Simple Yoga routines for respiratory wellness

Sujatha R
8 min readMar 24, 2020

Some education and resources on Yoga for respiratory wellness. Breathing Exercises, Kriyas, Pranayama and Guided Relaxation

With the Corona virus pandemic around, with lockdowns everywhere and health workers in the frontline.. shared here are Yoga routine options and video resources. Some education for newbies to Yoga and choice for those familiar with Yoga.

Dr Nagendra, Vice Chancellor of SVYASA Yoga and instrumental in setting up International Day of Yoga in WHO has provided simple COVID19 Yoga protocol for all age groups. Dr Nagaratna explains the science behind immunity and respiratory wellness through Yoga in this video..

Yoga offers different kinds of solutions for respiratory wellness and immunity boosting. Strengthening of different respiratory muscles, increase in lung capacity and pacifying the mind. These simple routines can be practised at workplace, hospitals and at home by spending 10 to 15 minutes. If you are short of time to read the whole article, do look at these 2 videos..

Science of Immunity and Yoga by Dr Nagaratna

Yoga Standing stretches and seated breathing techniques

Feel free to jump to the reference section at the end to see the listing of all the video resources. About myself, I did my yoga training a few years back at SVYASA university, Bangalore. I am lucky to have stumbled into this ancient science. I am not a stickler Yogi myself, but at this hour.. feel that this knowledge and practice can bring harmony and wellness to a lot of folks all over.. And hence this post..

Brief about Yoga

For novices, the primary difference between exercises and Yoga can be loosely described as the latching of awareness.. to the breath.. to the finger tips.. to an observation point.. towards infinity and gradually experience the feeling of merging.. Sage Patanjali defines Yoga as cessation of all mental thoughts.. In the modern times, Yoga is a tool, a strategy strategy to calm the mind. It brings balance, equipoise and dexterity.

The word Yoga literally means ‘union’ with the higher dimension. While there are many pathways to this union like music, compassion, service, devotion and contemplation.. The modern world interpretation of Yoga is Sage Patanjali’s Asanas, Pranayama and Meditation. The systematic and clinical approach of controlling the mind through these practices makes Yoga very popular both in the Eastern and Western parts of the world.

Options offerred by Yoga

Following are the options for respiratory wellness and immunity boosting.

  • Breathing Stretches
  • Kriya & Pranayama
  • Asana Postures
  • Meditation
  • Guided practices of Deep Relaxation

Anatomy of Breathing

Any guesses when is the first time you attempted that deep breathing?? When we enter this world from the comfort zone of our mother’s womb, we make that big step..

The respiratory system is a bridge between the conscious and subconscious, voluntary and involuntary or in general the body and the mind. By using the conscious or voluntary control of breathing during the breathing practise, we can change the unconscious or involuntary breathing functions eventually.

There are 3 set of muscles involved in respiration - lower, middle and upper sections.

a) We use our diaphragm with the help of abdominal muscles to breath IN and OUT vertically

b) The chest muscles in the thorax region are used to expand and collapse the chest.I

c) The upper blades of shoulder are used for upper breathing.

The objective of breathing exercises is to

  1. To utilise of all the lobes of the lungs
  2. To normalize the breathing (slow, deep, continuous and smooth)
  3. To make the breathing uniform, continuous and rhythmic

a) Breathing Exercises

Unlike Asanas, these are not known widely. In standing position, as the arms stretch, there is expansion and deep inhalation.. As the arms come back, there is exhalation.. These are energy conserving, relaxing and can be performed multiple times in a day at work place even with mild sickness.

Inorder to cover the different sections of breathing, there are variety of standing breathing exercises. Hyperlinks from another post..

https://youtu.be/jRQLW69VjnI?t=03m35s

People with respiratory illness like asthma can further try Tiger, dog, Rabbit, Serpent, bridge breathing couple of times.. These are not in standing position.

b) Kriyas, Pranayama and Meditation

For a simple practise, it is enough if a few of these are performed as shown in the video.. kaphalabhati cleansing, abdominal breathing, left right breath balancing and relaxation with brahmari pranayama..

SVYASA https://youtu.be/jRQLW69VjnI?t=10m16s

The below description is more to understand the anatomy and classification of these practices and the goal behind each.

The Kriyas like Kaphalabhati, bhastrika and anunasika aim at increasing the breath rate and cleanse the nasal passages before performing the pranayama. Since they are intensive on the abdomen, it should be performed on an empty stomach. Those with abdominal injury or hypertension should avoid or do it gently.

Sectional Breathing involves exercising the individual segments.. abdominal, thoracic and upper breathing..

Nadishuddhi pranayama involves alternate breathing through left and right nostril and hence balancing and calming both sides of the brain.

