If you suffer from breathing difficulties, you are standing at the doorway of many complications and health risks. One such complication is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a set of progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases that can make life difficult.
Easily modified as high or low impact, yoga can be an excellent form of exercise for anyone with COPD. COPD is a chronic condition that is caused by inflammation in the lungs which obstructs the airflow. Some of its symptoms are difficulty in breathing, mucus production, wheezing, and cough.
Yoga keeps your lungs healthy and strong and improves your breathing and oxygen intake. Take your time with each posture, and try to hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat this 2-3 sets or as much as you feel comfortable enough to do.
Here are some yoga techniques that can help you if you have COPD
1. Shalabasana (locust pose)
Lie on your stomach hands palms under thighs
Inhale completely, hold your breath, and then lift both legs up
Keep your knees straight and feet together
Rest your chin or forehead on the ground
2. Madhyam-gathi marjari (Medium-speed cat pose)
Form a table with your body by placing your hands and knees down, coming on all fours.
Hands should be under your shoulders and knees under the pelvis, in line with your palms
Inhale and curl your spine causing a dip in your mid-back and look upwards
Exhale and arch the spine and look down, towards your navel region
Curl and arch your spine alternatively at medium speed as you inhale and exhale
3. Ustrasana (camel pose)
Come down on your knees and bring your hands on your hips
Bend back and slide your hands over your feet
Keep your neck in a neutral position.
Exhale and slowly return to the initial pose.
Do not hold this posture for a long duration.
4. Hasta uttanasana (raised arms pose)
Begin by standing straight in samasthithi
Lift your arms up ensuring that your palms face each other.
Keep your head in between your arms and gently bend back.
Keep your knees straight, your eyes should remain open.
Pranayama breathing techniques can be very helpful in strengthening your respiratory muscles thereby managing symptoms of breathlessness. These exercises need to be practised at a slow speed:
Hold Prapthi Mudra and place your palms on your knees facing up
Inhale normally and focus on exhaling with a short, rhythmic and forceful breath
You can use your stomach to forcefully expel all the air from the diaphragm and lungs by compressing it
Inhale automatically as you decompress your stomach
It has been observed that COPD patients are at a higher chance of contracting heart diseases, cancer and other such conditions. Yoga can be a helpful practice in managing COPD, helping patients attain good control and quality of life. The gentle stretching poses in yoga help to improve strength and flexibility, while breathing exercises are useful tools to help you tide over any attacks of breathlessness. These are all simple techniques which can be done in the comfort of your home.