LifestyleYoga

How to increase oxygen level & lungs capacity: Breathing exercise

INTRODUCTION

During this pandemic situation we humans have realised how much important it is to take care of our health in general. The lung and heart are the two vital organs in the body functioning 24/7 effectively for us to live healthily. People with a compromised respiratory system get triggered upon inhaling/ breathing in harmful toxins and pollutants and show symptoms like coughing, wheezing and watery eyes. With the spreading of corona virus, it is more important for all of us to safeguard the lungs and boost the respiratory system and shield it from harmful pollutants as well as deadly virus.

WHAT IS LUNGS CAPACITY

The lungs are the organs of respiration, which carries oxygenated blood to every organ in the body and eliminates the waste matter out of the cells via expiration/ breathing out. Lungs are constantly working filtering, protecting and transforming the air free from pollutants and other environmental pollutants.

Lung capacity or total lung capacity (TLC) is the volume of air in the lungs upon the maximum effort of inspiration i.e our normal breathing pattern. Among healthy adults, the average lung capacity is about 6 liters.

WHAT IS OXYGEN LEVEL OF AN INDIVIDUAL?

Blood oxygen level is the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. Most of the oxygen is carried by red blood cells, which collect oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to all parts of the body.The body closely monitors blood oxygen levels to keep them within a specific range, so that there is enough oxygen for the needs of every cell in the body.

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM AS PER AYURVEDA

In Ayurveda, Prana is the vital life force. Prana can be in a way co-related to the energy of oxygen that we breathe and is responsible for life. Prana, the energy from breathing, is preeminent in Ayurvedic and Yogic thinking. The breath, along with food, supplies almost all of the energy to run the body, and without prana, nothing happens. Prana, a sub-dosha of vata(air element), flows inward, but, of course, that inward breath must be balanced with exhalation.

As per Ayurveda, the respiratory system is governed by Vata(air element). Imbalance of Vata dosha causes the respiratory disorder. There are a number of references to respiratory disorder and their management mentioned in the classics.

WHAT IS BREATHING EXERCISE AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT?

Breathing is something we do on a daily basis. The body, in a living state, breathes involuntarily whether we are awake, sleeping, or actively exercising. Breathing is living. It is a vital function of life. In yoga, we refer to this as pranayamaPrana is a Sanskrit word that means life force and ayama means extending or stretching. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force. It is also known as the extension of breath. Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function properly. So it’s no surprise that research shows that a regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body and increase overall physical and mental health.

4 MOST EFFECTIVE PRANAYAMA EXERCISES

1.NadhiSodhanaaka Anuloma Viloma

Nadhi sodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing, is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body, it’s believed that this breath can also purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration.

How to do it: Nadhi sodhana can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body.

2.Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. It’s a pranayama exercise as well as an internal kriya, or cleansing technique. Practitioners of kapalabhati believe that this breath will help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body.

How to do it: Start by sitting in a comfortable seat with a tall, straight spine, and exhale completely. Inhale briefly through both nostrils, then sharply exhale (again out of your nose) while pulling your navel in toward your spine. The exhalation is short and quick, but very active, while the inhalation is short and passive. Again, pull your navel in as you exhale and soften it on the inhalation. Do one round of 30 (counting your exhalations) and rest for a minute with some deep breaths in between. Repeat. If this seems strenuous, start with 15 and gradually work your way up.

3.Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. This breath is often used in asana (posture) practice, especially in ashtanga and vinyasa classes. Ujjayi encourages full expansion of the lungs, and, by focusing your attention on your breath, it can assist in calming the mind.

How to do it: Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine. Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine. Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils. This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or gentle rush of air. You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times.

4. Sitali Pranayama

Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates.

How to do it: Roll your tongue until the outer edges touch, forming a tube. If you can’t curl your tongue, make an oval shape with your mouth, keeping your tongue flat. Inhale through your mouth, taking in all the air that you can. It may make a hissing sound. After inhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and seal your lips. Feel the coolness of the inhalation in your month then exhale through your nose. Repeat five to ten times or as needed.

Proning exercises –

PRONING is the process of turning a patient with precise, safe motions, from their back onto their abdomen (stomach), so the individual is lying face down. Proning is a medically accepted position to improves breathing comfort and oxygenation. It is extremely beneficial in COVID-19 patients with compromised breathing comfort, especially during home isolation. This helps a lot in easy breathing and increasing the oxygen level of an individual.

POSITIONING OF PILLOW

One pillow below the neck One or two pillows

below the chest through upper thighs

Two pillows below the sole

acem14067-fig-0001-m.jpg

For Self-Proning:

You will need 4-5 Pillows.

Regular alterations in lying position

Best is to not spend more than 30 minutes in each position

Positions:

  1. 30mins – 2 hours laying on the belly
  2. 30mins – 2 hours laying on your right side
  3. 30mins – 2 hours laying on the belly
  4. 30mins – 2 hours laying on your left side
  5.  

CONCLUSION –

Breathing is one of the most natural things we do as humans. It is a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. Taking time to focus on the breath allows us to pause from daily stresses, physical symptoms, and emotions that have taken over the mind. It is in that moment where we focus on the breath that we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being. These are just a few wonderful reasons to invite a pranayama practice into your daily routine.

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About author
Meet Nathani is completing his graduation in Gujrat Ayurved University. He is a nutrition researcher and passionate about the role of nutrition in health. Meet holds good knowledge over how nutrition , exercise and dietary supplements affects human body.
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