Article contributed by Dr.Himanshu Tiwari
Our lungs are the primary organs of our respiratory system. Both lungs are situated in the thoracic cavity, located in the chest on either side of the heart. Our lungs are spongy air-filled organs, both lungs weigh approximately 1.3 kg. The lung on the right is bigger than the one on the left. Each lung is enclosed within a pleural cavity, which is filled with a fluid to prevent friction from arising during breathing. The right lung has three lobes while the left has two. Each lobe is further divided into many lobules. The lungs receive deoxygenated blood from the heart via the pulmonary artery. The lungs then purify the blood, oxygenating it and sending it back to the heart through pulmonary vein for circulation all over the body.
No one quite appreciates the importance of healthy lungs until he/she experiences a breathing problem. When lung health is affected, it adversely impacts the quality of everyday life. We need to give our lungs daily care and attention. In our regular day to day activity, we do not use our full lung capacity, so it is crucial that we challenge our lungs with more intense activity.
Signs of unhealthy lungs:
Trouble breathing or shortness of breathing.
A feeling that you are not getting enough air.
Chest pain, associated cough and breathing.
Tips to make our lungs healthy and strong:
- Simple deep breathing exercise
Deep breathing exercises can contribute towards reaching full lung capacity. Inhale slowly, consciously expanding your belly and lowering the diaphragm with awareness. Next expand your ribs and finally allow the upper chest to expand and lift. Then exhale as completely as possible by letting the chest fall. Then contract the ribs, and finally bringing the stomach muscles in and up to lift the diaphragm and expel the last bit of air.
- Count your breaths
You can increase your lung capacity by the increasing the length of your inhalation and exhalation. Start by counting how long a natural breath takes. Count the numbers it takes to complete your inhalation and also your exhalation. It will not be the same. Once you discover the count of your average breath, add one more count to each inhalation and exhalation – make sure you can breathe comfortably. Avoid any strain. The process should be gradual and easy.
- Watch your posture
Do this simple technique: Lean back slightly in a stable chair. Lift the chest by opening the front of your body as you breathe deeply. This gives your lungs more space.
- Stay hydrated
Staying well hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day keeps the mucosal lung lining healthy for better gaseous exchange.
Laughter is good exercise, it helps increase abdominal muscle, which finally increases lung capacity.
- Stay active
Regular moderately intense activity like brisk walking for about 30 minutes daily has a good effect on both the lungs and the heart, putting you in a good mood. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing are all aerobic exercises which can improve your lung capacity.
- Sudarshan Kriya
This is a powerful breathing technique which greatly improves lung capacity and health. Regular daily practice of Sudarshan Kriya can free a person from stress and boost energy – you can see its effect on regular practitioners. Anyone can learn this powerful breathing technique online by joining a Happiness Course offered by the Art of Living organisation, Banglore.
The following yogic pranayamas are also beneficial for lung health:
Nadi Shodhan Pranayam
This is evidence to prove that each and every activity can be enhanced with an appropriate diet. Ayurveda believes in proper food management which is based on prakriti. If the food taken by an individual is suitable to his prakriti, its nutritive value for that individual will be maximum, offering effective nourishment. If food is ingested randomly without considering the prakriti, then there are some chances that toxins will be produced which can increase in the body, thereby causing disease.
In addition to food and activity, the following ayurvedic supplements can help keep lungs healthy:
- Kusmandak Rasayan
- Agustya Haritaki Rasayan
- Sitopaladhi Churna
- Talisadhi Churna
- Shawashuddhi Vati
- Lavangadhi Vati
- Kabasura Kudineer Tablets and Churna