The age-old practice of yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. While a rigorous yoga practice can strengthen the entire body, even the simplest poses can yield lung health benefits.
Yoga can help improve lung capacity and strengthen respiratory muscles, which is particularly advantageous for those who live in polluted areas or live with lung disease. Certain poses can also stretch the chest muscles, allowing for increased oxygen flow.
Here are five simple yoga poses that you can try from the comfort of your living room:
1. Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
The triangle pose is exactly what it sounds like – widening your stance and opening up your chest to achieve a triangle-like shape. It stretches your hamstrings and back, activates your abdominal muscles, and expands your chest.
Step 1: Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart.
Step 2: Turn your right foot 90 degrees and the left 15 degrees.
Step 3: Ensure that your right heel is aligned to the center of your left foot’s arch.
Step 4: Inhale deeply and during the exhale, bend towards the right and try to touch your right foot with your right hand while stretching the left hand skywards. Ensure that your arms are in a straight line.
Step 5: Bend and stretch as much as you can. Your right hand must touch at least the shin of your right leg. Open your chest as much as possible.
Step 6: Inhale and return to the starting position and repeat these steps for the other side.
2. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
Cobra is another simple but mighty yoga pose. It stretches your abdomen, chest, and shoulders as well as strengthens your spine.
Step 1: Lie on your stomach on the floor. Keep your hands on either side of your shoulders. Arms, head, shoulders, feet all should be touching the floor.
Step 2: On an inhalation, slowly lift your chest off the floor. Straighten your shoulders and look upwards towards the sky. Hips, thighs, and feet should be on the floor.
Step 3: Hold the pose for close to 30 seconds and breathe easy.
Step 4: Exhale and release the body to the starting position.
3. Matsyasana (Fish pose)
Also known as a heart-opening pose, the fish pose stretches the front of your body, upper back muscles, and neck.
Step 1: Lie on your back with knees bent and place the hands under your body with palms facing down.
Step 2: Keep your feet hips distance apart and slowly lift your head and chest while resting your weight on the elbows.
Step 3: Extend legs one by one and place the top of your head on the floor. Use the upper back muscles to support your chest.
Step 4: Hold the pose for 5-10 breath cycles and then slowly release to the floor leading with the chest and head.
Better Breathing Tip: Inhale while bending backward and exhale while coming to the original position. Make sure you feel your breath in your belly, not your chest.
4. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a breathwork technique that can be done as part of a yoga practice.
Step 1: Sit comfortably on the floor with an erect posture with a straight spine and relaxed shoulders.
Step 2: Place both hands on your knees with palms facing the sky and join the middle finger with the thumb.
Step 3: Using your right thumb, close your right nostril, inhale through your left nostril, and then close the left nostril using your middle finger and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this with the left nostril.
Step 4: Continue this inhale and exhale through alternate nostrils for a minimum of ten counts.
5. Chakrasana (Wheel pose)
The wheel pose is ultimately a backbend or a bridge, and it helps strengthen several muscles, including your arms, abdomen, chest, and legs.
Step 1: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor at hips distance apart.
Step 2: Bend your arms at the elbow with palms facing upwards and rotate your arms to rest your palms on the floor on either side of your head.
Step 3: Inhale and lift your body to form a bow while putting pressure on your palms and feet.
Step 4: Lower your head gently and stay in the position for 3-5 breaths and slowly release the body back to the floor.
Caution: If you are a beginner, you should seek an expert’s help before doing these asanas. It is also recommended that you do a full-body warm-up before you begin your yoga routine.