Breathing exercises to boost your respiratory system

By Jyoti Dabas

Breathing exercises are a great way to develop the lungs as they improve lung muscles, clear out any secretion and increase the capacity by supplying an adequate amount of oxygen. These exercises also help us stay calmer, and de-stress especially in these unprecedented times we are living in.

These  breathing exercises you can do at any time of the day and in any comfortable space.

Deep breathing

This is very easy yet very important. It helps in strengthening our lungs and improving blood flow, immunity and eliminating stress and anxiety.


* Sit down in a relaxed position, take a deep breath and count your inhalation and exhalation. Ideally, your inhalation and exhalation counts should be the same.

* With each breath increase the count to inhale and exhale for as long as comfortable. Practise from 2 to 5 minutes duration.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Also known as belly breathing, or abdominal breathing, this exercise has benefits such as managing irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Normally people get in the habit of breathing without fully utilizing the lower part of their lungs. With this technique, you consciously practise filling in lungs to their maximum capacity and increasing oxygen uptake.


* Lie flat on the floor or sit in a comfortable position and relax your shoulders

* Put one hand below your chest and just above your stomach (this is where your diaphragm sits)

* Take a deep breath in by expanding your diaphragm or stomach and exhale slowly.

Cardiovascular exercise

Cardiovascular exercises increase your heart rate which forces the respiratory system to become more efficient and eventually increases the amount of oxygen you take with each breath. This allows for your lungs to improve capacity and function better. Some common cardiovascular exercises you can do from the comfort of your home: brisk walking, spot jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks and climbing staircase.


More commonly known as alternate nostril breathing, it has been spoken about in the Hatha Yoga literature. This pranayama  helps clear out the nasal passage and improves respiratory muscle strength. It is advised that Anulom-vilom should be practiced on an empty stomach ideally in the morning or in the evening.


* Sit on a chair or on the ground cross-legged, in a meditation position

* With your right thumb, close your right nostril and inhale through the left. Release your right nostril and with your middle and ring finger, close your left nostril exhaling through the right nostril

* Inhale through the right nostril, then release the fingers, closing the right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril

* Continue the slow breathing through alternate nostrils and focus on the breath.

The author is founder & CEO, Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Science, Mumbai

Image courtesy of Illustration courtesy The Statesman

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