Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion School
Ayurveda teaches how to calm one's breath to live a long and vital life. The slower and deeper the rate of respiration, the longer the lifespan. The quicker and shallower the respiration, the shorter life will be. This example can be seen in nature. A tortoise takes just three to four breaths per minute and will live to 100 years and beyond. A mouse, on the other hand, takes between 100 to 200 breaths a minute and lives just a few short years.
The health of the respiratory system lies not just with the lungs, but also the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi and the brain. Ayurvedically, all three doshas function together in the respiratory system. Vata in the nervous system controls the breath rate, depth of inhalation and the flow of prana (prana vayu). Pitta's heat is responsible for maintaining blood flow to the lungs. Kapha in the respiratory system (avalambaka kapha) maintains adequate fluid secretions in the lungs so gaseous exchange to occur. It lubricates, supports and protects the heart and lungs.
Inflammatory conditions in the lungs are due to an excess of Pitta and, in many cases, the liver needs to be cleaned and cooled to restore balance. A dry, wheezing cough can be the result of a frayed nervous system and have its roots in a dry, congested colon. Clearing the bowels and pacifying Vata in the intestines can, in certain case, relieve a persistent respiratory problem. Ayurveda does not simply look at the lungs. It looks to find the root cause of an imbalance and treats each case individually, rather than a 'one size fits all' approach. In this manner, complete healing can be achieved, rather than temporarily masking symptoms.
One of the most common complaints in relation to respiration is congestion. Congestion can occur in the lungs, nose or sinuses and leaves you feeling dull and drained as your body struggles to get enough oxygen. In most cases, mucus is associated with cold, slimy Kapha. However, certain types of mucus and congestion can also indicate that Pitta or Vata are at play. Learn how to recognise and manage each type here.
Tightness and constriction in the respiratory tract can also be caused by all three doshas. They can be the result of an accumulation or blockage of Kapha mucus, inflammation due to excess Pitta, but most commonly, they are a result of Vata which causes constriction, spasms and narrowing of the breathing passages. The dry, rough qualities of Vata can lead to a persistent dry cough, wheezing and tightness in the chest. It is often inter-related with dry bowels, constipation, anxiety and stress.
Inflammation can affect lining of the lungs. The space between the two layers of the lining of the lungs (pleura) can fill with fluid and irritation and pain can worsen with each breath. Inflamed lungs feel hot and rough. Allergies and infection can lead to this aggravation. Ayurvedically, it is due to an excess of hot, sharp and liquid sadhaka pitta in the respiratory system and ranjaka pitta in the liver.
Find Ayurvedic health tips In these main areas:Nose and Sinuses