When yoga finds its way into a conversation, many focus on the weight loss and workout experience of the art. People often tend to overlook the impact of Yoga to achieve healthy wellness and a sharpened mind. During the pandemic, many people are bound to do Yoga at home, since classes are still closed in many parts of the world. The human respiratory system is always at risk, even more so now with the epidemic. Therefore, we need to know how to strengthen our lungs and treat breathing problems through yoga. Here’s how you do it.
Importance of breathing
Breathing is something most never think about, which begs the question “what’s the point of being conscious about it?”. As you are breathing every moment, you may not give much importance to it. However, it is an undeniable fact that breathing is the core activity of literally every exercise you try. And, it has a significant impact on how your external activities are going to affect your brains and vice versa.
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For example, when breathing becomes erratic, the body is most likely pushing its limits - whether that be for fitness or exhaustion.
Yoga poses are designed to ensure that calm breathing can center yourself and a state of intentional peacefulness can improve the mind and body. The ultimate goal is for each breath to be effortless while performing poses that can help catalyze the process.
Meditation may be one of the ingredients for effective breathing, but much comes from the basics of knowing how to inhale and exhale.
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What we need to know about the breathing cycle
Often considered the first part of a breathing cycle, using your diaphragm and intercostal muscles deliberately is where many may have overlooked. When the diaphragm is used as a tool to let air into the lungs, ribs, and sternum should be raised as an indicator of an effective deep breath. Normally, poses that expose the front of the body are intended to focus on proper inhales so that your body has the full range of motion when it comes to taking the first step. This is why many of the breath-focused poses never have a person facing down or arching his/her body forward.
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Interestingly, inhaling takes effort, while exhilaration is labeled as the passive process of a breathing cycle. To breathe out is effortless and involves the relaxation of the diaphragm and respiratory muscles. This is primarily the part of the cycle that highlights the sense of calmness often seen in yoga. Each pose is deliberate, meaning that the wrong technique could easily lead to breathing constraints, while proper posture will introduce a sense of serenity.
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Common mistakes during breathing
Yes, it is indeed possible to make mistakes even when it comes to breathing. One of the most important rules to breathing in yoga is to pace yourself between inhaling and exhaling. When transitioning from one to the other too quickly, the air gets cycled too quickly and your respiratory muscles do not have an optimal time of contraction before relaxation. Much like any muscle that needs to be trained, this is no different.
During this time, it is possibly the best time to move and this coupled can be applied beyond yoga as well. Moving during an inhale will stifle your breathing pattern and cause uneasy heaving which is the furthest thing from breathing calmly.
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Yoga poses to strengthen lungs and improve breathing
The merging of physical stances and the proper method of breathing is called Yogasana. This is the fundamental building block that makes for experienced yogis who can perfectly balance the body and the mind. While breathing is often referred to as ‘prana’, identifying which 'Yogasana' poses is critical to ensure that you’re getting the optimal opportunities for healthy breathing.
The trick is to get into positions that usually don’t force too much exhaustion out of you so that you can concentrate on pacing each breath. It means that leaning towards cardiovascular activity could be more of a distraction if weight loss isn’t the goal. Here are a few go-to poses to immediately work on your breathing.
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This is possibly one of yoga’s most iconic poses on posters and website pages. It is done by holding your left wrist with your right hand behind your back and leaning forward. It may feel strange to do it for newcomers, but the pose helps with blood flow to the lungs and also increases concentration. Better yet, this pose has been known to also ease the respiratory effects of common coughs and colds.
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Otherwise known as the Cobra pose, this does wonders for the back if done slowly and with a proper warm-up. The first step is to keep both hands on the ground while laying on your stomach. Slowly, you will want to straighten your arms and bend your back upwards and face the ceiling. It has been said that this pose does well for mental calmness and also eases the mind while strengthening it. The extension of the spine helps relieve asthmatic symptoms such as the congested chest.
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It is also called the Fish Pose. The first step is to put your arms under your body. With you lying down and your chest facing up, breathing in while arching your back will allow your breathing to strengthen lung muscles. It provides better circulation and blood flow. It is not one of the most mainstream poses and certainly one to add to your routine if you are looking for the best poses for improving your breathing.
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Vasisthasana is another flu killer that is known for being one of the best poses around for anti-inflammatory and antibiotic purposes. However, it may appear that tilting sideways with your arm up might be uncomfortable. Still, it is one of the best poses to moderate your breathing and clear the lungs from phlegm congestion. If you are in a pinch and are looking for one that can help with short-term effects, this pose is definitely worth a try.
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So far we have discussed a bunch of breathing techniques and yoga poses to strengthen lungs and ease breathing problems. However, it is recommended to take advice from a doctor and a Yoga expert for choosing the right pose for you.