The Covid-19 virus severely affects and damages the respiratory system. One of the best preventative measures and options to improve the outcome of a Covid-19 infection is to strengthen the lungs. You can try a host of yoga exercises and other breathing practices that are also very effective in keeping stress and anxiety at bay.
Here is a list of simple, at home yoga breathing exercises that you can practice in between work calls, as soon as you wake up or at any time that is most suitable for you.
The Benefits of Breathing For Coronavirus
The effects of the coronavirus vary from person to person. It is the inflammation in the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe when you are infected by the virus. The symptoms can vary from mild, moderate to severe. In chronic cases, people may also develop issues like pneumonia. With exercises poses that improve breathing and some recommended breathing practices, there are various advantages that can help manage and combat the symptoms:
- Deep breathing exercises strengthen the functioning of the lungs and clear the airways. This is particularly useful for people with conditions like acute respiratory distress syndrome and asthma.
- At home yoga breathing exercises strengthen your diaphragm. This is an important muscle for the respiratory system as it improves lung capacity and as a result increases oxygen intake.
- Deep breathing exercises get the oxygen deeper into the lungs. This helps clear out fluids or any mucus that may be causing breathing issues.
- When in recovery, yoga exercises for breathing help strengthen the muscles of the respiratory system and allow them to recover faster.
- Deep breathing calms you down. This helps you cope with stress, anxiety, long term illness and even the recovery process.
Best Breathing Exercises For Covid-19
Here is a list of some of the most recommended exercises poses and breathing techniques for Covid-19:
Pursed Lip Breathing
This breathing technique is known to increase the oxygen intake into the lungs when compared to regular breathing. The airways of the lungs are kept open for longer as you reduce the number of inhalations per minute. Here are the steps to follow:
- Sit in a relaxed position with your shoulder and neck muscles unclenched.
- Breathe in through your nose for a few counts keeping the mouth closed. This helps humidify the air before it enters the lungs. This does not happen when you breathe through your nose.
- While exhaling, purse your lips like you would when blowing a candle out.
- Keep the lips pursed as you breathe out to empty your lungs completely.
- The trick is to maintain the exhalation for more counts than an inhalation.
- Repeat this 10-20 times.
Qigong Belly Breathing
Qigong is a Chinese traditional meditation practice. Just like many at home yoga breathing practices, even this breathing technique engages the diaphragm actively. Studies show that this deep breathing technique with slow movements is very helpful in improving pulmonary function, especially in individuals affected by Covid-19. Follow these steps:
- This breathing exercise can be performed sitting down or lying down.
- Relax the muscles of the face, jaw, neck and shoulders
- The tip of the tongue must rest just behind the front teeth of the upper jaw.
- Keep your back straight and close your eyes.
- For 45 seconds -1 minute, breathe normally.
- Then, place one hand on the lower abdomen and the other on your chest.
- Inhale deeply through the nose till your chest expands completely. You must be able to feel the stomach push outward against the hand.
- Exhakle, contracting your stomach inward and emptying the lungs completely.
- Practice these steps 10 times initially and gradually increase the repetitions.
This is one of the best yoga exercises to keep your lungs strong and improve their capacity. It also helps soothe the nerves and boosts your immunity. Make sure you practice this exercise with an empty stomach for best benefits. Here are the steps to follow:
- Sit in a cross legged or kneeling down position.
- Keep the shoulder over your hips
- The head must remain elevated over your shoulders
- Extend the body gently
- As you breathe in, let your spine stretch and straighten.
- Then, exhale slowly
- Hold this position and repeat these steps at least 10 times.
You can also try other advanced breathing exercises like anulom vilom which keep fluid build up in the lungs minimal. Start with the three practices mentioned above and then explore other techniques till you can find one that makes you feel the best.
Before you try any advanced yoga exercises or other breathing techniques, make sure you consult your doctor. Some of these practices are not recommended for individuals with conditions like high blood pressure. Once you get a green signal from your doctor, you can begin your journey towards healthier and stronger lungs.