Yogic Practices for Healthy Immune Lungs

Practicing Yoga is one of the best things you can do for the health of your lungs. Yoga strengthens chest muscles, increases lung capacity and enhances oxygen intake. Noted Yoga Guru Kaithapram Vasudevan Namboodiri explains various Yogic practices that keep your lungs healthy.

The respiratory system is a network of organs and tissues that help you breathe. It consists of two lungs, air passages and blood vessels. The lungs are located in the upper thoracic cavity of the chest, one on each side of the median line, and are separated by the heart, the Great blood vessels and the even larger air tubes. The lungs are spongy, porous and their tissues are elastic, containing innumerable air-sacs or alveoli. Each lung consists of an apex and a base. The base is directed towards the diaphragm, the dividing muscular wall between the chest and the abdomen.

The vital force prana is the life force of all beings. Prana is subtle and breath is gross.  Prana is manifested through breath. So the health or wellness of the respiratory system is vital for an individual to be healthy and disease-free.

First of all the whole respiratory system should be cleansed so that breathing will become effortless and easy. There are six types of cleansing techniques in Yoga called Shad (six) Kriyas -- neti, dhouti, nouli, basti, trataka and kapala bhati. Neti and kapala bhati are connected with the respiratory system.


Neti is for cleaning the nasal passage with water (jala) or string (sutra).

Jala Neti

Now-a-days Neti-pot is available with yoga centres. Fill the pot with lukewarm water and add a little salt to it. Insert the nozzle of the pot into the right nostril. Keep the mouth open and breathe freely through the mouth. Tilt the head first slightly backwards and then sidewards to the left so that the water from the pot enters the right nostril and comes out through the left by gravity. Allow the flow till the pot is empty. Repeat the same with the left nostril. After that, blow out the water by forceful exhalation through alternate nostrils.

Sutra Neti

Here, rubber catheters are used instead of string. Insert the blunt end of the thin soft rubber catheter horizontally to the right nostril. Gently push it inside until the tip is felt in the back of the throat. Open the mouth and catch hold of the tip of the catheter at the back of the throat. (Practitioner can make use of a mirror) Pull it out through the mouth and gently massage the nasal passage by catching the two ends of the tube. Then remove the catheter through the nose. Repeat the same on the left side.


Kapaala is skull and bhaati means shines. Here, the skull is the nasal passage through which the air passes in and out. This is a breathing exercise that makes the skull shine. Forceful exhalation and passive inhalation is the practice done here.

Sit in a cross legged position, with the back straight and the head erect. Take two or three deep breaths as preparation. Contract the abdominal muscles quickly causing the diaphragm to move up into the thoracic cavity and pushing the air out of the lungs forcefully. Then relax the abdominal muscles allowing the diaphragm to descend into the abdominal cavity. Now passive inhalation takes place. Repeat this pumping quickly for 20 to 30 times. Then, have two or three deep breaths and after retention of 30 to 60 seconds, start the second round of pumping.


Breathing practices

To improve and increase the capacity of lungs, there are exercises making use of the movements of hands. These are also called Yogic exercises (yougika vyayam).

1. Stand erect and stretch out the arms in front in level with the shoulders and bring the palms together. While inhaling, spread the arms sideways in the horizontal plane. While exhaling, bring the arms forward with the palms together. Repeat this several times. The movements of the hands and the breath flowing in and out should be synchronising, slow and rhythmic.

2. Stand erect and bring the palms on the chest and interlock the fingers. While inhaling, stretch the arms forward horizontally and also twist the hands so that the palms face outwards. While inhaling, reverse the process. Repeat it five times.

Repeat the same movements with the arms now stretching above forehead at an angle of 135 degree. Repeat the same, stretching the arms vertically above the head. While moving up and down, the palms should touch the tip of the nose.

3. Stand erect with the palms in front of the thighs. While inhaling, stretch and raise the hands through front above the head and also stretch the ankles up.  Hands should be parallel to each other and the palms looking forward. And when exhaling, bring the hands and heels down.

There are many more such practices like Dog Breathing, Rabbit Breathing, Tiger Breathing, Sasaankasana Breathing, Leg-raise Breathing etc. by which the capacity and immunity of the lungs can be increased.


Dog Breathing

Sit in vajrasana. Place the palms of the hands on the ground, beside the knees. Mouth opened wide, tongue pushed out to its maximum, practise rapid and forceful inhalation and exhalation expanding and contracting the abdomen vigorously like a dog. Repeat it for 30 seconds and relax in savasana.

Rabbit Breathing

Sit in vajrasana. Bend forward and rest the forearms on the floor, keeping the elbows by the side of the knees and palms flat on the ground. Open the mouth partially and protrude the tongue partially. Pant quickly like a rabbit. Do it for 20 to 40 breaths. Then relax in savasana.


Tiger Breathing

Sit in vajrasana. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the ground in line with the shoulders with the fingers pointing forward. Arms, thighs and heels should be one shoulder width apart. Arms and thighs are perpendicular to the floor. While inhaling, raise the head and look at the ceiling, spine in concave position. Exhale and arch the spine upwards and bend the head downward bringing the chin towards the chest. Repeat it five times and relax.

Sasaankasana Breathing

Sit in vajrasana. Take the hands behind the back, make a fist of the right hand and hold the right wrist with the left hand. Relax the shoulders. While inhaling, bend backwards while looking up. While exhaling, slowly bend forward and bring the forehead on the ground. Relax the shoulders. Inhale slowly and come to the vertical position. Continue for ten rounds and relax.

Leg-raise Breathing

Lie down in supine posture. While inhaling, slowly raise the right leg without bending the knee, if possible to the vertical position. While exhaling, return the leg to the floor as slowly as possible. Repeat the same with your left leg. Do it ten rounds and relax.



Kaithapram Vasudevan Namboodiri,

MSc.Yoga, UGC. NET. Yoga.

AYUSH-certified Yoga Teacher and Evaluator.

MA. English, MEd.

e-mail: [email protected]

Contact: 9447077203

Kaithapram Vasudevan Namboodiri, MSc.Yoga, UGC. NET. Yoga. AYUSH-certified Yoga Teacher and Evaluater. MA. English, MEd. e-mail: [email protected]

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