When a friend faced a sudden and unwelcome transfer to a European country where she didn’t know the language, where the winters were frigid and where she would probably have to deliver her first baby, none of us in our friends’ circle knew what to say to her. How would she cope? What would she do? Who would help her manage? How was she feeling about this and what thoughts were going through her mind?
Very pragmatic and sensible thoughts apparently. While all of us visualized a catastrophe! A calamity! A total tragedy!, she saw an opportunity, one that she would prepare for and learn from. She signed up for a class to learn the country’s language, she borrowed books for the library to master cooking wholesome food with the very different and limited ingredients she could get there, and she went online to read how to get support from the right sources to help her through a safe, healthy delivery. Truly, by example, she showed us – when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
So let’s get going as well, and without further delay, start strengthening our lung capacity. Probably the most misunderstood of all bodily organs, our lungs are strange, wonderful things that, apart from keeping us alive, can cover a tennis court if opened up and laid out, can float on water, and process nearly 1.75 gallons of air every minute! We use only 5% of the what we breathe in, the rest is exhaled – imagine how much strengthening these miracle workers will benefit us!
Trikonasana: By stretching your physical externalities to the limits, this asana opens up your torso, expanding your chest and literally allowing your lungs to breath easier. Additionally, the spinal twist that accompanies this asana, squeezes your muscles, having the effect of giving them a good massage- a great way to get any body part relaxed and subsequently functioning at its maximum potential.
Naukasana: Just as the boat can take us anywhere in the world, there is literally nothing this pose cannot do for us! One of its many benefits is that by resting on the tripod of your spinal tip and the bone of the butt, this lets your other organs free-float for the duration of the pose, increasing blood circulation, generating heat and releasing beneficial hormones into your bloodstream. These in turn strengthen your respiratory system, giving it a boost in performance that accumulates its benefits, every time you take up this pose.
Ardha Matsyendrasana: The Spinal twist is long-known and well-lauded as the primary asana for respiratory strengthening. Just like the Trikonasana does, this also twists your organs, releases endorphins, widens your chest cavity and allows your lungs to function optimally.
Matsyasana: The fish pose is no slacker either. A lesser known asana, this directly pushes your chest cavity skyward, expanding your chest physically and flooding your lungs with air. Repeated practice slowly increases lung capacity.
Sarvangasana + Halasana: Those who do advanced yoga poses and are comfortable doing the shoulder stand and the plow pose can build this combination into their routine. The powerful duo of poses has the twin benefits of blood purification (always beneficial for the respiratory system) and freeing up air passages and strengthening the diaphragm and lungs. However, make sure you know the right breathing patterns to go into these poses and the right way to release your body from these poses. Doing the poses the wrong way is not going to help your lungs (or your back) one bit!
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