With the pandemic setting in 2019, we overlooked the importance of a good immune system and our lungs and health in general. Over these two years, people have become shallow breathers and have lost touch with utilising their lungs to meet their full capacities. Breathing exercises these days are an absolute need of the hour.
The immune system manufactures antibodies using them to specifically fight against certain germs that the body comes into contact with. Our immune system protects us from harmful things that could enter our body from the environment surrounding us. While the main task of a healthy immune system is to eliminate detrimental pathogens, viruses, parasites or fungi, our immunity also fights against disease-causing germs that form within our bodies as well.
While vaccines work efficiently to boost any immune system, an easier solution to equip our bodies with enhanced immunity is through healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Strategies like moderating drinking habits, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and minimizing stress not only protect from environmental assaults but also keep your immune system working properly.
But if you're looking to boost your immune system naturally, this article is for you.
Health Benefits Of Breathing Exercises And Yoga Asanas
Simple breathing exercises and yoga asanas can not only offer relief in these testing times but also improve immunity with several long-term health benefits.
- Making good breathing a part of your day can facilitate healing and well being. It impacts wellness by lowering stress, relaxing muscles, and decreasing perspiration.
- Deep breathing exercises may help increase lung capacity.
- By slowing down our breathing and paying attention to the rhythm of our breath, our minds become more focused and our emotions are soothed.
5 Important Breathing Exercises For Immunity
Now that you know the health benefits of breathing exercises for Covid-19, let’s get down to business and learn five of the most important ones that’ll help you with immunity.
Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths. It can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever and is often recommended to those with anxiety and stress.
This exercise can be done in any position. Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of four in your head. Hold your lungs full for the count of four. Exhale deeply through your mouth to the count of four in your head. Hold your lungs empty to the count of 4.
With healthy lungs, your diaphragm does most of the work when you inhale to bring fresh air in and exhale to get carbon dioxide and other gases out of your lungs. This exercise helps to reduce the production of stress hormones.
Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on the surface. Place one hand on the chest and the other hand on the belly, just below the rib cage. Breathe in slowly through the nose with your mouth closed, letting the air in towards the belly. Purse your lips, press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for about two seconds.
You can see Kapalbhati as a warm-up exercise that prepares you for advanced pranayama. Helping in overall detoxification, it activates the diaphragm area, which in turn engages the internal organs and glands in that area.
Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and let your body relax. Ensure your face is relaxed and calm when you do the exercise. Exhale through both the nostrils with a forceful contraction of abdominal muscles.
Gaining more awareness and control over your breathing has an immediate calming effect. Almost like meditation, Anulom Vilom is great for people with asthma as it improves lung function and endurance.
Sit comfortably in an upright position keeping your back straight. Fold your index and middle finger to get the correct mudra. Placing your right thumb on your right nostril, inhale deeply from your left nostril. Now close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale from your right nostril. Repeat the process for as long as you comfortably can.
Often recommended for people with a stuttering habit, it does exactly that, build a good habit of taking control over your body. This breathing exercise cools the body and affects important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulation. It cools and reduces mental and emotional excitation and also encourages the free flow of prana in the body.
To start, sit comfortably in an easy pose with a straight spine and neck in line. After closing your eyes, open your mouth and make an ‘O’ shape with your lips, no need to make your lips too tight. Curl your tongue round at the sides and project from your mouth slightly, making a smaller O with your tongue. Practice a long, smooth and controlled inhalation through the rolled tongue. After inhalation, draw the tongue in, close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
Types Of Yoga Asanas For Immunity
Covid-19 is an inflammatory disease that directly affects your lungs. Yoga is already known to provide immunity from inflammatory and stress-related diseases. Here are three yoga asanas to boost immunity that you should practice regularly.
Vrikshasana posture replicates the graceful, steady stance of a tree. It helps those who are suffering from sciatica. The standing tree pose is another easy and effective yoga pose that will improve balance, stability and immunity. This pose leaves you in a state of rejuvenation. It stretches the legs, back and arms, and invigorates you.
All that you need to do is stand upright, bend your right knee and place your right foot above your left knee. Use your arms to maintain balance. You can either hold a namaste over your head or at your chest. Repeat with the other leg and you’re done.
Salamba Bhujangasana or the sphinx pose is great for beginners who are trying to make their way into daily yoga exercises. This yoga asana helps strengthen the spine and stimulates the abdominal organs. This yoga posture also helps in improving blood circulation while relieving the body of stress.
Relax your body and start by lying on your stomach with your toes stretched out. Next, lift the upper half of your body slowly using your arms. This pose is exactly like the cobra pose, only done with bent elbows instead of straight.
Matsyasana or the fish pose helps in releasing tension from the shoulders and opens up the chest completely. It also helps in dealing with respiratory problems and is helpful with asthma and bronchitis. And of course, just like having fish has many benefits, the matsyasana aids the immune system and improves blood circulation in the body.
Start by lying on your back and then slowly lift your chest while keeping your head and lower body on the ground. You can do this asana cross-legged or with your knees bent, depending on your comfort level.
Practising these asanas and pranayamas will not only strengthen your immunity system but also improve your lung capacity. Make sure to be consistent with these yoga exercises for immunity and your body will thank you for it.
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