I recently posed for several pictures for a new book that's coming out soon--Take a Deep Breath, from Square One Publishers, co-written by me and my friend Dr. Sandra McLanahan. The book offers information on how to deal with breathing disorders, such as asthma, and COPD. Also, there are several yoga-based exercises that can be done by folks with lung disease, and it got me thinking about chair yoga.
If you have a chair and you can breathe, you can do yoga at the chair. It's easier than getting up and down off the floor as you do in a regular yoga class, but you can still improve flexibility, build your strength, and expand your breathing capacity when you do the simple exercises that are provided in the book. The best thing is building your vitality!
Dr. McLanahan brings her brilliance to the subject, discussing everything from the structure and function of the respiratory system, to things that can help repair the lungs, such as natural remedies, diet, herbs, and exercise-- which is where I come in. In the second half of the book, I demonstrate several different stretches. The chair poses are good for flexibility and muscle tone. The standing poses--also done using a chair--are good for building strength. There are also some deeply relaxing poses that will open the chest to allow fresh blood and oxygen to flow into the lungs.
Later in the book we provide some meditative practices and some helpful visualization sessions. It's so important when faced with a breathing challenge that we have tools to get us out of that frightening state of breathlessness. Regular meditation can train the mind to relax before we get into trouble.
And of course, there is a chapter on the breathing practices themselves. Slow steady breathing is known to bring on the relaxation response, which can be your best friend when you're feeling breathless or anxious. Plus, the extra oxygen you're bringing into your body will help you feel better. Imagine that you are waking up unused parts of the lungs with every inhale--the lungs are known to have redundancy! It's best to do 20 minutes of these exercises every day.
So grab a chair! Start your chair yoga practice today and start feeling your old self again!