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Healthy Lungs, Healthy Life

by Stacey Kaplan LAc, LMT


I hope you're staying healthy and as sane as possible. It's been so wonderful connecting with some of you via video sessions! I never envisioned my work translating well without needles or physical proximity, but the sessions I've had so far with you have been remarkably fulfilling and productive. It's been so enriching for me to help you navigate through the issues coming up using only what you already have. Thank you for continuing to allow me to help you problem solve through some of the inevitable struggles and challenges coming up during this time.

Since this virus primarily attacks the lungs and stifles breathing, I've found it's been even more important to focus on breathing techniques during this time. Also, in Chinese medicine, the lungs are responsible for keeping the outer-most layer of Qi in the body (analogous to the immune system) healthy and robust, able to clear out pathogens and let in the good stuff. So here are some simple, but effective, exercises to help keep your lungs (and your whole body) clear and hardy, ready to interact with the outside whenever we're allowed to do that again.
1. Belly breathing. Breathing deeply into your belly has been proven to calm the nervous system and help ease the body out of "fight or flight" mode. This exercise takes anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes, depending on how much time you have. This can be done throughout the day in between tasks, before & after big meetings, or whenever you feel like you could use some grounding and centering.

Sit comfortably, feet on the floor and spine erect without straining. Close your eyes, or just soften your gaze. Feel the grounding and support of your feet on the floor and your butt on the chair. Feel a slight pulling up toward the ceiling from the top of your head so that all the vertebrae of your spine can gently stack one on top of the other. Your head stacks on top, in alignment with your spine. Place one hand on top of the other & over your navel. Focus on taking 10 breaths into your belly, feeling the rise and fall of your hands with each breath. Try to keep your chest as quiet as possible, it will move naturally, but you want the biggest movement happening in your belly. There is no need to "quiet the mind" or "relax" here, though that may happen as you do this, it is not the focus of this exercise, so don't put that pressure on yourself here. After at least 10 breaths (you can do more if you want), bring your awareness back to the grounding of your feet & butt and slowly open your eyes to face what's next in your day.

2. Shake, vibrate, dance, move! Clear your lungs and whole body of stagnation by vigorously shaking and moving your body for about a minute, or more when you can. When possible, put on music and call it dancing. Really move all of your limbs and your spine vigorously to release anything that's been getting pent up in your body. Do this after a stressful meeting, a tough interaction with family or friends, or whenever you feel the need to release unwanted energy.

3. Open your chest throughout the day by clasping your hands behind your back and taking some breaths into that openness. You can also bolster your hand or whole forearm on a door frame, and lean your body in the open doorway to stretch out the muscles of the front of your chest. Be sure to take 1-3 breaths while you are in these positions.

These are just a couple ways that we can help keep our lungs, and whole body, healthy while in isolation. There are lots of different techniques that we can utilize for specific ailments including breathing techniques, acupressure, qi gong exercises, feng shui adjustments and Chinese herbs and dietary changes. Let me know if you'd like to set up a video session to discuss your individual needs!

I am happy to talk more in depth about any of these tips, please reach out any time! There is so much information out there right now to help get us through this time, please use and incorporate whatever resonates with you. This is a time to re-set our norms and re-asses our priorities, a time for great growth and unprecedented change!