SKY is a unique yogic practice that includes specific sequential breathing techniques. It balances the autonomic nervous system and thus can alleviate anxiety, routine stress, depression, stress-related medical disorders, and posttraumatic stress. It potentiates natural host immune defenses that are essential to tackle a plethora of microbial infections. This narrative review article provides an overview of potential therapeutic benefits that SKY can offer to the population at large during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus disease 2019; Sudarshan Kriya Yoga; posttraumatic stress disorder; stress; vagus nerve stimulation; yoga therapy.

Publication types

  • Review