Breath is the vehicle of life. It carries us forward from one moment to the next, gives us energy and supports the functioning of organs and systems in the body. And for this to happen, lungs are the key organs that supply enough oxygen to various body parts and removal of carbon dioxide, ensuring optimum quality of life. Now, more than ever, lung health is of utmost importance. With new Covid variants making the rounds, respiratory health is an essential to good health.
How does Yoga for Lungs Help
Yoga for lungs is one of the best ways to continuously maintain good lung health and even improve it. Many practices improve lung capacity, oxygen supply and circulation. Breath is, in fact, given the most importance in yoga practices. Here are a few ways yoga improves lung health:
Yoga helps you breathe the right way
Very often our breath is shallow and fast. While working or going about our regular task, we are breathing mindlessly. Yoga helps us breathe deeply and into the lungs and diaphragm. Over time, it improves our overall health quality.
Yoga helps us develop the habit of mindful breathing. By breathing mindfully we can relieve the system of stress, anxiety and worries. Better awareness is inculcated and subtle signs or sensations in the body are noticeable too.
Breathing exercises (Pranayama) teaches us to control and retain the breath. It helps us hold the breath for longer, make better use of the oxygen available to us and the release of carbon dioxide.
Yoga strengthens and improves mobility and flexibility of the respiratory muscles. This supports the lungs better and boosts breathing.
Many yogic practices help cleanse the lungs and remove toxins and dirt particles that get stuck to the lining of the airways and lungs.
Yoga Postures for Lung Health
Known as Ustrasana, this posture opens up the chest region, stretches and strengthens the respiratory muscles and induces better breathing.
How to do camel pose:
- Kneel with your hands on your hips. Keep the knees in line with your shoulders.
- As you inhale, arch your back and bring your palms to the ankles.
- Drop the neck back.
- Keep the hips pushed forward and thighs engaged. Hold the postures for a few deep breaths.
This posture is called Bhujangasana and is great for increasing lung capacity. It opens up the lungs, chest and abdomen. It is also good for lung congestion, and those who have asthma, and stretches the muscles.
How to do cobra pose:
- Place the palms flat on the ground below the shoulders. Keep the elbows straight.
- Look down at the mat with the neck neutral.
- Lift the chest from the floor while inhaling and keep the elbows close to the sides. Hold the posture for a few deep breaths.
- Exhale to release and get back to the floor.
Known as Dhanurasana, this is an excellent posture for cleaning the lungs and inducing better breathing. It stretches the muscles, opens up the chest region and strengthens the respiratory system.
How to do bow pose:
- Lie down on the stomach. Now, lift your upper body but let your stomach touch the ground.
- Bend your knees and hold your ankles with your hands.
- Make a firm grip and lift your arms and legs as much as you can.
- Hold onto the posture for a while and take deep breaths.
This posture stretches the body and eases tension from the neck to the hips. It improves flexibility and gives the chest and abdomen muscles a stretch along with moving the spine and connecting the breath.
How to do cat-cow pose:
- Place your hands and knees on the mat and the wrists under the shoulders. The back should be in a tabletop position. The knees should be hip-width apart.
- Inhale and drop the abdomen towards the mat. Lift the gaze towards the ceiling and lift your chin and chest. Keep the shoulder blades away from the ears.
- Move into the cat pose from there by exhaling and drawing the stomach towards the spine and back toward the ceiling. It should look like a cat stretching itself.
- Bring the crown of your head towards the floor.
- Inhale and come to cow pose and exhale and go to cat pose.
- Repeat this a few times.
Half lord of the fishes pose
Known as Ardha Matsyendrasana, this powerful posture opens up the chest region, and expands the oxygen supply into the lungs. It stretches and strengthens the muscles, releasing tightness and toxins.
How to do half lord of the fishes pose:
- Sit with your legs stretched and feet together. Bend your right leg, and then your left foot should go in the corner of your right knee.
- Now take your left hand backward. Stretch your right hand and apply pressure on the knee using your elbow while holding your right foot.
- Put your left hand on the knee and look at the back over your left shoulder.
- Your back should be straight. Hold the posture for a few deep breaths.
Breathing exercises for lung health
One of the most important practices for lung health, Pranayama improves respiration, blood flow and lung efficiency, while also releasing toxins and stress. It induces slower, mindful breathing and improves immunity.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
One of the best practices for lung health, this breathing exercise cleanses the body, relieves stress and balances the body, and increases the resistance of the respiratory tract, and allergies to dust, dirt, etc. It also improves lung capacity when practiced with retention.
Humming Bee (Brahmari)
A very relaxing pranayama, this breathwork relieves stress and tension as well as heaviness. This sound created is extremely soothing. It also improves oxygen supply. Even 8-10 rounds of this practice is very impactful.
Oceans breathing (Ujjayi)
This breathing exercise has a tranquilizing effect on the mind and body. It strengthens the lungs and diaphragm. It also relaxes toxins and improves oxygen supply.
Cleansing practices or Kriyas for lung health
Frontal lobe cleansing (Kapal Bhati)
This practice is helpful in removing blockages from the sinuses, heart and lungs, as well as reducing stress levels, and improving blood circulation and oxygen levels. It builds lung and abdominal strength.
Neti Kriya is a beneficial cleansing practice that boosts immunity. It cleanses the nasal passage and promotes drainage of the sinuses, preventing stasis of mucus and keeping them clean and functional. Regular practice of neti maintains healthy secretory and drainage mechanisms of the entire ear, nose and throat area.
Improving lung health is effective in maintaining overall health and well-being. Take out an hour 3-4 times a week to practice yoga with a seasoned teacher. Such classes will include all kinds of practices that will go a long way in improving health.