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Good Breathing Exercises and Techniques

By Dr Kul Bhushan Bali | Consultant, Department of ENT and Head & Neck Surgery

COVID-19 virus mainly attacks our lungs and respiratory system and sometimes results in severe damage. After recovering from an acute stage, it may require some breathing exercises and therapy to restore functions of the lungs, strengthen the diaphragm and increase lung capacity. Breathing exercises also decreases stress and anxiety and improves quality of sleep.

 

Below are some breathing exercises which can be followed to improve lung function and increase the overall lung capacity.

1) Pursed Lip breathing exercise:
Step 1: Sit with your back straight or lie down.
Step 2: Inhale through your nose for two seconds, feeling the movement of air into your abdomen.
Step 3: Purse your lips like you’re blowing on hot food and then breathe out slowly. Note that it should take twice as long to exhale as you took to breathe in. An alternate way to do this exercise is to use a balloon to exhale into.
Step 4: Repeat the procedure three to five times in single session. This exercise is to be done three times a day.

 

2) Belly Sleeping: 
Lie down on your belly while sleeping. This can improve lung function for those whose lungs have been affected or are facing mild COVID-19 symptoms.
 
3) Walking: 
Walk for 10-15 minutes at a normal pace within the area where you are quarantined. Repeat this procedure, three to four times a day to expand your lungs and its capacity and maintain healthy lung function.

4) Thoracic Breathing Exercise:

  1. Place your palms at the back of your head (sit comfortably; do not apply pressure).

  2. Take a deep breath through the nose.

  3. Turn yourself towards a side (either right or left) and exhale through your mouth. Alternate between left and right side.

Please do not do these exercises if you have fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while resting, chest pain or palpitations.

 

5) Yogic breathing exercises to keep your lungs strong
Bhastrika Pranayam – This deep inhalation with forceful exhalation. Pranayam when practiced regularly make lungs strong, reduces risk of asthma and allergy and enhances immunity.
Kapal Bhati – Focuses on exhalation and removes carbon dioxide from the dead spaces in the airway. It also massages and detoxifies our internal organs like liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines.
Anulom Vilom – This alternate nostril breathing relaxes our mind, brings down stress hormones in the body, reduces inflammatory substances in the body and reduces depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Promotes general wellbeing.
Bhramari Pranayam - The humming sound produced is proven to produce nitric oxide in paranasal sinuses and is known to reduce stress and inflammatory substances in the body.
Udgeet Pranayam - Recitation of Aum.