Breathe Better Tip Sheet

lungsTo follow up on last week’s post about allergies and the wonderful neti pot, we figured it’d be good to follow up with something similar.  Below is a tip sheet we’ve put together for breathing better.  Hey everyone has to breathe…right?!  How are you breathing right now?  Bet you could be doing it better!  For those of us with breathing disorders, like asthma, or just dealing with everyday stress, you’ll want to keep this in mind.  In fact, print it out and carry it with you.  Some of these exercises you can do just about anywhere!  Enjoy.

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Allergy sufferers often have swelling in the nasal passages and bronchial tubes.  This usually means that people have difficulty breathing, which leads to a multitude of other symptoms.  If your body is not getting enough oxygen you may experience:

Dizziness/Headaches
Difficulty eating and digesting food
Muscle aches and pains
Exhaustion 
Sleepless nights or poor quality sleep

The good news is that there are physical practices that you can use in conjunction with supplements or medications to help improve your breathing.  Below is a list of helpful exercises most people can safely use.  Of course, if you have any doubts about performing these exercises please ask you doctor first.

  • Cat/Cow -please ask for demonstration

This is one of the safest/most popular exercises in yoga.   If being on your hands and knees is difficult, do this seated.

  • Breathe with the ribs.

Place your hands on your ribs and try to use your ribs to push your hands away. By expanding the rib cage this way you initiate your inhale with the movement of the bones as opposed to the movement of the diaphragm.  This can be very helpful when you feel as if you are struggling for a breath.

  • Lay down over a rolled up towel/blanket.

This a wonderful position for opening the chest.  If you have sensitivity in the lower back try laying with your legs up a wall, or resting with knees bent over a chair or table.  Lay with the roll closer to the lower tips of the shoulder blades. This can help open the chest and lungs and allow for easier breathing.  Start with a small roll; the larger you make it the more intense the pose.

  • Try inhaling to the count of 3 and then increase it to a count of 8.

Then try doing the same with your exhales.  Take this exercise slowly!  You may experience frustration with this exercise, so be patient as you increase the count. Don’t rush it and stop if you experience dizziness or loss of sensation in the face, nose, or lips. Leave this exercise for last after you’ve done the others.

Overtime this practice will help to calm you and release any stress associated with your allergies.  It will also help to strengthen the power of your lungs and keep the cilia moving.  Cilia are hair like structures in the lungs that help to move mucous and infection out of the body.  A common side affect of chronic allergies is sinus infections, in part due to the weakening of the cilia. You want to keep the lungs strong and the cilia moving to maintain this important function, which is important for keeping your body safe from infection.

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