Amid COVID-19 pandemic, when there is no proper cure or vaccine till date, the best is to take precautions and take care of you. Almost every one of us is staying at home and have penalty of time. One of the best use of this time is to utilize it for some immune boosting exercises or yoga. In usual busyness of life, many of us do not get enough time for exercise or yoga. Thus, this quarantine time is an opportunity to do some healthy activities. In fact, there are numerous yoga breathing techniques for boosting immunity and strengthen body to fight any infection or disease.
The word ‘Yoga’ roots to Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘union’. This is holistic mind-body approach and based on developing a balance and synchronization of mind-body and spirit. The art and science of yoga is about thousand years old.
The mind-body approach of yoga, offers practical methods and techniques for controlling body and mind as well as it rejuvenates body. This holistic approach is known for its numerous health benefits. Yoga techniques are found to be effective for strengthening, rejuvenating body and boosting immunity.
In this article, we have chosen two of effective breathing techniques. As we know, the coronavirus resides and attacks human ‘s respiratory system. COVID-19 has pneumonia-like symptoms. Thus, yoga breathing techniques are effective for boosting immunity and to utilize the maximum of lung capacity for better oxygenation.
Yoga breathing techniques for immunity!
Yoga involves physical exercises (asana), breathing techniques (Pranayama) and meditation. All of these have their own benefits either for physical or mental health.
There are numerous yoga breathing techniques for boosting immunity. Breathing technique in yoga is called as ‘Pranayama’. ‘Prana’ refers to breathe or the vital energy and ‘yama’ means ‘flow’. Thus Pranayama is ‘yoga breathing techniques which improves the flow of vital energy and life force in body.’ This effectively improves the blood oxygenation by utilizing the maximum of lung capacity. Better oxygenation and blood circulation as well as it rejuvenates body and boosts immunity.
Research indicates that yogic breathing is effective way to improve pulmonary functions. Slow breathing at 6 breaths/min effectively increases vital capacity (VC). Moreover, the yogic breathing techniques are beneficial for respiratory system and indicate a positive change in the respiratory physiology.
Another study reveals the positive effect of yoga on a person’s physical as well as psychological well-being. It suggests that Yoga can effectively reverse the expression of inflammatory mediators and to maintain homeostasis. Consequently, it improves the physiological functions of various other systems that are associated to immune system responses. Yoga techniques down-regulate the expression of inflammatory cytokines such as NF-κB and subsequently reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in various chronic stress-induced diseases. Thus, yoga interventions are effective to boost immunity and maintaining overall health.
Effective yoga breathing techniques for immunity
1. Yogic Breath of Fire (Bhastrika Pranayama)
(Other name: Bhastrika Paranayma) Bhastrika is Sanskrit word which means ‘roar’. This breathing technique involves deep inhalation and forceful exhalation which sounds like bellow. The vigorous breathing technique enhances the flow of breath into the lungs. Furthermore, it develops internal warmth on a physical and subtle level. This technique strengthens lung capacity. That is why this technique is very effective for relieving cough, flu, breathing problems, allergies, etc.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale deeply. Exhale vigorously or powerfully through nose.
- Again inhale with same force. Remember you should expand the abdominal muscles to full capacity.
- Observe the movements of diaphragm. It moves downward during inhalation and upwards during exhalation. Try to improve both movements.
- For beginners, 5 rounds of breathing are recommended.
This breathing technique is not suitable for elderly, pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy and asthma patients. Moreover, if your feel nausea or excessive sweating, it indicates something wrong with your practice. Therefore, its better to consult some expert in such case.
2. Alternate nostril breathing
(Other name: Nadi Shodhana Pranayam.) Alternate nostril breathing improves responsiveness and sensitivity to the breath in the nostrils. This breathing technique is ideal for reliving obstructions in respiratory tract. As we know that human brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. Alternate nostril breathing stimulates and invigorate both these hemispheres respectively.
- Sit comfortably. Take a long and deep breath.
- Block the right nostril using your thumb. Breathe 5 times through the left nostril.
- Then unblock the right nostril. Take a deep breath through both nostrils.
- Now block the left nostril with your thumb. Breathe 5 times through right nostril.
- At the end of practice, breathe deeply through both nostrils five times.
Precautions: this breathing technique is not suitable for those having asthma or cardiovascular diseases.
3. Forehead Shining Breathing
(Other name: Kapalbhati Pranayama or Kapalshodhana.) The Sanskrit meaning of this breathing techqnuie is ‘which brings light and awareness to brain’. The breathing practice is believed to be effective for improving lung capacity and to relive respiratory obstructions.
- Sit comfortably.
- Inhale a long and deep breath.
- Exhale through both nostrils with strong and forceful contraction of the diaphragm/ abdominal muscles.
- Again inhale deeply but no strain. keep the abdominal muscles relaxed.
- Exhalation should be forceful.
- Practice 5-10 rounds and then take a deep and relaxed breath.
This breathing technique is snot suitable for pregnant women in their first trimester, patients of asthma and cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
Yoga breathing techniques are effective for removing obstructions in respiratory system. These techniques improve the lung capacity, blood oxygenation, blood circulation. Research reveals the effectiveness of these techniques for boosting immunity and overall health.