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Is pollution choking you? Try these pranayama routines | Health and Wellness News

Winter months bring in the woes of rising pollution levels all over the country. At a preliminary level, pollution causes watery, itchy eyes, breathing problems, cough, cold and irritation in the throat. It is particularly harmful for children and senior citizens, resulting in asthma and bronchial problems.

There are two pranayamas which can help — Kapalbhati and Bhastrika.

Kapalbhati: This is a rapid breathing practice involving exhalation, inhalation being just peremptory. It helps clean up the lungs right up to the alveoli in the inferior lobes of the lungs where a lot of carbon and other toxins accumulate. It cleans the nasal and the entire respiratory tract.


· Sit comfortably cross-legged or on any chair or reasonably hard surface if you cannot sit down on a yoga mat.

· Ensure that your back and head are in a straight line and erect. Relax your whole body.

· Close your eyes.

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· Focus on your normal, natural flow of breath for a few rounds of inhalation-exhalation so as to internalise and centre your mind.

· Exhale forcefully through both nostrils. The stomach will automatically be drawn in and there is a hissing sound.

· Do not forcefully pull your stomach in. It must be an automatic, involuntary movement.

· The next exhalation must follow immediately, giving barely any space for inhalation as such.

· Thus, you do a series of exhalations.

· At first you can start with 10 rounds.

· Slowly build it up to at least 50 counts.

Bhastrika: This is similar practice but involves both forceful inhalations and exhalations in rapid succession. Besides affecting the respiratory and digestive organs, it creates heat, which activates the metabolic rate and helps flush out toxins and waste matter.


· Sit comfortably as for Kapalbhati.

· Watch your normal breath for a few rounds so that your mind is centred on your breath.

· Start with forceful exhalation and immediately follow it up with forceful inhalation.

· There will be a hissing sound when you inhale and exhale.

· As you inhale and exhale, there will be concomitant movement of your stomach area. It will move in with every exhalation and move out with every breath you take in.

· For some people, the stomach movement is not rightly synchronised. They must first bring about this synchronisation before they start the practice.

· The stomach movement is involuntary and automatic.

· One inhalation and exhalation makes one round.

· Do this in rapid succession to begin with for 10 rounds.

· Slowly build it up to 50 rounds or more depending on your capacity and stamina and time available.

Those with any of the problems mentioned above can do the single nostril breathing.


· Sit with the back and head in one line with your whole body relaxed.

· Raise your right hand and close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand.

· Close your eyes.

· Breathe deep through your left nostril, breathing in and out as long as possible without strain.

· Do a minimum of 10 rounds.

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· Then close your left nostril with your ring finger and open your right nostril.

· Breathe as you did for the left nostril.

· Do a minimum of 10 rounds.

Try to use an air filter mask when outdoors, do a warm salt water gargle every morning and before going to sleep, wash your eyes with cold water, morning and evening. Do steam inhalation, drink warm water throughout the day. Work from home as far as possible.

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