We don't really know how to breathe!
It seems, most of us don't know how to breathe-the one thing we thought we knew at birth
If you catch a cold often, or suffer from sinusitis worse than Kaa's from Jungle Book, it's possible that you are not breathing right. The Yoga Institute in Santacruz, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world has over 1,000 members, several of whom have respiratory ailments. For those who can't sign up, the institute holds frequent day-long workshops of which the Respiratory Workshop is popular for the kriyas, asanas and pranayam that teach you how to breathe correctly. These exercises, says institute director Hansaji Yogendra, work collectively to up lung capacity, decrease shallow breathing, ease a cold and cough, and calm the mind. Here are five exercises that will work like magic.
4 Ways to beat the common cold
- Don't sit under a fan or in a moving vehicle when your hair is wet. It will aggravate your sinus.
- Sit in the sun for 10 minutes with your eyes closed every day.
- When eating out, drink a glass of warm water afterwards to wash out food particles that can irritate your throat.
- Cover your head when you sleep.
Do what? Sit like a Yogi it's called Sukhasana
Why do it
You must start all yoga exercise sessions with this asana. It straightens the spine, slows the metabolism and stills the mind.
- Sit with your legs crossed. Make sure that you've drawn your tummy in, and your spine is erect.
- Rest your palms on your knees, and relax your shoulders and elbows. Close your eyes and breathe normally.
Do what? The chewing gum bend it's called Hastapadasana
Why do it
It's a complete exhalation exercise, emptying your lungs of air, before you let in a fresh batch. The best bit? It helps tone your stomach, and the forward bend towards gravity tones the back muscles.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart, hands hanging by your side. Raise your arms above your head as you inhale.
- Exhale for three seconds, and bend down till your hands can grip your ankles, and your head is wedged between your upper arms. Don't bend your knees.
- Hold your breath and the posture for a few seconds. Come back to standing position and inhale again.
Do what? Let nose meet knee it's called Padmasana Yoga Mudra
Why do it
It improves breathing, calms the brain, and the belly fold puts pressure on the intestines, liver and spleen to rid you of digestive complaints.
- Sit with your legs crossed, back straight. Inhale and take both hands back, holding your right wrist with your left hand.
- Exhale, bend forward at the waist, and rest the forehead on your left knee. At this point, suspend breathing for six seconds.
- Return to the original position in three seconds while inhaling. Repeat on the right side.
Do what? Stretch like a palm tree it's called Talasana
Why do it
It increases lung capacity, cures chest congestion that is often a reason for back pain.
- Stand with your feet 12 inches apart, toes parallel, chest thrown forward.
- Inhale for two seconds, while lifting your arms to the ceiling. Join them above your head in a namaste.
- Rise on your toes while letting your body stretch as much as you can, pulling yourself upward as it were.
- At the maximum position, maintain your breath for four seconds. Exhale for two seconds while lowering your arms, and heels back flat on the ground.
Do what? Breathe through alternate nostrils it's called Anuloma Viloma
Why do it
A natural nasal cycle requires you to breathe equally from both nostrils, one after another. In most of us, this natural rhythm is disturbed.
What it does
Prevents ailments like asthma
Ancient yogis believe that breathing through the left nostril only for a couple of years can cause asthma. They treated it by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until cured. One can prevent it from recurring by practising alternate nostril breathing.
Improves brain function
Research has shown that electrical activity in the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side controls creative activity, while the left controls logical activity. When the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. And vice versa. Clearing both nasal passages ensures optimum creative and logical use of the brain.
- Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of 16.
- Exhale through the right nostril, closing the left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight. Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of 16. Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight. Do this slowly and rhythmically.
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