With Delhi NCR shrouded in a thick blanket of smog, pollution levels are touching severe levels, putting our respiratory health at grave risk. Long term exposure to harmful pollutants can damage lung function and cause diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. While we can do little about the deteriorating air quality, it is important to take measures that can safeguard our respiratory health. Experts say that outdoor activities should be avoided during peak pollution hours and cleanse indoor air by keeping the surroundings dust-free and installing air purifiers. (Also read: Should we go for morning walk amid severe pollution? Dos and don’ts of exercising in pollution season)
Apart from these steps, Yoga can be quite effective in enhancing lung function and boosting our immune system. Deep breathing can help lungs to eliminate toxins, improve oxygen flow and boost respiratory health. Controlled breathing techniques can help tackle lung inflammation.
Dr Hansaji Yogendra, Director, The Yoga Institute shares 3 Yoga asanas and 3 breathing techniques to beat pollution and improve respiratory health.
3 Yoga poses for lung health amid pollution
1. Ustrasana (camel pose)
Ustrasana, or the camel pose, is a beneficial yoga asana for respiratory health. It involves a deep backbend, stretching the chest and throat. This asana helps open up the lungs and improve lung capacity. Ustrasana also promotes better posture and can relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Regular practice of Ustrasana can aid in expanding the chest and increasing oxygen intake, making it a valuable addition to your yoga routine for combating pollution’s effects on the respiratory system.
2. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Bhujangasana is a yoga asana that mimics the posture of a cobra with raised head. This pose is particularly beneficial for combating the effects of pollution on your respiratory system. It stretches the chest and opens up the lungs, facilitating better airflow. Regular practice can help in reducing the strain on the respiratory muscles and enhancing lung capacity.
3. Sirsasana (headstand)
Sirsasana, or the headstand, is an advanced yoga pose that offers numerous health benefits. By reversing the body’s gravity, it promotes better circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain and lungs. This asana can help in detoxifying the body and strengthening the respiratory system. However, it is essential to practice headstands under the guidance of a skilled yoga instructor to avoid any injury.
3 pranayama or breathing techniques for lung health amid air pollution
Pranayama is the ancient art of breath control, an integral part of yoga. Here are a few pranayama techniques that can significantly help combat pollution:
This breathing technique involves forceful exhalations through the nose while keeping the inhalations passive. Kapalabhati helps in clearing the respiratory passages and enhancing lung capacity. Regular practice can assist in removing toxins from the body and improving oxygen intake.
2. Anulom Vilom
Also known as alternate nostril breathing, Anulom Vilom is a calming pranayama technique. It aids in balancing the flow of energy, reduces stress, and enhances lung efficiency. By practicing this technique, you can strengthen your respiratory system and build resistance against pollution-related ailments.
Bhastrika is a rapid and powerful breathing technique that involves forceful inhalations and exhalations. It boosts oxygen circulation in the body and helps release carbon dioxide. It’s an effective way to clear the airways and improve lung function.
“In addition to these yoga asanas and pranayama techniques, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is equally important in combating the effects of pollution. Adequate hydration, a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, and staying well-hydrated can help in building a robust immune system. It’s also advisable to limit exposure to polluted areas and use masks when necessary,” says Dr Hansaji.
Yoga, with its emphasis on breath control and physical postures, offers a holistic approach to respiratory health. A clean and well-functioning respiratory system is the key to a healthier and happier life in the face of environmental challenges.