Clinicians and meditation practitioners have undertaken research in at least three Delhi hospitals to ascertain if yoga can improve the overall condition of COVID-19 patients. The Department of Science and Technology under the Ministry of Science and Technology had invited proposals for the study in April.
In the national capital, the research is being conducted at the AIIMS, the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and the Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH).
The study evaluates the effect of yoga -- pranayama and relaxation -- on stress, mood, sleep quality, symptom severity, quality of life and clinical outcomes in coronavirus patients, Dr Ajit Jain, the nodal officer for COVID-19 at RGSSH, said.
Only those diagnosed with COVID-19 through RT-PCR testing, who have mild symptoms and are aged between 18 and 60 years are being included in the research, he said.
Those suffering from severe coronavirus infection, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, cancer, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases cannot participate in it.
The research involves a mobile application-based yoga intervention programme and non-obtrusive, non-contact monitoring of the patients' vitals, using a novel technology -- the Dozee sensor mat.
The sensor mat is placed under a patient's mattress. It can figure how healthy the patient is or if he is developing any disorder like sleep apnea or heart disorders.
It monitors the heart rate, the respiration rate, stress levels and sleep quality, the doctor said.
"The study will assess if yoga intervention helped reduce stress, improve sleep and vitals in this population," reads its concept note.
COVID-19 patients remain in isolation during treatment and develop anxiety and stress due to confinement and uncertainty of the disease trajectory.
Psychological distress due to isolation can down-regulate the immune defences of patients and increase the severity of the illness, Jain said.
The researchers are using a mobile-based yoga application that can deliver yoga modules and evaluating the response of the patients using the sensor mat.
Researchers say studies on yoga and meditation in managing flu symptoms during an influenza season have shown promising results.