A narrative review on yoga: a potential intervention for augmenting immunomodulation and mental health in COVID-19


Background: The ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has a significant mortality rate of 3–5%. The principal causes of multiorgan failure and death are cytokine release syndrome and immune dysfunction. Stress, anxiety, and depression has been aggravated by the pandemic and its resultant restrictions in day-to-day life which may contribute to immune dysregulation. Thus, immunity strengthening and the prevention of cytokine release syndrome are important for preventing and minimizing mortality in COVID-19 patients. However, despite a few specific remedies that now exist for the SARS-CoV-2virus, the principal modes of prevention include vaccination, masking, and holistic healing methods, such as yoga. Currently, extensive research is being conducted to better understand the neuroendocrinoimmunological mechanisms by which yoga alleviates stress and inflammation. This review article explores the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating potentials of yoga, along with its role in reducing risk for immune dysfunction and impaired mental health. Methods: We conducted this narrative review from published literature in MEDLINE, EMBASE, COCHRANE databases. Screening was performed for titles and abstracts by two independent review authors; potentially eligible citations were retrieved for full-text review. References of included articles and articles of major non-indexed peer reviewed journals were searched for relevance by two independent review authors. A third review author checked the excluded records. All disagreements were resolved through discussion amongst review authors or through adjudication by a fourth review author. Abstracts, editorials, conference proceedings and clinical trial registrations were excluded. Observations: Yoga is a nonpharmacological, cost-effective, and safe intervention associated with several health benefits. Originating in ancient India, this vast discipline consists of postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation (dhyana/dharana), and relaxation. Studies have demonstrated yoga’s ability to bolster innate immunity and to inhibit cytokine release syndrome. As an intervention, yoga has been shown to improve mental health, as it alleviates anxiety, depression, and stress and enhances mindfulness, self-control, and self-regulation. Yoga has been correlated with numerous cardioprotective effects, which also may play a role in COVID-19 by preventing lung and cardiac injury. Conclusion and relevance: This review paves the path for further research on yoga as a potential intervention for enhancing innate immunity and mental health and thus its role in prevention and adjunctive treatment in COVID-19.

Publication Title

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies