Lungs and the respiratory system are the worst hit during the course of COVID-19 disease. So, it is essential to re-energize it. Here are some of the easy breathing techniques that can be practiced at home even by people who are not conversant with the yoga and Pranayama methods!
The breathing exercises have been categorized into three types based on the body positions:
– Hands in and out breathing
– Hands Stretch Breathing
– Ankle Stretch Breathing
– Rabbit Breathing
– Tiger Breathing
– Sasankäsana Breathing
3) Supine (lying down on the back)
– Straight Leg Raise Breathing
a) Hands In And Out Breathing
1. Stretch out your arms in front, in level with your shoulders, and bring the palms together.
2. Inhaling spread your arms sideways in a horizontal plane.
3. While exhaling bring the arms forward with palms touching each other.
4. Repeat 5 times making your arm movements continuous and synchronizing with the breath flowing in and out rhythmically.
5. Relax in a standing position by spreading the feet, hanging the hands loose by the side of the body with the neck in a relaxed position.
b) Hands Stretch Breathing
1. Stand erect with feet together (heels together and toes 4 to 6 inches apart) and hands relaxed by the side of the body.
2. Gently bring your hands in front of the chest.
3. Interlock the fingers and place the palms on the chest.
4. Collapse and relax your shoulders.
5. Close your eyes.
Stage 1: (Horizontal)
1. While inhaling, stretch the arms straight out in front of your body so that the arms are at shoulder level
2. At the same time twist the hands so that the palms face outwards. Fully stretch the arms, but do not strain.
4. While exhaling reverse the process and bring the palms back onto the chest.
5. Collapse the shoulders again.
Repeat 5 times.
Stage 2: Repeat the same movements now stretching the arms above the forehead at an angle of 135°. Repeat 5 times.
Stage 3: (Vertical)
1. Again repeat the same movements, this time stretching the arms vertically above the head.
2. While moving up and down, keep the palms close to the nose tip.
3. Repeat 5 times.
1) Collapse the shoulders at the beginning and end of each cycle.
2) Maintain perfect awareness of breathing.
3) Exhalation should be longer than inhalation.
4) If required, it can be practiced sitting on a chair too. Synchronize the breathing with hand movements.
c) Ankles Stretch Breathing Method:
1. Open your eyes and fix your gaze on a point on the wall ahead. Place the palms in front of your thighs.
2. While inhaling, raise your hands and stretch the ankles. Feel yourself growing taller and firm.
3. As you exhale, bring your hands and heels down.
4. Repeat 5 times keeping the movement of hands and ankles continuously, breathing in synchronization. Feel the stretch from your ankles up to fingertips as you reach upwards.
5. Relax in standing position, hands by the side of the thighs. Observe your breath and enjoy the stability for a few seconds.
a) Rabbit Breathing Method:
1. Keeping the knees together, bend forward and rest the forearms on the floor, keeping the elbows by the side of the knees and palms flat on the ground.
2. Maintain the head at a distance of one hand length from the ground to the chin. Open your mouth partially. Protrude the tongue partially. Touch the lower lip with the tongue while resting it (tongue) on the lower set of teeth.
3. Gaze at a point about 2 feet on the ground in front of you.
4. Pant quickly like a rabbit, using only the upper part of the chest. Feel the air moving in and out of the lungs. Feel the expansion and contraction of the chest muscles. Continue for 20 to 40 breaths.
5. Close your mouth and relax in Sasankasana. Stretch your hands forward with the forehead resting on the ground. Feel the relaxation of the chest and thorax. Allow your breath to return to normal.
