BY: Camila Loew
The threat of Covid19 has brought worldwide attention towards our respiratory health. But you don't even need to be sick to make improvements on your respiratory health and lung capacity. For those of us who think we are breathing just fine, it can come as a surprise to learn that there is lots of room for improvement, and what a big difference a little bit of breathing can make.
We often hold our breath without even noticing it. Once we start paying attention to it, our breath can be a useful tool to measure how the body and mind are feeling. We don't need to focus on the breath constantly, but it can be a good idea to pause every now and then to realize how -and even if- we are breathing. When we become mindful of our breath and bring our awareness to the inhale and exhale, there is an instant release, and the body starts to breathe in a more natural, flowing way, oxygenating our cells and making us feel better.
Sometimes we need some help, a kind of friendly reminder to breathe. Here are some ideas or tricks to help you remember to let your breath flow: one way to do this is to use a meditation app. Meditating for even a few minutes a day can make a big difference; the idea is that after some training, the flow of mindful breathing on the cushion carries over to your time off the cushion.
If you don't feel ready to sit and meditate, you can set an alarm on your phone a few times a day and use it as a reminder to pause and take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths.
Exercise is a great way to improve your lung capacity, though there's no need to become a runner or high performance athlete to breathe better: a brisk walking or bike riding work just as well, and can improve not only lung but also heart health.
Believe it or not, laughing is also wonderful for lung function, and both exercise and laughing can work towards improving our general wellbeing.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants -namely, all those colorful fruits and vegetables- is always a good way to stay healthy, and will work on our lungs as well. When you are indoors, make sure the space is well ventilated with good air circulation, and you can choose to use air filters to improve air quality, if that's a concern or if you are working in a shared space.
Facial masks are currently the world-wide used form to help filter out unwanted viruses, but for those of us not used to accustomed to wearing them, they can take some getting used to. Cokare's Respiratory Wellness patch, with eucalyptus as its key ingredient, can help you feel like your lungs are able to expand a bit, even when the intake of air might feel more constricted.
Overall, our advice is to start by stopping: take a pause and a breath or two. Then move on to the abovementioned tips, including the Cokare Respiratory Wellness patch. Keep in mind that in traditional Chinese medicine the lungs are the governing organ of Qi or energy, dispersing it throughout the entire body. We really want that to flow easily, for general wellbeing.