Yogasana is a combination of physical stances and correct breathing practices that are intended to help the body and mind maintain overall equilibrium. According to yoga, ‘breath’ is also noted as ‘prana’, the driving life force behind all energy that controls our life. Breathing in the correct way is crucial in case of any form of yoga, since if not done properly it may get stuck in the body channels and exude immense pain and body ache.
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As the world battles against the lethal coronavirus infection, strengthening the lungs is of utmost importance, now more than ever. Apart from practicing social distancing and maintaining good hygiene, it is also necessary to keep the lungs healthy to evade any infection. Excess phlegm particles in the lungs and respiratory tract can make the body a breeding ground for possible different types of pathogens. With the social distancing and lockdown still in effect, it is perhaps the best time to perform yogasanas as it not only helps in the breakdown of mucous in the lungs but also expels it from the body.
Yogasanas which involve abdominal, thoracic and clavicular breathing effectively help in gaining control of the breath, rectify breathing habits and increase the intake of oxygen. The asanas whether standing, sitting, or lying not only strengthen the back, thigh and stomach muscles but also increase oxygenation and lung capacity. If practiced regularly, these asanas help in refining breathing by lengthening the inhalation and exhalation process, improve the lung muscles, and also help in treating various respiratory disorders like cough and cold, sinus, asthma, etc.
Also Read: Asthma: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Practice these yoga postures to strengthen the muscles of the chest and improve the health and functioning of the lungs:
Sukhasana (Cross-legged Sitting Pose):
Sit in a normal meditation pose. Hold your left wrist with your right hand behind the back. Continue to inhale while pulling your shoulders back and expanding your chest. While bending forward, exhale and try to touch your right forehead to your right knee. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat the steps and continue on the other side by touching your forehead to your left knee.
Sukhasana is pivotal in the case of lung anomalies. It stimulates the blood flow to the lungs and also washes out the harmful toxins from the lung muscles. This asana not only increases your focus and concentration but also helps treat respiratory disorders and cough and cold symptoms. Practising it regularly also reduces stress and anxiety.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose):
Lie flat on your stomach and place your head on the ground. Keep both your hands on either side of your shoulders. Slowly, put pressure on your palms and lift your body up from the torso while stretching your back and belly muscles. Straighten out your arms and keep your shoulder blades pressed against your back. Fix gaze at a point on the ceiling and hold this posture for about 15-30 seconds and exhale as you return to the starting position.
The cobra pose not only improves mental calmness but also strengthens the mind and helps stretch out the chest and lungs. It also helps in soothing sciatica, strengthens the spine and provides relief from asthmatic symptoms.
Matsya Asana (Fish Pose):
Lie on your back and fold your arms underneath your body. Lift your head and chest up, breathe in, and then rest the crown of the head on the ground while arching your back. Maintain the balance of your whole body using your elbows. Inhale and exhale deeply opening up the chest. Maintain this position for as long as you are comfortable.
Touted as “Destroyer of all diseases”, the Fish pose promotes deep breathing by stretching and strengthening the lung muscles. It also supports the body balance and helps in better circulation and distribution of blood throughout the body.
Padma Sarvangasana (Lotus Shoulder Stand):
Start with a supported headstand. While you breathe out, fold your legs and cross them to bring your left ankle onto the right thigh and your right ankle onto the left. Support the back with your hands. Hold this position for a few consecutive breaths or as long as you can hold, unfold your legs and slowly lower your body.
The inverted Lotus pose helps in the proper expansion of the chest and allows easier passage of the air to the lungs. Twisting the upper side of the body acts as a massage for the internal organs, which in turn helps in better expulsion of toxins from the body. It also improves balance and strengthens the reproductive and nervous systems.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist):
Sit straight with your legs stretched out and feet together. Bend your right leg and place the heel of your right foot beside your left hip. Now, take the left leg over your right knee. Place your right hand on your left foot and your left hand behind you. Twist the waist, shoulders, and neck to the left and look over the left side shoulder. Hold the position and continue breathing in and out gently. Slowly come back to the original starting position and repeat in the same manner on the other side.
This asana is extremely beneficial in providing relief from breathing difficulties, stress, and tension. The twisting of the upper side of the body induces deep breathing and thus enhances the muscles of the lung and aids in better circulation of oxygen in the lung cavity. It also helps in boosting the immune system and relieving back pain and stiffness from between the vertebrae.
Apart from the selective yoga postures, the respiratory system can be protected from the ambient threats of various infections and environmental factors by incorporating some herbs in the daily routine.
We bring you 3 such ayurvedic herbs that proactively prevents illness and lung damage by strengthening the lung tissues and fortifying them against threats.
The abundance of anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and expectorant properties in Vasaka plays a pivotal role in treating the common cold, cough and flu symptoms. Not only does it lessen chest and nasal congestion but also gets rid of excess sputum and inhibits nasal discharge.
Call it Kalmegh or Nilavembu, the roots of this incredible ayurvedic herb are intrinsically blessed with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant and immune-stimulatory qualities. These vital properties offer an absolute solution for treating and managing different types of fever, flu, common cold, and other respiratory issues.
Imbued with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Mulethi or Licorice is extremely beneficial for balancing the doshas in the throat cavity, clearing sinus congestion, slackening phlegm deposits from the chest and nasal cavities, and treating bronchitis and other asthmatic conditions. Daily intake of this herb extensively strengthens the lung tissues and enhances lung health.