International Yoga Day: 11 breathing exercises for healthy lungs

Breathing exercises are known to reduce stress, anxiety, improve the functioning of lungs and our overall well being.

author_img Team Indulge Published :  19th June 2021 03:25 PM   |   Published :   |  19th June 2021 03:25 PM
Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are known to reduce stress, anxiety and improve the functioning of lungs. (Image courtesy: Fazlani Natures Nest)

Breathing exercises are known to reduce stress, anxiety, improve the functioning of the lungs and our overall well being. And, there are various types of breathing exercises, from abdominal breathing to dog breathing. If you are interested in knowing various kinds of breathing exercises and how they can help one improve their overall health, we have got an expert to help you out. 

Ahead of International Yoga Day, Dr Tarannum Revanikar, who specialises in Naturopathy and Yoga at Fazlani Natures Nest, shares 11 types of breathing exercises and their benefits: 

1. Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is practised by enhancing the action of the diaphragm and minimizing the action of the ribcage. Movement of the diaphragm signifies that the lower lobes of the lungs are being utilized. The proper use of the diaphragm causes equal expansion of the alveoli, improves lymphatic drainage from basal parts of the lungs, massages the liver, stomach, intestines, and other organs that lie immediately beneath it, thus exerting a positive effect on the cardiac functions and coronary supply, and improving oxygenation of the blood and circulation. 

Abdominal breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. However, due to tension, poor posture, restrictive clothing, and lack of training, it is often forgotten. 

2. Thoracic breathing utilizes the middle lobes of the lungs by expanding and contracting the ribcage. It expends more energy than abdominal breathing for the same quantity of air exchange. 

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3. Clavicular breathing occurs after the thoracic inhalation has been completed. To absorb a little more air into the lungs, the upper ribs and the collar bone are pulled upwards by the muscles of the neck, throat, and sternum. This requires maximum expansion on inhalation and only the upper lobes of the lungs are ventilated. 

4. Yogic breathing combines the previous three techniques. It is used to maximize inhalation and exhalation. Its purpose is to gain control of the breath, correct poor breathing habits and increase oxygen intake. 

5. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is the basic pattern of alternate nostril breathing. It increases awareness of and sensitivity to the breath in the nostrils. Minor blockages are removed and the flow of breath in both nostrils becomes more balanced. Breathing through the left nostril tends to activate the right brain hemisphere; breathing through the right nostril activates the left hemisphere. It has calming effects and relieves anxiety, improves concentration, and stimulates ajna chakra. This establishes a calming rhythm for the brain and heart, assisting people with cardiovascular and nervous disorders specifically, and stress-related conditions generally. The respiration becomes more efficient because the air flow is smoother and less turbulent. This ratio helps people with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. 

6. Hands in and out breathing is done with both the palms together, while inhaling, the arms are spread sideways horizontally and while exhaling, arms are brought together in front of the chest with palms touching each other.

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7. Hands Stretch Breathing:

- Horizontal: While inhaling, the hands are twisted and stretched in front of the body with palms facing outwards and stretched fully at shoulder level. This is reversed while exhaling.

- Forehead Level: The same movements are repeated by stretching the arms above forehead level. The arm movements should be synchronized with the breath.

- Above Your Head: Again, the same practice is repeated by stretching the arms vertically above the head. While moving hands up and down for inhaling and exhaling, palms are brought close to the nose tip. The arm movements should be synchronized with the breath.

8. Ankles stretch breathing is done by standing with a fixed gaze on a point. While inhaling, the hands and ankles are stretched and while exhaling, the hands and heels are brought down. The arm movements should be synchronized with the breath.

9. Tiger breathing is done by keeping the arms flat on the floor in line with shoulders and arms, thighs, and heels about shoulder width apart (standing on all-fours). While inhaling the head is raised up while simultaneously lowering the spine making it concave and while exhaling, the spine is arched upwards, and head bent downwards. 

10. Dog breathing is done while sitting like a dog placing palms on the ground besides the knees, practicing rapid, forceful inhalation, and exhalation by expanding and contracting the abdomen vigorously. 

11. Rabbit breathing is imitating sitting like a rabbit with knees together and bent forward with forearms resting on the floor, keeping elbows by the side of the knees and head at one hand length from the ground, the tongue is protruded partially. Using the upper part of the chest and panting quickly like a rabbit the expansion and contraction of the chest muscles is felt.