Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fall Repiratory Health--Part 3

Still have that hacking cough, sore throat, and stuffed up sinuses?  Well in addition to all the herbal medicines and foods that can help relieve these fall respiratory conditions, consider some simple yoga postures to help relive symptoms.  While yoga tends to be categorized as an exercise, it's also a very therapeutic tool to use for acute and chronic conditions as well.  You will want to focus on gentle twists and chest openers. Here's a few great poses and breathing techniques to open the lungs, and clear the sinuses.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This yogic breathing technique can help equalize the pressure in your head and maintain a clear nasal passage.  YogaOutlet.com has some great tips for practicing this breathing technique.
  1. Begin in a comfortable, cross-legged position. You may choose to sit on a folded blanket to elevate your hips and reduce knee pressure. Sit up straight, but relax your body. Soften your jaw and breathe naturally.
  2. With your right hand, bend your index and middle fingers, keeping your ring finger, pinkie finger, and thumb extended. This hand position, or mudra, is called Mrigi Mudra.
  3. Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
  4. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
  5. At the top of your inhalation, close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand as you release the right nostril.
  6. Exhale through your right nostril.
  7. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale deeply through your right nostril.
  8. Seal your right nostril again with your thumb, then release your left nostril.
  9. Exhale out of your left nostril. You should now be in the original position, with your thumb sealing your right nostril. This is one cycle.
  10. Balance your inhalations and exhalations so they are the same length through both nostrils.
  11. Repeat up to 10 full cycles, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you gain experience.
Reclined Twist
  1. Start by lying down on your back.  Slowly take an inhale and extend both arms over your head.  
  2. As you exhale, curl into both knees, hugging them into you.  
  3. Let your head and shoulders rest on the ground, arms out wide out to the sides, palms facing up. Take a nice deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower your bent knees over to the right, to or towards the ground.  
  4. Now turn your head slowly to the left, peeking out at the extended hand.  This brings the twist all the way from the lower back and belly into the lungs, helping to loosen some congestion.
  5. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and repeat on the other side. Do this 3-5 times.

Bridge Pose
  1.  Bend your knees and place your feet about hip distance apart, fingertips just grazing your heels.  You can also squeeze a yoga block between the legs to ensure that your hips stay in alignment. 
  2. As you exhale, push down and away through your feet to lift your hips off the ground.  
  3. Clasp your hands underneath you, or press the arms into the floor, to create a stable foundation on the tops of your shoulders. 
  4. Breathe here for 3-5 breaths, drawing the breath up into the upper lobes of the lungs to increase breathing capacity and clear the lungs.
  5. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground.

Practice these postures to clear the head, pump up the lymphatic system, and open the breathing muscles.  Next time your respiratory system gets bogged down by fall viruses, you'll have the tools you need to stay open and stay healthy.

Be Well,
Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT


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