Our Respiratory System is More Than Just a Pair of Lungs.
The respiratory system allows a person to breathe and exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. It consists of the nasal passages, larynx, trachea, bronchial tubes and lungs.
Asanas and Pranayama in Yoga improve the overall efficiency and health of our respiratory system by increasing air intake and breathing control through inhaling exerises such as Kapalabhati. These exercises work out the diaphragm as well as develops stronger muscles and more elastic tissues.While Nauli and Uddiyana Bandha encourage deeper exhalation, Locust Pose (Salabhasana) and Peacock Pose (Mayurasana) deepen inhalation and improve breath retention.
The major functions of the breathing and respiratory system:
- Transport nutrients from the digestive tract to all parts of the body.
- Transport oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.
- Transport carbon dioxide and other wastes from cells to excretory organs such as the lungs, the sweat glands of the skin and the urinary system.
- Transport hormones from the endocrine glands to various parts of the body.
- Help to maintain body temperature.
- Help to maintain fluid balance.
- Protect the body against disease.
In general, asanas that move your spine in all directions, stretch and strengthen the muscles all round your upper torso, help support your respiratory system by keeping your relevant muscles strong and flexible. Breathing practice such as gradual lengthening of equal breath, on the other hand, help lengthen your inhalation and exhalation, while rapid inhalating and exhaling, like the Skull Shining breath, exercises your breathing muscles to an even greater extend.
Physical yoga poses that support the respiratory system expands the lungs and give them space to breathe, which in turn activates our different body parts and help stimulates blood flow.
Both asanas and breathing practice are gateways to purifying the mind, body and intellect. If we can control our respiration, we can control every aspect of our being and lead a better and healthier life.