Breathing is necessary for survival. When you breathe properly, it reduces stress and boosts your immunity, allowing you to stay healthy. Regular and dedicated Pranayama and Yoga practise is one of the most important ways to improve your breathing capacity and prowess. These two holistic practises offer numerous techniques or asanas to increase one's lung capacity and that of the entire breathing system, lowering the chances of contracting respiratory problems and/or reducing their impact, if they exist. As a result, a thorough, long-term practise of the healing therapies of Pranayama and Yoga should be on everyone's to-do list if they want to stay healthy.
How to know if you have a respiratory issue?
Asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis (TB), bronchitis, and lung cancer are the most common types of respiratory diseases. A majority of respiratory disease symptoms are also fairly common, including shortness of breath, a persistent nagging cough, chest pain, and blood in your sputum, also known as hemoptysis.
It's important to remember that people with asthma typically exhibit symptoms such as coughing with sputum, general tiredness, and a reliance on seasonal changes. On the other hand, common TB patients exhibit symptoms such as cough with sputum, hemoptysis, and weight loss, whereas COPD patients exhibit cough with sputum and major fatigue, which worsens over time if not treated properly. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, please see a lung specialist right away.
How Yoga & Pranayama can help?
Yoga is based on five principles: positive thinking and meditation, relaxation, exercise, Pranayama, and a nutritious diet. Controlled breathing, also known as Pranayama, is a technique known to increase our lung capacity and overall bodily functions through regular practise by controlling inspiration and expiration. The technique makes use of diaphragmatic and abdominal muscles, which improves the human respiratory system. Regular practise of Pranayam techniques such as Kapalbhati, Nadisuddi, Bramhari, Bhastrika, and others has been shown to benefit practitioners. And we must do them on a regular basis if we want healthy lungs that will last a lifetime.
In addition to Pranayama, if one practices the yogic exercises known as Yogic Asanas, the benefits accrued are multi-fold. This form of exercise connects our body to our heart and soul, and puts us back in touch with our inner being. This way, we are the first to know if we are feeling out of balance and unwell, thus we can look at how to rectify the situation. Some of the yoga poses that can be practiced for respiratory issues like TB, asthma; COPD, bronchitis etc are Dhanurasna, Bhujangasana, Matsyasana and Trikonasana. These poses are very effective in lung cleansing and strengthening chest muscles. If one is practicing a layered asana such as Surya Namsakar, it has major detoxifying effects on our internal organs as well as brings about a sense of relaxation.
All of these practises, however, must be combined with healthy eating as part of our daily routine. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and pulses should be consumed on a daily basis and cooked with the appropriate spices for your body dosha type and season. Consuming local seasonal fruits and vegetables also boosts our immunity and helps us fight disease more effectively. While all of this may sound like general advice, our lungs will not be strong on their own unless our overall health is good.
Breathing is the first thing we do instinctively after birth, but when we are confronted with respiratory diseases, that instinct becomes a laborious task. Let us work together to make this activity as simple as possible by utilising alternative therapies.
(Deepak Mittal, Founder, Divine Soul Yoga)