How Ayurveda Can Boost Lung Health
Our respiratory system is a true powerhouse for our bodies: it provides oxygen and prana, or the Ayurvedic vital life force, to the rest of our bodies. It’s fundamentally necessary for our survival, mediating between the external environment and our internal nourishment. As such, it’s very important to protect our lungs and respiratory health, which can be impeded by a number of factors, ranging from external pollutants to everyday lifestyle practices.
An Ayurvedic perspective on lung health can help us formulate a targeted approach for maximizing our respiratory capacities and minimizing disease. Read on to find out more about what our lungs reveal about our greater constitution, and tips for how to best support this vital system.
The Doshas and Lung Conditions
Each dosha, when imbalanced, is more likely to lead to the development of certain respiratory conditions over others. If you’re experiencing respiratory discomfort or illness, understanding the relationship between the doshas and lung health can help you figure out which dosha you might need to bring back into balance.
An excess of Pitta is connected to infectious respiratory conditions, such as bronchial disorders and other respiratory infections.
An excess of Vata can lead to asthmatic disorders, including cough, sore or hoarse throat and difficulty breathing.
An excess of Kapha is linked to most mucus-related symptoms, in addition to colds, cough and congestion. Furthermore, Kapha is an especially dominant presence in the lungs and stomach, which is where mucus can develop and travel to other parts of the respiratory tract, leading to more serious imbalances. As a result, while imbalanced Pitta and Vata can contribute to negative respiratory symptoms, Kapha plays an especially important role in contributing to respiratory imbalance.
Other Causes of Lung Irritation & Respiratory Imbalance
Naturally, toxins in the surrounding air—whether resulting from industrial pollution or car exhaust, pollen or dust—can cause our respiratory system to become irritated and imbalanced when we spend time outdoors. While these facts of the environment are not something we can assert individual control over, one way to reduce the damage caused by pollutants is to limit time spent outside during periods in which excess pollen or other toxins are being produced.
Eating fatty, heavy, oily foods, or foods that dull the mind and body, like alcohol and meats, can all contribute to an excess buildup of Kapha in ways that harm our health. In addition, eating or drinking in excess can further exacerbate this imbalance.
Seasonal Changes & Allergies
This is another factor whose external elements we can’t necessarily control: different seasons bring on different environmental conditions, all of which have a unique effect on our bodies and doshic constitutions. However, that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to the changing of the seasons. Understanding which kind of allergies you are experiencing can in turn empower you to take a dosha-informed approach to improving your symptoms. To learn more about the relationship between doshas and allergies, check out our blog post here.
Too Much or Too Little Exercise
While too much exercise can cause you to overexert and strain your lungs, too little exercise can reduce your lungs’ capacity for oxygen intake. When exercising regularly with an appropriate amount of strenuousness, you boost your intake of oxygen, promote strong digestion and more. To figure out the best way to exercise according to your dosha, you can check out our blog post here.
Other Tips for Boosting Lung Health
In addition to responding to the changes in your external environment, making sure to exercise and avoiding Kapha-stimulating foods, there are a number of other Ayurvedic practices that boost lung health and maximize oxygen intake.
Yoga is a powerful Ayurvedic practice that enhances both mind and body through exercises that connect the breath and movement. Yoga is a powerful practice for moderating one’s breathing and maximizing the vital flow of oxygen throughout the body. As research has demonstrated, yoga’s powerful benefits include lower breathing and heart rates, lower cholesterol levels and increased blood flow to the intestines and vital organs.
There are a number of ways to build a targeted yoga practice responsive to your individual needs and goals. Whatever routine you choose, your lungs will thank you regardless. Here are several of our past blogs exploring the different beneficial aspects of yoga:
Within yogic practice, pranayama is a breathwork technique that keeps oxygen flowing through the body, which in turn has tranquilizing and cleansing effects. Centering pranayama at the heart of your practice (regardless of what approach you decide to take) will be vital in boosting your lung health over the long term.
There are several different pranayama practices that hold special benefits for each dosha, including alternate nostril breathing and cooling breathing. To learn more about pranayama and how to tailor your practice to your dosha, check out our blog here.
Lastly, there are several Ayurvedic herbs that hold potent benefits for respiratory health. Incorporating a couple of these herbs into your diet or through supplements can be a great way to seamlessly support your lungs: