Yoga after pneumonia
Yearning to return to yoga after pneumonia
You’d hardly expect anyone to get pneumonia in Delhi in June with temperatures skimming above the 40s (Celsius). But I did. Not that I knew it was pneumonia as I battled the high fever – as an adult my temperature rarely goes over a 100 (F) even when I’m quite ill, so temperatures of 104 (F)were alarming to me but dismissed by doctor friends with their medical machismo as ‘just a viral fever’. Although I will admit that the doctor treating me (I’ve learnt not to allow friends who are doctors treat my ailments as they tend not to take me seriously that gravitas being reserved for their own family and for patients – friends are just hilarious fuss pots when they’re sick) urged me to be ‘admitted’. Which in Indian English means – go to hospital.
Certain that I would soon be well enough to fly to England as planned, (I guess I’ve internalised my doctor friends attitude) I debated not cancelling my ticket and pushing through, it’s just an 8 hour flight and a 1 hour train journey to my daughter. Luckily I factored in what it would be like if my ‘just a viral’ fever was something worse. I cancelled the ticked and a day later was ‘admitted’, ferried to hospital by worried neighbour.
The intravenous meds soon began to work, the fever went down and a chest X-ray showed pneumonia in a lobe of the left lung. Daughters happened to be traveling but came as soon as they could and I was sent home after 4 days. ‘Discharged’ they called it. I call it ‘released’. My daughter said, ‘ You’re released from prison, discharged from hospital.’ I reiterated – ‘I’ve been released.’ I hate hospitals.
What concerns me now is my terribly slow recovery. I am of course quite impatient, since two weeks of my precious summer holidays have been wasted lying in bed, and Corfu, England, Germany have shimmered away like fast fading mirages as the day for school reopening slides inexorably closer and with it all chances of travel to far away places.
From weeping about not drinking wine in the European sunshine I have moved to alarm at how weak I feel and how fierce my cough sounds.
I did what I always do when I need my body to recover and this is what I will share with you on my road to recovery.
Yoga after pneumonia
After I got the doctor’s clearance to do fifteen minutes of yoga every morning I started with some simple asanas. Let me say I chose those that don’t make me break into a sweat, I did no research and didn’t think about it, simply did some asanas instinctively – downward dog (Adho much svanasana) , Warrior pose (Virbhadra asana), Knee to nose dog pose (Jaanu Naasikaa Adho Mukha Svanasana), Crow pose (Bakasana), Tree pose (Vriskasana).
Unfortunately I wasn’t yet strong enough for so many asanas and was extremely tired in the evening. Having been blessed with good health and the belief that nutritious food, yoga and a sanguine outlook to life keep you healthy I tend to consider rest as a cop out that lazy people indulge in. I’m often pleasantly surprised by how good I feel when I do occasionally indulge in relaxation instead of working out. But how do you know when too much is too much – either way. Instinct. That’s why I find it’s so important to listen to my body and not have an agenda – to work out or sleep in just because i’ve decided to do so.
Despite my exhaustion post the yoga work out I know that I’m going to try it again slowly quite soon – perhaps once the energy draining antibiotics stop.
Downward dog seems to be a good asana because it helps get the fluid out of the lungs, which is what we’re trying to do with the coughing and the cough syrup as well as the steam. I find this (the yoga) has to be balanced with adequate rest and getting my arms and shoulders tired from too much downward dogging made me a little anxious later in the day because of the pain I experienced. Eventually identified as muscle pain but it took a while and I wasn’t happy. You know how one over thinks things when one is lying in bed sick.
Another thing I instinctively wanted to do was get a hot water bottle to my back but nobody had advised it – neither my nurse/ayurvedic practitioner sister nor my doctor. My middle daughter suggested it, since she loves heating pads, warm socks, and all things cuddly and comforting. Luckily we have good old google so I did the research and getting the all clear from Dr. Google made myself many hot water bottles. I had to steal them back from my new kitten Rosie, who thought they were a delightful invention of humans. Which they are.
Wow – that warmth worked wonders, loosening the phlegm, helping with the pain that has suddenly developed and generally raising my mood which was beginning to dip from so many days of lying in bed.
My doctor had recommended steam, and the oh-so advanced practice of thumping my back – lung physiotherapy they called it – that loosened the mucus. The problem is I live alone and my daughters aren’t always there to do the thumping. Maybe Daisy – the older cat – can learn.
What I found was that after applying heat, in the form of the hot water bottle, if I lay on my stomach with half my body off the bed, supported by my arms and coughed – it was much easier to get the stuff out of my lungs. A lot like downward dog but with the bed supporting me – which is better for me right now in my weakened state where rest is of paramount importance. This last practice is brilliant – I did it quite a few times yesterday and feel much better today – but not exhausted as I was after the yoga session.
Can’t wait to do a proper session of yoga asap – but I’ve come to terms with the the idea that it just isn’t possible right now and that my lung needs me to rest more than keeping myself fit, so that it can heal. It’s been quite a struggle and I have not come to this realisation without a lot of tears, fears and irritation at my lost holidays.
I’ll be talking about diet tomorrow.