Yoga as we know has gained so much of popularity in the recent past. Well, there surely has to be a reason for that…
It happens to be one of the most ancient practices the world has ever known, it is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘union’. The practice of yoga includes disciplining and training of the mind and the body. Yoga has a holistic approach to wellness and helps in coping with issues related to the mind and body.
It helps in achieving mindfulness, begins to heal us mentally as well as spiritually in some instances, a huge part of practicing yoga is about being able to get rid of those emotional blockages, it enhances body movement and encourages flexibility and most importantly promotes improved breathing.
On that note let’s talk about the influence yoga has on our respiratory system. Studies suggest that by the age of 25 our lungs reach the optimal growth they are to attain. An adult human being can hold up to 6 liters of air, which also happens to be our total lung capacity, on an average one tends to take 12-16 breaths in a minute. A breath which includes an inhale and an exhale is one respiratory cycle and over a period of time the health of our lungs starts to see a decline.
There could be various reasons as to why this happens. Factors such as age play a vital role in this declining graph, ageing is something none of us can defy, however what we can do is to make it easier for our body to cope with, here is where yoga comes into the picture.
Yoga can increase aerobic and anaerobic endurance, which in turn improves our cardiovascular and respiratory health. Our cardiovascular system and our respiratory system are codependent on each other, for one to function perfectly, the other also has to be in a fully working condition. Yoga asans can largely help in strengthening chest muscles and expanding the capacity of the lungs which directly influences the intake of oxygen.
Pranayam or breathing exercises have a large role to play when it comes to improving stress, the quality of sleep, the expansion of our chest wall, breathlessness and other conditions such as asthma. On some days even a simple sigh goes a long way.
Here are some pranayams that can be practiced on a daily basis and actually help you achieve all of the aforementioned.
Naadi Shodhan is a breathing technique which requires alternative nostril breathing, it can be a great exercise to relax our system in a stressful situation and also helps in the maintenance of our respiratory health. It is best practiced while seated and preferably during the early morning hours.
Ujjayi Breath means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. Ujjayi Breath encourages expansion of the lungs, and by focusing your attention to your breath, it can assist in calming the mind.
Bhastrika Pranayam is a great way to cleanse your nasal passage, energize your mind and body and help improve circulation while reducing stress. It is best practiced on an empty stomach and supposed to be slow paced rather than doing it too fast which can make you feel overstimulated. People who have undergone a surgery recently or is pregnant or has complains of high blood pressure should avoid this one.
In addition to this lets now move on to asans or postures. Postures are instrumental when it comes to the health of our respiratory system.
Bhujangasan commonly known as the cobra pose, is a reclining back-bend posture which stimulates the muscles of our chest, making them stronger and also stretches and opens up the muscles of our lungs.
Dhanushasan or bow pose helps in strengthening the back, abdomen and chest muscles, increasing flexibility and blood flow, making it an ideal asan for our lungs.
Matsayasan or the fish pose is a back bending posture which stretches our neck, abdomen and muscles between the ribs. It stimulates deep breathing which enhances the flow of oxygen.
In the recent times, courtesy COVID-19 and the rise in the levels of pollution we have understood the importance of having healthy lungs. Our body being the temple that it is, makes it our responsibility to take care of it. Inculcating habits such as practicing Yoga can definitely be a defining step in our lives.
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