Recurrent attacks of wheezing and breathlessness can develop at any age and with an increasing scenario of pollution, stress, etc., this problem is becoming common especially in developed countries. If one does not treat allergic or inherited tendency for cough and cold, sneezing, sore throat, and hay fever, on time it gets converted into several breathing disorders like adenoiditis, tonsilitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, nasal polyp, laryngitis and pharyngitis and further use of strong medicines can lead to bronchitis and asthma. Yoga is a very popular, safe and effective way to cure these diseases. Yoga asanas simply put pressure on kidneys and help to flush out and cleanse the organs. They also improve your control over anxiety and other stress responses that can narrow the airways. Jal neti, sukha pranayam or easy breath pose, hare pose or shashankaasana, kapal bhati or the cleansing breath, anilom viloma or the alternate nostril breathing, urdhva mukha asna and dirgha pranyam or the complete breath, etc., are some of the yoga exercises which contain healing properties involving a combination of deep and shallow breaths. Read on to know what yoga exercises can help you overcoming breathing problems:
Yoga exercises to combat breathing problems
Jal neti is a nasal yoga technique which involves a little bit of warm water and salt. Place the spout of the pot on one of your nostrils by keeping your head tilted sideways. Do not inhale this water, let it automatically flow from one nostril to the other nostril. Blow your nose for the whole debris and mucous to come out. Repeat the procedure from the reverse nostril and keep your mouth open for the water to flow out of the mouth too. Jal neti is a wonderful technique which clears your nasal passage and is beneficial for people who are prone to cough and cold. Regular practice of this technique cures respiratory disorders like sinusitis, bronchitis, tonsils in a short span of time. Do it under the supervision of an expert.
Sukha pranayam or the easy breath
To perform this exercise, sit in a comfortable meditative pose with your eyes shut, back straight and legs folded on each other. Now take 4 to 5 long breaths, block your right nostril with your right hand’s thumb, inhale slowly with your left nostril and block the left nostril with your right ring finger, exhale through your right nostril removing the right thumb form the right nostril. Repeat 5 to 10 times reversing the process and experiencing an even and equal breathing from both the nostrils. Avoid doing this exercise in a polluted place so that you don’t develop a chest or respiratory tract infection. This exercise balances the breathing rate by reducing stress and anxiety. It also helps in supplying more oxygen to the respiratory system.
The hare pose or shashankasana
Kneel down and sit on your knees, with your toes touching each other and heels flared out. Inhale and raise your hands. While exhaling bring down the head and torso towards the floor and rest your head on the floor or a cushion. Breathe normally and hold the pose for a few seconds, increase the duration to a minute with practice. People suffering from lower back problems and blood pressure should avoid it. This exercise helps in strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles which in turn support our respiratory muscles. This yoga exercise is a powerful stress buster and eradicates problems like sinus, tonsils, bronchitis and asthma.
Bhastrika or the rapid abdominal breathing
Sit calmly on the mat and relax your neck, shoulder and facial muscles and exhale strongly by contracting your abdominal muscles, now inhale passively relaxing your abdominal muscles. Continue to breathe this way, moving your abdomen with slow and steady rhythm, taking 1 breath every 2 seconds. Gradually increase the speed until you are taking 2 breaths a second. Start with 3 sequences of 10 breaths each, adding another 10 each week until you get 30 in each sequence. Take a 20 second break between each sequence. In this exercise lungs are used as a pump clearing the debris from the air passages or nostrils and is also good for nasal diseases, asthma, sinus, swelling of throat, cough and tuberculosis. Avoid this exercise if you are pregnant, menstruating, have high blood pressure and after an abdominal surgery.
The cleansing breath or kapal bhati
Sit straight in a prayer pose with your legs folded on the floor. Inhale passively and lightly and exhale through both the nostrils, contracting the middle and lower abdomen portions. The contractions should be quick, powerful and immediate. Now exhale slowly taking a deep breath. Gradually increase the number of strokes without straining your system from 60 to 100 strokes per minute. Carry out this technique under the guidance of an expert or with a complete awareness only. This exercise opens up the nasal passage and clears the mind and cures nervous disorders. It helps in combating diseases like chronic bronchitis and asthma. This exercise should be avoided by pregnant women, high blood pressure patients and after an abdominal surgery.
The dog pose or urdhva mukha svanasana
This pose resembles a dog in a stretching position. Lie flat on your stomach keeping your feet apart from each other, and toes pointing backwards. Place your palms firmly on the floor on your sides. Inhale and lift your torso and knees off the floor balancing your body weight on your palms and toes, raise your head and look straight. Breathe deeply while stretching and contracting your hip, calf and thigh muscles. Hold the pose for 1 minute and come back to normal exhaling slowly. This asana provides elasticity to the lungs due to expansion of chest, thus allowing the molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide to diffuse between the gaseous external environment and the blood in the alveolar region.
Complete breath or dirgha pranayama
This exercise consists of a combination of all three kinds of breathing i.e. high, mid and low breathing. The air inhaled involves the entire respiratory system in a process of shallow, deep and complete breathing. To perform this exercise, place your palms on your abdomen and inhale deeply as your diaphragm muscle contracts and pulls downward filling the ribcage with air, you could feel an expansion in the size of the ribcage. Now feel the air going further down at the bottom of the lungs. While exhaling, the air travels from your lungs to the space just below the breast bone and the upper abdomen pushes slightly to exhale completely through your nose. This exercise helps in encountering and eradicating all the breathing problems from respiratory tract to the congestion of lungs, throat and nose. Do 10 to 20 rounds of this exercise everyday for best results. This exercise removes stress and calms the mind.