It’s officially Autumn – the temperature has dropped, the leaves are too, and our surroundings are bursting with rich oranges, reds and yellows. The long days of summer are over, and as we get back into our busy routines of school, work, sports and other activities, it is important that we listen to our bodies and not forget about our well-being. Autumn is the season of the lungs, a time to pay extra attention and TLC to these powerhouse organs that they are! During this time of the year, the seasonal climate turns crisp and clear. We want nature on our side, especially when it comes to our health, so let’s use this time wisely and focus on our lungs.
It is our lungs job, along with taking in, and purifying air, to maintain a strong barrier between our internal environment and the world around us. When our lungs are healthy, our immune system is strong, our skin is clear and moisturized, our voice is clear, and our breath is deep.
The health of our lungs depends on many factors, and there are many things that we may be doing to damage our lungs. In Chinese Medicine, the lung is called the delicate organ, as it is extremely sensitive to dryness, dampness, cold, heat, and most of all to fire and wind.
Some of the more obvious ways we can avoid lung damage are by not smoking, wrapping up warm to go outside, especially on cold, dry, windy days, avoiding heavily polluted areas, and practicing controlled, deep breathing. Some of the less obvious things to consider are dealing with unresolved grief and sadness. Grief directly effects the lungs, which is why we often get a lump in our throat when we receive bad news, the energy actually gets stuck in the throat, or sometimes in the chest, and if left untreated, can cause many further complications and imbalances in the body.
Coughing is a major indicator of lung imbalance, but there are many other symptoms a person can experience when dealing with unhappy lungs. Frequent sighing, overproduction of saliva, weak voice, the constant desire to lay down, headaches, restless legs, puffy face, skin impurities, and itching can all be the result of an issue residing in the lungs.
So, what does a person do to help clear any obstructions and make sure their lungs are functioning at optimal level? There are many ways to improve lung function, regular exercise, Restorative yoga poses all help to stretch the lungs as well as the lung meridian, where Prana and blood flow to and from the organs. Practicing deep controlled breathing, as mentioned earlier, and visualizing the energy and breath entering and leaving every cell in the body can work wonders at lessening symptoms, such as anxiety and shortness of breath.
Avoiding cold foods, like ice cream and frozen foods, and incorporating more warm and spiced food can help.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal (the morning pages is one of my favourites. Writing 3 pages of anything that comes up as soon as you wake up) is a great way to work through stuck emotions or old grief, but sometimes it is necessary to talk to a Professional for guidance on working through particularly long standing, or extremely deep grief.
Dry brushing the skin is a great way to ensure that the pores are healthy and clear and able to open and close smoothly under direction of the lungs.
Many factors that affect the lung are just simply out of our control, but there are many ways to achieve and maintain a perfectly healthy internal balance. Now is the time to ensure our lungs are functioning at optimal levels, so why not take a little time to fit in an Autumnal walk, attend a regular Yoga class, take time out to simply breathe, your mind, body and spirit will thank you for it!
The pigeon breath is a Pranayama technique which helps us to become calm and peaceful, enhance and strengthen the breathing apparatus
Some of the other benefits of this technique are:
- raising the elbows with the inhale brings air into the sides of the lungs
- the diaphragm is consciously used and engaged encouraging full expansion of the lower lobes of the lungs
- slow conscious exhalation promotes full expulsion of ‘old’ air, making way for more oxygen intake with the next breath
- opens shoulders and mobilises neck area – helping to relieve physical tension
- freeing tension from the lungs and rib cage is particularly beneficial for asthmatics
- the lungs are said to hold the emotion of grief – by opening up the lungs and heart centre you can consciously let go of unresolved emotions and therefore initiate a deeper level of healing after the loss of a loved one.