Brahmari pranayama with the resonating Mmm sound brings calmness into the mind. It produces deep relaxation and can be practised before sleep for a calming effect. Om chanting covers the entire spectrum of vowel sounds and creates 3 dimensional awareness and harmony.

Meditation and Visualization helps in moving the awareness into the subtle dimensions and calms the mind.

I did find Covid breathing techniques from other masters. I did not try them myself. For reference..

Art of Living: https://youtu.be/MXeiHMc-DAU

Isha Sadguru: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/440598140

c) Asanas

When King Kapila had enquires about the number of Asanas to his master, Sage Gherenda replied that there were many asanas as the number of animals in this planet.. Only a few of the animal postures have been useful to mankind.. Hence the story of different asana postures.

Sage Patanjali defines the scope of Asana as a Steady and Comfortable posture.. Letting go of unnecessary effort and Submission to the Infinity.. The true spirit of performing an Asana..

Poses like Warrior, Camel, Bridge, Cobra, Fish open and stretch the chest and stimulate the lungs.

I heard in a podcast about a doctor in US performing a warrior pose each time before a surgery.. Some chest expansion and good air and strengthening of the legs and back..

Do a couple of them which are easy agree with your physical condition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqbo_qmlleQ

Warrior Pose -Halfwheel Pose- Rotated triangle Pose
Camel pose -Rabbit Pose-sleeping rabbit
serpent pose -fish pose- bridge pose

Image Credit Art of Living, Gaia

https://youtu.be/K-GJh9GeOxE?t=23m33s

d) Sun Salutations

A sequence of 12 stretches folding and unfolding marked with alternate inhalation and exhalation. Great poses for chest expansion..

https://youtu.be/IKzkc3FWx7g

e) Guided Relaxation Techniques

Deep Relaxation

Performed in shavasana, the guided meditation would slowly take your awareness into the different sections of the body and thereby provide deep relaxation. Needs no prior experience.

https://youtu.be/2jt7i-E_Xs8

Mind Sound Resonance Technique

In corpse pose, a series of Aa, Uuu, Mmm and Om chantings.. Recommended for people with stress or terminal illness.. The sounds create a beautiful 3D awareness and healing effect. Can be done without knowing the theory. Theory

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvWhSiemvyY

Cyclic Meditation

Based on Mandukya Upanishad, an alternating sequence of few asanas and relaxation that provides stimulus and deep relaxation. It reduces stress, enhances sleep quality and best performed in the evening after work. Look into the theory to understand the sequence of asanas here..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Eyuus4LZX8

I had made this chart long time back during the Yoga training.. If you feel comfortable with the nomenclature, feel free to use..

The above article is for motivation and education purpose. The videos contain the instructions and contra indications. Asanas need to be practised with Care under guidance of a teacher.

“Everything in this world is sustained by prana. O Prana! Protect us just like a mother and bless us with prosperity and intelligence.” Prasna Upanishad

“Let the world be free from misery, disease and hunger. May every one be happy and prosperous.”

“When the mind is drowsy..may it be awakened. When agitated.. may it be pacified.. May it reach the equilibrium and be in that state.”-Mundaka Upanishad.

Reference Videos

Covid Talk by Dr Nagendra, Founder of International Day of Yoga
https://youtu.be/gMotUcuNSlw
covid talk on immunity by Dr Nagendra
https://youtu.be/WFSGo-GR-TQ?t=245
Covid Yoga for adults
https://youtu.be/jRQLW69VjnI?t=03m35s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqbo_qmlleQArt of Living Pranayama
https://youtu.be/MXeiHMc-DAU
Sun Salutations
https://youtu.be/IKzkc3FWx7g
Cyclic Meditation
https://youtu.be/jZrR3FJlVt8
Deep Relaxation
https://youtu.be/2jt7i-E_Xs8
Covid Yoga for Children:
https://youtu.be/t1R95DOKehs
Covid Yoga for Elderly People: These are chair-based, gentle yoga routines that may be very useful for seniors who may have challenges with mobility and flexibility
https://youtu.be/vIZjs0OYvec
2019 International Day of Yoga Protocol from Dept of Ayush, India
https://youtu.be/K-GJh9GeOxE

About the Author

The author worked as an embedded engineer over 2 decades.. She did her Yoga training at SVYASA university Bangalore to get a better understanding of the Yoga Science. She has published the book -Samskruthe Yogashala. She enjoys blogging, linguistic study and NLP.

Related blogs by the same author

Physics of Yoga

Patanjali Sutras on Yoga Asanas

What does the Dog Say- An understanding of Vocal architecture and Indic Phonology

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns