Your daily chai-sutta break at home or during physical office life is a relaxing and calming time. Gossiping about the latest drama, complaining about your assignments or just taking a breather during your long work hours feels complete only with a smoke break. But did you know that indulging in cigarettes on a daily basis can harm your body? Not only can smoking shorten your life but it can speed ageing, causing changes in your skin, hair, and teeth that may be irreversible. Tobacco contains more than 7,000 harmful chemicals. When a person inhales tobacco, all organs or systems of the body get affected, especially the lungs.
Well, you can’t eliminate the harm done to your lungs, but you can improve its health. You can maintain a healthy pair of lungs by practising some basic yoga poses. Yoga can help rejuvenate and fill your lungs full of life.
To know more about how yoga can help your lungs, TC46 connected with Dr Preyas Vaidya Consultant-Pulmonologist & Sleep Medicine Expert, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. Here he also shares a few yoga poses that one can practise
Tobacco Affects The Lungs
Smoking causes inflammation in the bronchi i.e. injury and swelling to breathing tubes and air sacs i.e. alveoli. The damage keeps increasing with the number of cigarettes, the smoking pattern and the duration. Smoking also presents a greater risk of developing and dying from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). Click here to know how smoking can harm your overall health.
Smoking Can Diminish Lung Capacity
Some of the signs of diminished lung capacity are:
- Persistent cough
- Cough with expectoration
- Breathlessness that starts on exertion and worsens as per the severity
Yoga Can Help Improve Lung Function
Detoxifying a smoker’s lungs may not be completely possible. However, quitting smoking will give the best results. It slows the progressive decline in lung capacity and reduces inflammation and helps the lungs recover. The earlier the smoker quits, the better, as recovery takes months. In addition to quitting, yoga can also help. Yoga can help in improving breathing. Yoga improves muscle tone (including respiratory muscle tone) and inspiratory and expiratory capacity due to improved muscle tone
4 Yoga Poses To Improve Smokers’ Lungs
Some of the asanas which can improve breathing are:
It helps in cleansing the lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system. Regular practice strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
How To Do It:
- Sit in a relaxed position while keeping your back straight in a room that is devoid of any disturbances.
- Close your eyes and inhale deeply.
- While keeping your mouth closed, exhale in short and sharp bursts till you cannot exhale any more air.
- Beginners may perform repetitions of 60 exhalations per minute and graduate to 100 exhalations per minute.
- Remember to stop Kapalabhati the moment you feel even the slightest discomfort.
2. Anulom Vilom
Anulom Vilom is a form of breathing exercise involving keeping one nostril closed and breathing alternately through each nostril.
How To Do It:
- Sit cross-legged on the floor without bending your back.
- Place the left palm on your left knee.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply from your left nostril.
- Now release your right thumb and use your right ring finger to close your left nostril.
- Exhale gradually and evenly to release all the air from your right nostril.
- Now inhale from your right nostril while keeping the left nostril blocked.
- Release the ring finger and close your right nostril using the thumb.
- Exhale all the air through your left nostril.
- Repeat this several times till you feel your sinuses getting cleared.
It can stimulate the spine, rib cage as well as lungs, thereby relieving signs of fatigue and anxiety. The dorsal region and the torso are fully expanded hence, breathing becomes fuller.
How To Do It:
- Begin by lying down on your back with both your palms placed beneath the buttocks.
- The legs should be kept straight in a relaxed position.
- While taking a deep breath, elevate your chest and shoulders and at the same time draw your elbows closer
- Rest your body weight on your elbows and place the top of your head on the ground.
- The neck should be completely extended and shoulders should arch backwards.
- Continue breathing gradually up to 5-10 counts before returning to the original resting pose.
It has proven to be beneficial for people with respiratory disorders. It requires an active process of inhalation and exhalation; therefore, it helps the lungs to remain constantly ventilated and the blood oxygenated.
How To Do It:
- Lie down on your chest with your elbows close to your body, palms facing down.
- On an inhalation, slowly straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor and keep reclining back. Your navel should be touching the floor.
- Hold the posture for 15-30 seconds and then gradually exhale and come back down.
Click here to learn more yoga poses for the lungs.
Practise Yoga At Least 2 Times A Week
The beginners should start under the guidance of a qualified instructor with 1 or 2 sessions per week, and gradually increase it to 2-5 times per week. On an average, 10-20 minutes of yoga a day is still enough to reap the benefits of the practice.
A Healthy Diet Can Aid In Improving Lung Health
When doing yoga to improve your lung health, here are a few more techniques and tricks you can do to improve your lungs.
- Keep your home and workplace clean
- Get plants in your surrounding areas, like aloe vera, areca palm, lad palm, and bamboo
- Indulge in a healthy diet
- Do physical and breathing exercises
- Quit smoking
- Regularly exercise
To learn a few more breathing exercises to improve your lungs, click here.