As the world battles with the contagious coronavirus, everyone is trying their best to follow proper precautions to keep the infection at bay. But the safety can be enhanced by following a healthy yogic and ayurvedic lifestyle.
According to Yoga, ‘breath’ is the ‘prana’ i.e It is a vital force for the survival of our body. As such, strengthening lung function has become extremely important to enhance breathing and maintain a balance between body and mind.
When breathing is not done properly it blocks the body channels that paves way for anomalies in the system. Yoga asanas have been found incredibly beneficial to strengthen lung functioning and boost oxygen intake. Let’s explore a few of them-
#1 Anulom Vilom Pranayama/Alternate Nostril Breathing
Anulom Vilom is a yoga practice used for controlled breathing that is said to have many benefits on our body. It is an effective way of increasing lung functioning by improving the respiratory system and clearing out nasal passage for smooth circulation of air.
Starting your day with this amazing pranayam can help relax your muscles, promote better sleep, and also reduce sinus inflammation. It can be practiced on an empty stomach before having meals.
HOW TO DO
- Choose a comfortable meditation position. You may sit on a chair or on the ground, whatever suits you the best.
- Keep your spine erect and close your eyes. Let go of any other thoughts and clear your mind.
- Place your thumb on your right nostril to obstruct the airflow and inhale through the left nostril slowly. Let the other hand rest on your knees.
- When your lungs are full, shut both the nostrils and hold your breath for a second.
- Release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Place your middle finger on the left nostril at the same time to obstruct airflow.
- Focus on your breathing and now do it reverse by inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left.
- Keep repeating through alternate nostrils and continue this for 10 minutes.
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#2 Utthita Trikonasana/Extended Triangle Pose
It is a standing strengthening asana that benefits the chest, abdomen, knees, thighs, lower back, shoulders, and neck. It increases the range of motion, muscular coordination, and circulation by stretching the whole body and improving the overall posture.
HOW TO DO
- Stand upright with your legs apart. Keep the distance between your legs a bit more than the distance of your shoulders i.e approx 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Adjust yourself according to your height.
- Just turn the left foot a little inwards and open the right leg outwards at 90 degrees.
- Engage the thighs, keeping pelvic neutral, back erect, and shoulders relaxed. Don’t put strain on the knees.
- Start inhaling and raise your left hand slowly straight above your head. Bring the right hand near the shin and if you need support you can place it there for a second or so.
- Exhale, bend your torso and extend the bending from the hip joint towards your right ankle. Don’t bring the head too close to the shoulder.
- Try bending more till your fingers are at your ankle. Avoid bending the body forward. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds.
- Come back in the standard position slowly and repeat the process on the other side.
Those who have headache issues and low blood pressure should avoid this practice. Also, if you have a heart problem, the hand that goes up should remain on your waist. People with high blood pressure should gaze down instead of looking in front and ones with neck issues should avoid looking up but keep the neck equally elongated towards the front.
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#3 Bhujangasana/Cobra Pose
This asana is a backward bend chest opening asana. When we perform this asana, our hands, shoulders, chest, belly, buttocks, and lungs get affected positively. Not only that it helps in improving the spine posture but also help strengthening your back.
People who have asthma, low energy levels, or suffer from sciatica should perform this yoga as it improves the lung capacity by expanding the rib cage that in turn improves blood circulation and removes fatigue from the body.
HOW TO DO
- This practice is done in a prone position so start by lying down on the abdomen.
- Bring the feet together, hands placed by the side of the body, forehead on the ground, and relax your shoulders.
- Bring the chin forward and bring both hands by the side of the chest.
- When you bring your palm by the side of the chest, your thumb should be aligned to your nipple line. Avoid bringing the palm too forward in the front (your shoulders will drop if you do so) or too backward (puts a strain on the upper middle back region).
- Stretch your legs, allowing the pelvic region to be in contact with the floor and the lower back can lengthen so that there is less compression on it.
- Start lifting your chin, throat, and chest slowly with the support of your palm. Don’t lift your chin higher. Also, make sure that the elbows are inwards and not dropping outwards so that the chest can expand properly.
- Hold the position. Breathe gently and slowly 3 times and gradually with practice increase it to 5 times later.
- Come back to the starting position slowly. Turn your face on one side and relax for a while so that the muscles can come to rest.
Those who have injured their back, have wrist problems (Carpal tunnel syndrome), and especially pregnant women should avoid this asana.
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#4 Camel Pose
Camel pose is a back-bending asana that loosens ups the vertebrae and stimulates the spinal nerves, relieving backache, rounded back, and dropping shoulders.
HOW TO DO
- Stand on your knees with arms at the sides.
- Keep your knees and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lean backward, slowly reaching for the right heel with the right hand and similarly, the left heel with the left hand.
- Push the hips forward, keeping the thighs vertical, and bend the head and spine backward only till comfortable.
- Remain in the final position for as long as is comfortable.
- Return to the starting position by slowly releasing the hands from the heels one at a time.
Those who have severe back ailments should not attempt this asana without the guidance of a competent teacher.
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#5 Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is a very good restorative pose. This Back extension pose also helps relieve the hunch from poor posture and sitting, giving you more flexibility and mobility for daily activities. It helps open the chest for better breathing.
HOW TO DO
- Lie down on your back, fold your knees and keep your feet hip-distance apart on the floor, with knees and ankles in a straight line.
- Keep your arms beside your body, palms facing down.
- Inhaling, slowly lift your lower back, middle back, and upper back off the floor; try to touch the chest to the chin, supporting your weight with your shoulders, arms, and feet. Feel your bottom firm up in this pose. Both the thighs are parallel to each other and the floor.
- If you wish, you could interlace the fingers and push the hands on the floor to lift the torso a little more up, or you could support your back with your palms.
- Keep breathing easily.
Avoid doing this pose if you are suffering from ulcers, hernia, neck and back injuries.
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Prioritize Your Lung Health
Maintaining your lung health during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic time is the best defense to fight the infection. One should not ignore the role it plays to keep us strong, especially when it comes to the distribution of oxygen in our body. 5% of the critical cases included severe lung damage and deaths because of the same! So, prioritize your lungs because they are keeping you alive. Also, if you are not feeling well, consult a doctor online as soon as possible to minimize uncertain risks.
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