Breath is life.
Thanks to our lungs, this gift of life is delivered. More than a physical organ, the lungs are connected to our state of being, linked to emotions, and ultimately behind our self-expression to the world. Yes, the lungs are that complex.
As we travel through the autumn season, lung health takes front stage making these tips I share ones you can begin practicing today.
Each season brings us new beginnings, underlying energies, and challenges. As we travel through the autumn season, just as Nature is letting go of what it no longer needs, we’re being asked to do the same. Our lungs are connected to this experience and the reason why lung difficulties, whether a persistent cough, asthma, or bronchitis surface more frequently at this time of year.
Use these 6 tips to support healthy lungs throughout this season and moving forward.
- Choose Moistening Foods:
Foods are more than calories and nutrients. Foods consist of many characteristics including having an internal drying or moistening effect. Moistening foods are expansive and assist in keeping balance in times of excess heat or drying circumstances; two conditions that challenge the lungs. Moistening foods to support healthy lungs, especially during the windy, dry autumn season, include almonds, beets, barley, coconut, honey, millet, mushrooms, pears, and seaweed.
- Add Pungent Flavor to Cooking:
Flavors go beyond taste. Flavors have an intrinsic quality that nourishes specific organs. The pungent flavor expansively moves energy and blood flow opening airways, clearing congestion, and stimulating the lungs. Help keep your lungs clear by adding garlic, scallions, ginger, horseradish, basil, fennel, and rosemary to your cooking. I find a scallion tea quite helpful.
- Remain Hydrated:
Staying hydrated is essential to respiratory health. Hydration helps maintain the lining of the lungs, improve oxygen exchange, decrease mucous buildup, and ward off inflammation. Choose room temperature to warm water and herbal teas such as star anise/citrus or turmeric/ginger. You can also contribute to your hydration by eating more liquid-medium meals such as soups and stews.
- Daily Breathing Exercises:
Practicing diaphragmatic or deep breathing cleanses the lungs, improves oxygen delivery to the body, and elicits a calming effect. Start with a counting breath practice. Close your eyes. Slowly take an inhale through your nose for a count of five. Fill up with as much air as you can breathe in; try one more sip, hold, and then exhale through your nose for the same count of five. When you get to the end of the exhale, see if you can breathe out just a little more, emptying completely, and pause for a few seconds before your next inhale. Do this for ten rounds of breath. See if you can do this daily.
- Stay Physically Active:
Regular physical activity helps to strengthen respiratory muscles, increase lung volume, and deliver oxygen more effectively to the body. The results are clear respiratory airways, more energy, decreased inflammation, and restorative sleep. Choose an aerobic activity, using large muscles in a rhythmic fashion. Some options include cycling, swimming, running, and the elliptical at the gym. Use an intensity that challenges you. It’s supposed to feel difficult and outside your comfort zone. That’s how we elevate our physiology!
- Laugh Often:
Along with taking deeper breaths is the ability to clear out the residual, stale air stuck in the lungs. A perfect way to do that is by laughing. When we laugh, our exhalation is longer helping to clear out any stale air. We then inhale a deeper breath, bringing more oxygenated air into our lungs. Think of laughing as a lung cleanse! A bonus is as we’re laughing, the body naturally releases endorphins, our feel-good happiness molecules. Go ahead and be playful with a friend. Join a laughter yoga class. Attend a comedy show. Allow yourself time each day to laugh.
The lungs are directly linked to the art of letting go. As you begin practicing these tips, consider reflecting on what in your life (beliefs/emotions/circumstances) is no longer serving you. What have you outgrown? What can you let go of so that you can clear away the old and make room for new?
If you wish to dive into your connection with Nature, what’s behind each season and how to align, consider The Hidden Messages in Food Online Course. Self-paced, built-in guidance, practical strategies, and lifetime access.