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Music Therapy for Post Covid-19 recovery

Music helps in uplifting the mood and helps to release happy hormones

The power of sound and music coupled with various vocal exercises can help cope with the after-effects of Covid-19, say music therapists.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : September 14, 2021 11:12 AM IST

Music makes our lives better, whether we know it or not. The frequency that the sound is at, the kind of sound you are listening to and of course, the mood that you are listening to, all impact the way that music affects you. Music has played a very important role in these tough times of the pandemic, from helping cope with stress or anxiety to recovering from the after-effects of Covid.

While this pandemic has left us with so many physical after-effects, it has also struck emotional chaos and an effect on the psychological wellbeing of not only the patients, but also society at large. For the people who have recovered from the disease, its long-lasting physical effects are far less impactful than the mental stress and fear that it has left behind.

Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana, co-founders of The Sound Space, have been conducting music therapy sessions for adults who have recovered from Covid-19 to deal with anxiety and help in strengthening the body chakras. According to them, music therapy for post Covid-19 recovery has shown phenomenal results. Speaking to The HealthSite, they shared more about "Music Therapy For Post Covid-19 Recovery."

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How does music help Covid-19 patients?

Sound affects the different cells of the body. Different frequencies affect different parts, or different energy centres of the body. These energy centres or chakras are the focal point of emotions, thoughts and even physical sensations. Once the chakras are aligned, one is in good health. In the case of Covid patients, we usually work with the Throat Chakra which is found to be directly linked with immunity building and clearing of congestion - both physical and mental.

At The Sound Space we use different kinds of instruments like:

Singing Bowl - which helps to bring the body and the mind to a receptive level. The vibrations of the singing bowl prime the body with a sense of stillness and calmness.

The Bija Mantra - using the power of the human voice, we use a Bija Mantra or seed sound which is chanted at a specific frequency that helps to align the different chakras of the body. With Covid patients, we focus on the throat and heart chakras - using the specific Bija mantra for this chakra.

Chime Bars - These bars are tuned to a particular scale or raag which has the desired effect on the body. In the case of Covid patients, we work specifically with respiration and emotional stability. Ragas such as Raga Bhairavi and Raga Durga have the desired effects.

The right type of music - whether you are listening to it or singing along to it or if it is even just playing in the background has found far reaching effects in significantly reducing stress and anxiety.

Further, music helps in uplifting the mood and helps to release happy hormones. Conducting group chanting and singing sessions online would help to bring people together and find a common voice through the power of sound and music. Also, chanting helps to regularize the heart rate helping the body reach a state of calm so as to cope with the healing process and aftereffects of the medication.

Rhythmic breathing for quick Covid recovery. Please elaborate on this.

During a series of sessions conducted for Covid patients, we found that the correct posture and technique for breathing is key for quick recovery. What made it more interesting was that following the rhythm of the body to find a pace in the breathwork was a wonderful way to find an appropriate breathing pattern. Using music to streamline the breath, makes it easier to connect the body to its inner sound and breathe more freely.

Dr. Zahabia Basrai, a physiotherapist in Mumbai, says "Rhythmic breathing is one of the most important components for post Covid recovery. Practising rhythmic breathing patterns improves lung capacity, stabilises vitals, promotes relaxation and helps in fatigue."

The Ripple Effect

The magic of the music and rhythm transcends from the mind to the body and vice versa. This leaves behind a wholesome sense of well-being and recovery. Through our workshops, we have found that the combination of rhythmic breathing and music helps post covid recovery, as well as improves heart and lung health.

The correct use of ragas, bija mantras and instrumental music have a specific effect on the mental health of patients recovering from Covid. Allowing a release, the music makes way for a healthier heart, mind and body.

A patient shares his experience with music therapy

A patient, named Akshay Bhat, who had attended the music therapy sessions shared his experience. He said, "I had a great experience attending the music healing workshop series in June. While the sessions themselves were deeply relaxing, I also learnt useful breathing techniques and aids to meditation. It was also interesting to learn about the different chakras and how to strengthen them with simple exercises. Kamakshi, Vishala and Zahabia broke down complex topics into easy to understand and follow segments. I always felt refreshed and relaxed at the end of each session, along with the satisfying feeling of learning something new."

Growing evidence supports the benefits of music on mental and physical health, and several studies are being conducted to better understand the efficacy of music therapy in a variety of disorders.

For example, Babar A. Khan, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, is using a Sound Health grant to test a music intervention with patients who have delirium, including those with Covid-19. Delirium an acute, short-term condition marked by confusion and emotional disruption afflicts as many as 80 per cent of patients who are in the intensive care unit for respiratory failure, including those with Covid.

In 2020, a study by Pontifical Catholic University in Chile revealed that musical training can improve working memory in children. The researchers found that musically trained children have greater activation in brain regions related to attention control and executive functions, known to be associated with improved reading, higher resilience, greater creativity, and a better quality of life.

Studies have also shown that listening to music while pregnant offers multiple benefits for both the mother and the unborn baby.

The aim of using music as a therapy is not to master the art or skill in music with an emphasis on performance, rather it focuses on development of non-musical skills to improve one's quality of life, according to Dr. Akanksha Pandey, Consultant Clinical Psychology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore.

It is highly adaptive to the clients' needs and conditions, he stated.

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