These 6 breathing exercises will help your lungs become stronger
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:
- They detoxify the body
- They improve oxygenation
- They help you relax
- They reduce stress
- They improve concentration
- They improve energy levels
- They help you sleep better
Here are some easy breathing exercises you can start with
- Diaphragmatic breathing
Sit straight with support or lie on your back. Put one hand on your chest and other on your belly. Breathe in through your nose. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains still. Exhale slowly for about two seconds and your stomach should move inwards. Repeat.
- Pursed lip breathing
Sit in the same position as above. Inhale slowly through your nose and breathe out as slowly as possible through pursed lips, as if pouting or about to blow on something. This should take at least twice as long as it did to breathe in. Repeat.
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.