Our breath is with us from the moment we are born to the moment we die. However we always take our lung function and breathing for granted. Our lung functions are better described by lung volumes and lung capacities.
Lung volumes and capacities are medical terms to basically define the amount to air in our lung at different degrees of inspiration or expiration. As we age, our lung capacity and lung function start to decrease slowly—beginning typically in our mid-20s. To make matters worse, conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can significantly speed up these reductions in lung capacity and functioning leading to difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath.
Thankfully we have breathing exercises to keep our lungs healthy!
These are the many benefits of doing breathing exercises
An important part of yoga, breathing exercises are essential not only because they help calm the mind—but also because they come with a plethora of benefits, like these:
Here are some easy breathing exercises you can start with
3. Breath out with huff cough
Place yourself in a comfortable seated position. Inhale deeper than a normal breath. With the help of your tummy muscles blow the air out in three even breaths while making the sounds “ha, ha, ha.” Imagine you’re blowing onto a mirror to cause it to steam.
Come down on all fours and cross your ankles. Keep your palms ahead of your knees with your fingers spread wide. Inhale deeply through your nose and keep your eyes wide open. At the same time, open your mouth and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down towards your chin. Contract the muscles at the front of your throat and feel the breath passing through it, as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound. You can concentrate to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose. Do this breath 2 to 3 times.
5. Anulom vilom
Sitting in crossed legged position, inhale your first breath through the left nostril while closing your right one with your thumb. This is called anuloma. Exhale through the right nostril while closing left nostril. This is called viloma. Again inhale through right nostril and continue. Remember the ratio of inspiration to expiration is 1:2.
6. Rib stretch breathing
Stand upright and exhale to your maximum limit. Then gradually breathe in, filling your lungs as much as possible. Hold your breath for 10-20 seconds, or for as long as you are able to then exhale slowly and return to a relaxed position.