In yoga, cleansing and flushing out the lungs can be invigorating. There is an experience of lightness, greater energy, and vitality as the body and mind are energized. Yoga respiratory cleaning is a helpful step in flushing out the mind. People suffering from asthma and allergies have found these yoga practices helpful. However, always consult your doctor and yoga teacher/therapist for your own specific needs.
Depending on individual capability and limitations, certain pranayamas are useful in flushing out the respiratory systems. The intensity, rate of breathing, and the number of breaths are calibrated to individual needs. Seniors, people suffering from high blood pressure, GERD, GI issues, hernias, respiratory issues, cancer patients, and all other medical problems should seek medical advice and a competent yoga therapist. Those who are comfortable and familiar with neti (click on link for more information) can first flush the nose out.
Moderate yoga cleansing of the respiratory system: slow kapalbhati (skull-shining breath) done as instructed by an experienced teacher
Intense yoga cleansing of the respiratory system: bhastrika (bellows breath) done as instructed by an experienced teacher
Digestive and respiratory cleansing can be done on the same day. The pranayamas are done in the morning, before a meal and after emptying the bladder and bowels. The two types of cleansing go well together.
Yoga digestive cleansing is a kind of fast that has many benefits. It gives the digestive and excretory tracts a rest along with a good clean. Wastes that accumulate regularly are tamasic in nature (heavy, toxic, associated with inertia and lethargy). So a good clean out is beneficial physiologically. All religions have ritual fasts for these reasons. It enforces self-discipline. The body feels lighter and more energetic. As seasons change, cleansing and partial fasting help reset the metabolism. More on fasting will appear in a separate blog post.
When pranayama is combined with digestive cleansing, it is particularly effective. The pranic energy (samana, apana, prana) involved with digestion, excretion, assimilation is freed up to be directed spiritually. The whole pranic body is energized and it helps clear mental and emotional blockages. The process of yoga mental cleansing begins. There is a feeling of mental lightness and freedom that accompanies the physical lightness of being. It is a joyful feeling.