Do you know that yoga can help improve the function of your respiratory system? It’s true! Yoga poses such as Child’s Pose and Camel Pose help to stretch and strengthen the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of your lungs that helps you breathe. When it is weak, you may experience difficulty breathing, especially when exercising. That’s why practicing yoga can be so beneficial for people with respiratory problems. In this article, we will discuss how yoga can help to strengthen the diaphragm and improve respiratory function.
What Does Yoga’s Diaphragmatic Breathing Mean?
When we talk about diaphragmatic breathing, or “yogic” breathing, we’re referring to a specific way of breathe that engages the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large, flat muscle located at the bottom of the lungs. When we breathe normally, the diaphragm contracts and moves downward into the abdominal cavity. This action causes the lungs to expand and air rushes in to fill them. Diaphragmatic breathing is different because it reverses this process. The diaphragm still contracts, but instead of moving downward it moves upward into the chest cavity. This contraction creates negative pressure in the lungs and air rushes in to fill them.
Benefits of Yoga to Strengthen The Diaphragm
Yoga can provide many benefits to those who practice it regularly. One of the lesser known benefits is that yoga can actually help to strengthen the diaphragm. Let us explore how yoga can help to strengthen this important muscle.
The diaphragm is a large muscle that runs across the bottom of the rib cage. It is responsible for helping us to breathe in and out. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and pulls down on the lungs, allowing them to fill with air. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and pushes up on the lungs, helping them to empty out all of the used air.
Because the diaphragm is such an important muscle for breathing, it is essential that we keep it healthy and strong. Unfortunately, many of us do not use this muscle to its full potential. This can lead to the diaphragm becoming weak and unusable.
Yoga is a great way to strengthen the diaphragm. There are a number of different yoga poses that can help to tone and strengthen this muscle. Some of the best poses for strengthening the diaphragm include:
Cobra Pose: This pose helps to stretch out the front of the body while also strengthening the back muscles. This is a great pose for those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or in a car.
Downward Facing Dog: This pose helps to stretch out the entire back side of the body. It is also a great way to strengthen the arms and legs.
Upward Facing Dog: This pose helps to stretch out the front of the body while also strengthening the back muscles. This is a great pose for those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or in a car.
Belly breathing: One of the simplest pose. To do this pose, simply lie on your back with your hands on your stomach. As you inhale, focus on pushing your stomach out. You should feel your diaphragm contracting and moving upward. Exhale slowly, allowing your stomach to return to its normal position.
- Helps relieve stress and tension
- Promotes deeper and longer breaths
- Can be done anywhere, any time
- Requires no equipment or special clothes
Camel pose: another pose that can help improve diaphragmatic breathing. This is a more advanced pose, so if you’re just starting out you may want to ask a yoga instructor for assistance. To do the pose, start by kneeling on the ground with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your lower back with the fingers pointing downward. As you inhale, arch your back and tilt your head back. You should feel a stretch in your chest and abdomen. Exhale and return to the starting position.
- Improve your diaphragmatic breathing
- Get a more advanced stretch
- Tone and strengthen your abs, chest, and back
- Increase flexibility
What medical conditions does it help with?
People of all ages can benefit from the physical and mental health benefits of yoga. Yoga can also be an important element of your treatment if you’re recuperating from surgery, dealing with an illness, or have a chronic disease. This could potentially speed up your recovery. Yoga can help with a variety of medical issues, including:
- Digestive disorders
- High blood pressure
- Pain relief
Yoga also helps to improve overall cardiovascular health. It does this by helping to lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels. Yoga can also help to regulate blood sugar levels. Additionally, yoga has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular yoga practice can also help to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
How does yoga do all of this?
Yoga strengthens the diaphragm in two ways. First, by teaching you how to breathe deeply and slowly from your abdomen, and second, by toning the muscles of the diaphragm. When you breathe deeply, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward, massaging your internal organs and promoting blood flow and circulation. This not only helps to improve digestion but also helps to release toxins from your body. Additionally, deep breathing helps to increase lung capacity and can even help to reduce stress levels.
- Deep breathing helps to improve digestion
- Releases toxins from your body
- Increases lung capacity
- Reduces stress levels
By toning the muscles of the diaphragm, yoga also helps to prevent or alleviate hiatal hernias (a condition in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity). Yoga can also help to improve overall posture and alignment.
Do You Need Vinyasa Yoga Classes You Can Trust?
Vinyasa Flow classes at Yoga Flow SF mix traditional yoga poses with athletic movements to create a vigorous and balanced workout. Our instructors’ energy during the class is infectious, making it an empowering experience for all levels of practitioners—from beginner to advanced. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or just need something more challenging in your life, our heated live-music sessions will make the most out of every session! We offer modifications that simplify the poses to be more suitable for beginners or some that amplify them for our advanced practitioners so you can choose which one is better suited based on your skill level! Specifically, this type of yoga really helps with creating strength and flexibility in both body AND mind while challenging us to grow into stronger versions of ourselves. Book your first class now at one of our San Francisco locations or our new location in downtown Walnut Creek!