Make Sure Your Lungs Get That Extra Love: Breathing Exercises to Improve Lung Functioning

  • 9 months ago
4 minute read.
Make Sure Your Lungs Get That Extra Love: Breathing Exercises to Improve Lung Functioning

Your lung capacity is the capability of the lungs to hold a particular amount of air in it. It decreases over time due to various factors like age or certain illnesses like COPD that lead to difficulty in breathing.

Moment of truth: Our lungs need daily care and consideration like the rest of our body parts. Breathing nourishes every cell in the body by supplying oxygen to it.

The good thing is- Breathing exercises can help to keep your lungs healthy and supply an adequate amount of oxygen to the body.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress in the body. Deep breathing, like any other type of exercise, works because it facilitates muscle contraction and expansion. Controlled breathing is the most basic form, including taking a series of deep breaths and holding them. This rarely takes any time, needs no equipment, and can be performed by anyone.

You can practice rhythmic breathing for as long as you want. You can even practice it at night, especially when you find it hard to sleep.

STEPS

  1. Lie down on your back and start by gently flexing your muscles beginning from the feet and heading up to your scalp. Flexing will help relax your body.
  2. Begin by inhaling slowly. You will feel the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During deep breathing ensure that your stomach is moves outwards and your chest remains still.
  3. Repeat this breathing cycle for 4-5 minutes. Don’t force any breath. Inhale and exhale only until your body can manage. Focus on making it a calming process.
  4. After 5 minutes, close your eyes and start imagining that you are resting at a beautiful place and enjoying the view.
  5. Now try to align your breathing pattern with your peaceful imagination. For instance, if you are imagining you are on an island, breathe in when the waves approach towards you and breathe out when they drift away.

Kapalabhati

The breathing technique of Kapalbhati (Skull Shining Breathing) involves short and strong forceful exhalation, accompanying abdominal movements, and inhalation that takes place spontaneously while one performs this practice.

STEPS

  1. Start by sitting with legs crossed (sukhasana), or if you sit on a chair, that is fine too.
  2. Your hands should be on your knees such that your palms face upwards or you can also place your hands one over the other to maintain a firm focus.
  3. Keep your spine straight and head in line with the spine.
  4. Take a deep breath via both nostrils filling up the chest with air and let it expand.
  5. Now, exhale the air with a little force.
  6. Feel the air flowing out of your body by placing your hand on your lower abdomen.
  7. Repeat for 3-4 times.

Bhastrika Pranayama

The Yogic Breath of Fire or Bhastrika is pranayama that might seem similar to Kapalbhati but is different. It is good for revitalizing the body and the mind and is great for people with depression and anxiety.

STEPS

  1. Commence by sitting in sukhasana or vajrasana
  2. Close your fist, fold your arms, and place them near your shoulders.
  3. As you inhale deeply and slowly, raise your hands upwards and release your fists by opening them.
  4. Breath out with a little force, bring your arms down next to your shoulder position, and make a fist again.
  5. Continue the process for about 20 breaths.
  6. Place your palms on the thighs and let your body relax.
  7. Breathe normally and focus on the state of calmness.
  8. Repeat the process and perform 2 more rounds.

Shank Blowing

Conch shells or shanks are a significant part of various cultures as they have were used in ancient traditions and celebrations. And not just that, did you know that blowing shank offers healing benefits?  It improves digestive, respiratory, endocrine, and circulatory systems. This is an excellent technique for massaging heart muscles as well as other internal organs.

STEPS

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. (Siddhasana or Padmasana or Sukhasana)
  2. Keep your neck and spine straight.
  3. Extend your neck, close your eyes, open your mouth, inhale as much air as possible, and fill your lungs.
  4. As you breathe in, try not to raise your shoulders. As you do so, your stomach will expand a bit.
  5. Now use the strength in your diaphragm to blow out air through your mouth. Keep your lips pressed and closed while doing so.
  6. Your lips will vibrate a bit and causing the shank to make a horn-like sound. Tightening your cheeks as if you are smiling can make the process better.
  7. You can adjust the pitch by loosening your lip and sliding your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
  8. Remember to breathe deeply each time you blow the shank. Do not continue if you feel tired.

Balloon Exercise

Blowing balloons stimulates the intercostal muscles that are responsible for expanding your diaphragm and ribcage. This simple process helps you exercise lung functioning by taking in oxygen during inhalation and exhaling carbon dioxide as you breathe out. Balloon exercises can be performed anytime, anywhere.

STEPS

  1. You can simply practice this technique by blowing up a few balloons each day.
  2. Try to inhale through the nose and exhale completely through the mouth.

Or

  1. Think of your belly like a balloon
  2. Place your hand on your stomach
  3. Inhale through your nose and hold your breath for 2 seconds
  4. Breathe out of your mouth as if deflating a balloon
  5. As you exhale and inhale as if you were blowing a balloon, feel the stomach falling and rising
  6. Repeat the process 5-6 times

BOTTOM LINE

We often forget the importance of our lungs until we face trouble in the basic phenomenon of our body i.e breathing.

If you have a serious illness like COPD, you should not skip your routine medical visits, and if you are unable to go out, consult a doctor virtually (online visits) on The Wellness Corner. Also, consult a fitness trainer before performing any of these exercises and get a customized plan to elevate healing.

Head to the Wellness TV to access expert-curated content on various health and wellness aspects including guided workouts and meditation.

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