Yoga and Meditation for Mental Health & Respiratory Concerns
Inhalational exposures to toxic environmental, occupational, and behavioral pollutants are among the leading causes of chronic respiratory diseases worldwide.
These respiratory concerns can affect people of various age groups and vary from milder ones, like simple allergies, to severe ones, like lung-related cancer conditions.
For example, older individuals may experience life-threatening conditions like mesothelioma, a rare respiratory condition linked to asbestos exposure.
People, especially older adults, who are less likely to recover from rare health conditions can supplement their treatments with complementary therapies like yoga and meditation.
So, while mesothelioma has no cure, knowing the different stages of mesothelioma and its symptoms can help you determine appropriate treatment options to improve one’s quality of life.
Meanwhile, perhaps you’re an older adult with a respiratory condition and want to know how yoga and meditation can improve your overall well-being.
You might also wonder how people, especially older adults with respiratory concerns, can start practicing yoga and meditation.
This article discusses the potential therapeutic benefits of yoga and meditation for people, especially seniors, with respiratory concerns.
The write-up also lists and explains easy and simple meditation and yoga poses to help improve your health, particularly respiratory health.
3 Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for People With Respiratory Conditions
Yoga respiratory exercises are low-cost, easy-to-perform activities that may positively impact the cardiorespiratory system.
Additionally, yoga and meditation can help improve a respiratory patient’s quality of life.
Here are three ways yoga and meditation can improve respiratory conditions:
Improving Lung Capacity
Repeated inspiration and expiration, as done during pranayama (yoga breathing and meditation exercises), may result in optimal shortening of inspiratory muscles. Consequently, this effect can help improve lung function.
Specifically, yoga can increase the following lung-related factors:
- Breath-holding time
- Vital capacity
- Timed vital capacity
- Maximum voluntary ventilation
- Maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures
Enhancing Quality of Life
Yoga can also help respiratory patients’ have increased enjoyment or quality of life. For instance, yoga therapy may buffer against disease and adverse treatment-related consequences.
Regular yoga can also boost one’s mental health. For instance, this activity can help you manage stress better.
Yoga can also be an effective strategy for people who want to quit smoking, a known risk factor for respiratory disease.
Lastly, yoga may help you sleep better.
Yoga, breathing, and meditation can decrease blood pressure and slow heart rate. Breathing and meditation can also help your body prepare for a restful night's sleep.
Helping You With Breath Awareness
An unhealthy breathing pattern, including excessive abdominal tension, can make breathing difficult and cause respiratory issues.
Practicing breath awareness and attention to your chest and belly movements may help identify any existing breathing problems.
A healthy inhale expands your chest and ribs slightly. Your belly rises or bulges forward. Meanwhile, an exhale relaxes your belly, chest, and ribs back to normal positions.
3 Easy-to-Perform Yoga and Meditation Poses for People With Respiratory Concerns
Savasana or corpse pose may help respiratory patients experiencing chronic pain to relax. For instance, this yoga pose may help calm your nerves and even let you meditate.
The corpse pose usually goes like this:
Step 1: Lie on your back and relax your legs and arms.
Step 2: Extend arms sideways with palms facing up.
Step 3: Focus on your breath and body for a few minutes.
You can use an eye pillow or soft cloth to block out light and relax your pupils. You can cover your lower belly with a block, pillow, or folded blanket for additional comfort.
Extended Triangle Pose
This yoga posture is known as Utthita Trikonasana in Sanskrit.
Extended triangle pose requires good concentration and steady breathing, which may help people with respiratory concerns fully engage in the present moment. This potential benefit can help them address their symptoms calmly and with a balanced approach.
Extending the triangle pose follows these steps:
Step 1: Stand with your right foot three to four feet apart from your left foot.
Step 2: Rotate your body to the right and push your left hip toward your left heel.
Step 3: Position your left hand near your ankle. With your right arm raised and fingertips pointing upward, bend as far as you can.
Step 4: Keep your torso parallel to the ground. You must also align your neck and torso.
Step 5: Look up at your right hand while taking two to three deep breaths. Follow the same steps on the other side.
Sitting Down Meditation Poses
Here are some sitting-down meditation poses for people with respiratory concerns:
- The Half Lotus: This pose lets you cross your legs while resting your foot on the opposite thigh. Fold the bottom leg below the knee or thigh to rest the opposite foot.
- The Quarter Lotus: This pose involves sitting on your meditation cushion with your legs slightly crossed and your feet underneath the opposite knee or thigh.
- The Burmese Position: If you cannot cross your legs while seated, it's acceptable. Let your feet rest flat on the ground while you relax.
- Seiza: You can kneel and rest a cushion between your legs instead of sitting cross-legged.