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Breathe Your Way to Better Immunity

COVID-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system and to breathe the right way is the easiest method to strengthen the body’s respiratory ability and boost your immunity as well.

It’s no wonder then that in ancient Indian wisdom, the breath is called the “prana” or the vital life force that can energise different organs. Even as pranayama and yoga practitioners have been teaching people to breathe correctly to prevent physical health and emotional disorders, with COVID-19 raging, alternative healers are now stressing on better breathing more than ever. The bare truth is that by increasing our respiratory capacity, we can increase our immunity.

Breathing is often that part of our involuntary nervous system that is overlooked. Stress, anxiety and the urgency of daily urban life makes us take shorter and shallower breaths. The best example of breathing correctly is exhibited by a resting dog, its belly swelling and falling with every deep breath. The pace of busy urban lives may have made us forget how to breathe properly, but it’s easy to get back the rhythm that benefits the body and its various systems.

Equal Breathing

A breathing pattern should ideally have an exhalation that is longer than the inhalation so that there are no remnants of air left in the lungs. But beginners should aim for an equal duration of breathing in and out. Monitor your breathing pattern and gradually move to longer intervals. Ideally, every breath should be at least few seconds long and the exhalation should be longer so that there is no stale air left in the system.

Wim Hof

Wim Hof meditation is a breathing technique that allows you to control the autonomous systems of the body and improve immunity. This can be followed in a few simple steps: Sit in a comfortable position and inhale deeply; hold this for a moment; and then exhale completely. Repeat this 15 times. Take ‘power breaths’ where you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Once you are done, meditate for a few minutes.

Alternative Nostril Breathing

As the name suggests, this process requires you to inhale from one nostril and exhale from the other, and then repeat by switching the order. “It opens up the nasal passage and allows a smoother movement of the breath or prana.

Bumble Bee

This technique requires you to copy the humming sound that a bee makes when it buzzes around. Cover your ears with your palms, close your eyes, take a deep breath. As you exhale, start humming with your lips tightly pursed together. Pull the navel in and release the air from your body. “With every breath, lengthen the span of the exhalation to increase capacity. The technique has multiple benefits in alternative healing: It increases lung capacity and the humming sound is believed to relieve anxiety.

4-7-8 Method

Inhale gently for four seconds, hold the breath for seven, and then release the breath slowly for eight seconds. It is a good exercise for the lungs to hold the breath and exhale for a longer period. With time, this can enhance lung capacity and is particularly beneficial for those who suffer from stress-related disorders.

Pursed Lips Breathing

Keep your lips pursed in this technique, inhale through the nose and gradually exhale through your pursed lips while ensuring that the duration of the exhalation is longer than that of the inhalation.

Abdominal Breathing

This method of breathing takes the breath right down to the stomach and the navel. Lie on a mat on your back, place one palm on the abdomen and the other on the chest. With eyes closed, take a deep, long breath and feel the stomach rise higher than the chest. Hold the breath for up to seven seconds and then exhale for around eight seconds. The hand on the abdomen should feel the muscles constrict as you push all the stale air out of your body.

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