1. Breathe rapidly through the mouth only, using the thoracic muscles.
2. Make sure that the abdomen presses on your thighs preventing any abdominal movement.
3. Do not drop your head onto the floor.
b) Tiger Breathing Method:
1. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor in line with the shoulders with fingers pointing forward. Arms, thighs should be about one shoulder-width apart and heels in close contact to each other. The arms and thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
3. While inhaling raise the head and look at the ceiling.
4. At the same time, depress the spine making it concave.
5. While exhaling, arch the spine upwards and bend the head downward bringing the chin towards the chest.
6. This constitutes one round of tiger breathing.
7. Repeat 5 rounds.
1. Before starting the practice ensure that you are comfortable while standing on “all-fours” (i.e., on two hands and two knees). Coordinate the movements with breathing.
2. Keep the eyes closed and practice with awareness.
3. Do not bend the arms or move the thighs forward and backward.
c) Sasankasana Breathing Method:
1. Sit on the heels, resting the buttocks on the heels. Take the hands behind the back, make a fist of the right hand and hold the right wrist with the left hand.
2. Relax the shoulders.
3. While inhaling bend backward from the waist opening up the chest.
4. While exhaling slowly bend forward from the waist bringing the forehead onto the ground in front of the knees. Collapse the shoulders.
5. While inhaling slowly come up to the vertical position and then slightly lean backward.
6. This forms one round. Continue ten rounds slowly.
1. Keep the shoulders collapsed.
2. You can separate the knees as per your comfort to avoid unnecessary pressure on the abdomen and chest. Synchronize breathing with movement.
3. Keep your eyes closed and maintain breath awareness.
a) Straight Leg Raise Breathing Method:
1. While inhaling slowly raise the right leg without bending the knee, as far as comfortable (up to 90° if possible).
2. While exhaling return the leg to the floor as slowly as possible.
3. Repeat the practice with the left leg.
4. This is one round. Perform 10 rounds.
1. If you need, you can keep the arms by the side of your body with the palms facing the floor at any convenient position or at shoulder level.
2. Do not bend the knee throughout the practice. Do not disturb the leg lying straight on the ground in order to be able to raise the other leg. Even if you can, do not raise the leg beyond 90°.
3. Perfectly synchronize the breathing with leg movements.
4. Maintain perfect breath awareness during the practice.
Stage 2: As you get stronger, you can do the leg raising exercise with both legs.
Avoid this exercise if you have lower back pain. Lie on the back with the legs together, hands stretched out over the head, biceps touching the ears and palms facing the ceiling. While inhaling slowly raise both legs without bending at the knees, as far as comfortable (up to 90°, if possible). While exhaling return the legs to the floor as slowly as possible. Perform 5 rounds.
In the case of both legs, as you exhale and bring down the legs, there will be a tendency for them to fall down too rapidly as they come close to the floor. So use strength and have control over the movement.
Other Alternate Exercises:
1. Blowing the water with a straw: Fill a glass with 3/4th it’s capacity with water. Then inhale deeply and exhale forcefully with the help of a straw into the water. You can even displace the water out of the glass by blowing through the straw. Repeat this 4-5 times per day, each time lasting for 3-5 minutes.
2. Candle blowing: Light a series of candles, each at an arm’s length and blow them. Inhale deeply before blowing the candles off. This can also be done 4-5 times per day.
3. Practice breathing with a spirometer. (You have to blow the ball up to a certain length in the tubes)
Benefits Of Breathing Exercises:
1. Helps in correcting wrong breathing rhythms, speed, and haphazardness. Most of the respiratory disorders manifest due to this imbalance.
2. To normalize the breathing rate and to make the breathing uniform, continuous and rhythmic.
3. Beneficial for all age groups.
4. Respiratory system is a bridge between the conscious and the sub-conscious, voluntary and the involuntary, or in general, the body and mind. This system is
both voluntary as well as involuntary. Using voluntary control we change the involuntary functions. Takes care of both the body and the mind.
5. Bringing into action all the lobes of the lungs for full utilization.
About The Author
I am an Ayurveda Vaidya with 5 years of clinical practice with post graduation specialisation in DIAGNOSTIC MEDICINE from Government Ayurvedic Medical College, Bengaluru.
I believe in following and prescribing the wholistic principles of the Ayurveda science.