The human body is incredible. But all too often we go about our lives, taking our incredible bodies for granted. They work without us even having to ask and without a “Please” or a “Thank you.” We don’t have to exert special effort for our body to breathe. It just breathes. We don’t have to voice a command for our heart to beat. It just beats. And so it goes for all the rest of our internal organs and intricate systems.
Perhaps we should all take a moment to express some gratitude for our bodies and how they work, that we are alive and our breath and heart beat are set to cruise control. Hopefully the intake and exhale of air is steady and strong. However, because this intake and exhale is automatic, most of us only ever use a portion of our potential lung capacity. We suffer from a lack of oxygen we don’t even know we are lacking. When we don’t take the time to take in deep breaths or work on breathing exercises and pranayamas, we tend to breathe in a fairly shallow manner. These shallow breaths don’t engage the diaphragm properly and barely expand the rib-cage. They lead to a body which lacks energy and tires easily.
Proper breathing is part of the YOGI WAY OF LIFE. Every pose that we hold, every flow, every movement is made in harmony with the breath. This focus on movement in tandem with the breath is one of the major differences between the practice of yoga and other exercises. Yoga emphasizes slowed-down, mindful movements accompanied by deep breathing and allows for periods of relaxation in between poses. Yogis understand that there is a limit to the oxygen debt an individual can sustain. To account for this, relaxation (by way of poses such as savasana and child pose) are systematically incorporated into the yoga practice to pay off oxygen debt.
So, let’s all take a deep breath and get started building up that lung capacity…
12 yoga poses including pranayamas to help improve lung capacity
- Savasana with abdominal breathing
- Easy seated pose with full yogic breath
- Easy seated pose with alternate nostril breathing (anuloma viloma)
- Easy seated pose with kapalabhati
- cat/cow movement
- Yoga mudrasana
- Bridge pose
- Bow pose
- Camel pose
- Lord of the dance pose
- Wheel pose
- Sphinx/cobra/upward dog pose