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Lord of the Dance pose stretches the chest for greater oxygen flow to the lungs.
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Most people look to yoga to strengthen muscles and joints, trim fat, acquire balance and calm and beautify their bodies. But rarely do people consider that specific still poses in yoga can also provide exercise for the internal organs. Yes, certain yoga poses are excellent for opening the chest for extended periods, forcing awareness of breathing patterns, allowing more oxygen to enter the body and, ultimately, giving the lungs a healthy workout.
Standing yoga poses for the lungs all have two things in common -- at least one foot remains flat on the floor and at least one arm is elevated above the chest. Arms lifted above the chest allow for easier air passage to the lungs. So if you ever need a deeper breath, just lift your arms. Some standing poses are easier than others to perform because they don't put the body into a position that deviates the natural alignment of the spine. These include the Big Toe pose, Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe pose, Extended Side Angle pose, Lord of the Dance pose, Revolved Side Angle pose and Warrior I and Warrior II poses.
Kneeling yoga poses require you to keep at least one knee touching the floor. Kneeling poses that allow for maximum oxygen flow to your lungs -- by extending one or both arms above your head -- are the Extended Puppy pose, Gate pose and Low Lunge. Cat pose and Cow pose place palms and knees flat on the floor. Exhalations are maximized during Cat pose when your spine is rounded up toward the ceiling. Inhalations are maximized during Cow Pose when your chest is lifted up toward the ceiling and your stomach drops toward the floor. Be careful with kneeling poses if you have sustained injuries to the knees.
Prone yoga poses for the lungs stretch the chest while the lower body remains pressed against the floor. Half Frog pose opens the chest as the entire torso remains elevated from the floor while supporting the body weight on one arm. Cobra pose is very similar to Half Frog except the body weight is supported by both arms because both palms remain flat on the floor. The passage of air is maximized by keeping the torso vertical. Locust Pose opens the chest with the arms lifted up and back. Locust posers lie prone with only their bellies touching the floor. Sphinx pose is safest for the lower back because exercisers lie down with their elbows, abdomens and lower bodies flat on the floor.
Backward Rounded-Back Poses
Doing backward rounded-back poses is an advanced way to stretch your chest. In fact, they contort your upper body into positions that seem to drastically separate the thoracic activity -- the part of your body that holds your heart and lungs -- from the abdominal cavity. Not only do they look very difficult to perform but they place a lot of pressure on the neck and lower back by unnaturally rounding the spine backward so the head and feet are parallel to each other. These poses include the King Pigeon pose, Upward Bow or Wheel pose, and Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff pose.