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The Key to Fighting Respiratory Illness: Pranayama Practice

Breathe In. Breathe Out. Breathing is something that occurs all day, every day, as a means to provide oxygen (and therefore energy) to the cells of our body. The act of breathing is something that does not have to be actively and consciously perform because it automatically occurs via the autonomic nervous system. When we exercise, or the fight or flight system is activated, the nervous system alters the breathing pattern to ensure enough oxygen is getting to the body. Although breathing occurs automatically most of the time, it can also be manipulated by consciously breathing in, and breathing out, also known as pranayama.

Pranayama is the yogic practice of breathing aimed to focus the mind, relax the body, and provide rejuvenation. Recent research also suggests that breathing practices can help recovery from Covid-19. A study published by BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation indicates that those who had Covid-19 and performed respiratory exercises showed improved oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and heart rate measures within 7 days compared to those that did not participate in breathing exercises. The mechanism of improvement, per the paper, suggests "that breathing exercise improves respiratory muscle function, ribcage flexibility, gas exchange, and may decrease blood pressure, respiratory rate, and stress" (Read More). In addition to improving oxygen, respiratory rate, and heart rate in those with Covid-19, breathing practices can also help reduce stress and anxiety, reduce negative affect, and improve attention according to a 2017 study published on Frontiers of Psychology (read more).

The best part: breathing exercises are something that can be practiced anywhere, anytime.

How to Get Started

  1. Find a quiet space

  2. Settle into a comfortable sitting, standing or laying down posture

  3. Commit to practicing for 2-3 minutes (and work your way up)

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Inhale through your nose

  2. Feel your chest rise and your ribs and chest expand

  3. Continue to inhale letting your belly expand

  4. Exhale through your mouth letting your belly fall and your chest drop

  5. Repeat focusing on smooth and complete breaths

Diaphragmatic Breathing

4-7-8 Breathing

  1. Inhale smoothly and completely through your nose over a 4 second duration

  2. Hold for 7 seconds. Keep your face, jaw, and chest relaxed

  3. Exhale smoothly and completely through your mouth over an 8 second duration

  4. Repeat

4-7-8 Breathing for Covid-19 stress and anxiety

Box Breathing

  1. Inhale smoothly through your nose over a 4 second duration

  2. Hold for 4 seconds

  3. Exhale smoothly through your mouth for 4 second duration

  4. Hold for 4 seconds

  5. Repeat. (Goal of increasing breathes and holds for 5 seconds and then 6 seconds.)

Box Breathing for stress HR anxiety Covid-19

Although breathing is "easy", it can get complicated and feel overwhelming when doing specific breathing exercise patterns! Need more guidance or help getting started? Sign up for an in-person or virtual yoga session: Book Here

Dr Jessica Klain PT, DPT, COMT, CSCS, OCS, CNPT

Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)

Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (COMT)

Certified Nutritional Physical Therapist (CNPT)

Certified Vestibular Specialist

Certified Concussion Specialist

Trigger Point Dry Needling Certified, Level 1&2

Certified Yoga Teacher

University of Florida, Doctorate in Physical Therapy (2009)

The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology (2006)

Call/text: 720-295-0060


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