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Find More Ease and Support the Respiratory System with these Simple Yogic Breath Practices

Last updated on May 9, 2020

Please follow current medical advice

I so love having access to ancient wisdom and healing practices from yogic and other traditions around the world.

Thanks to the internet, we can access so much.

We also have the benefits of modern medicine and while neuroscience is now proving what ancient yogis knew thousands of years ago in terms of neuroplasticity and the benefits of meditation, research around Covid19 is new and evolving day by day.

We hope to have a safe, accessible vaccine as soon as possible but, in the meantime, the more we can do to look after our health and wellbeing, the better.

Corona virus and the respiratory tract

Because Covid19 affects the respiratory tract, I’m sharing some yogic breath practices which you can play with any time anywhere.

This is not instead of the hand washing, social distancing and other medical advice but complementary health practices like yoga can help us take a greater sense of responsibility for our own self care.

By working with the breath over time, we get to know our own natural breath. We become more naturally mindful of changes.

We might even notice infection or changes (in a curious and compassionate rather than overly anxious way) and hopefully get medical care sooner if needed.

We also get to notice fitness levels and respiratory rates improving with training as we climb the same stairs/hill/mountain or do certain yoga sequences and so on with gradually reducing breathlessness.

Our breath impacts everything

When we’re breathing easily, everything feels more effortless. In fact, once we’re over a cold, ‘flu or any kind of respiratory issue, we might forget about the breath again altogether apart from during the times we’re consciously doing our mindful breath practices.

It’s when it’s a struggle that we realise how much we depend on the breath.

We know we can change our physiology and mood by working with the breath and posture as 80% of the signals between body and brain go upwards from the body to the brainstem via the Vagus nerve.

With each breath, we’re taking in information – from air quality to the changes different breath practices and poses create in our energy levels and mood – that impacts our wellbeing through sensory receptors including the tiny hairs in the nostrils known as the cilia.

Physical yoga practices (asana)

Anything we can do to stretch and expand the upper torso can feel wonderful for the lungs and respiratory tract.

Poses like Triangle, Side Plank and even simple Twists are all beneficial as we consciously breathe more deeply and into the sides and back of the lungs.

Shoulder Stand and Plough can be helpful as we’re working with the upper respiratory tract – if they’re too much, Legs up the Wall will bring some of the benefits, too.

Even rest poses like Savasana, Child and (in dynamic practices where it is considered a rest) Down Dog allow that opportunity to open up through the torso.

You might enjoy imagining a gentle hand resting on your back, encouraging the breath to the very back of the lungs.

Depending on your experience with yoga, own body and favourite poses and, of course state of physical health and fitness, simply bringing greater awareness of the breath to each pose will help you not only support the respiratory system but also deepen the mind body connection and find a greater sense of ease and relaxation.

Yogic breath practices (pranayama)

As described in the video above, you can access longer videos for each of the practices described by clicking the links below:

Mindful breath practices

Inhale Paws Exhale Paws offers a sense of spaciousness in the lungs and, with practice, emotionally and mentally, too.

Dirga is a delightful way to fill the lungs as much as possible and then fully empty them with relief as we exhale more deeply than usual.

3 part breath practices can be helpful in terms of getting to know how intention and focus helps us fill the lungs more deeply, widely and fully. It engages full lung capacity and is also estimated to bring in 7x more oxygen than shallow breathing

Chanting can be a wonderful way to check in with the voice, the upper respiratory tract AND train greater lung capacity. It has calming benefits, too.

And Lion offers a chance to give voice to some of the stresses and tensions as well as supporting the upper respiratory tract.

Prana

This lifeforce energy means we can breathe into areas of tension, using our intention to potentially soften and ease parts of the body (including lungs) in need of some TLC.

As you play with the practices above, you might want to notice how it feels to deliberately send some of that pranic, healing energy to any part of the body that might benefit.

The breath is an amazing tool. And we always have it with us so don’t need any fancy equipment to simply take a few minutes and work with our respiratory systems and deepen the mind body connection.

You can access additional Covid self care coaching tools and more mind body practices, including additional yogic breath practices like Kappalabhati, Alternate Nostril Breathing and Brahmari throughout my site

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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