Breathing Exercises For High Altitude Travel

Last time when I went to Manali, and Kasol I encountered breathing problems. Few times I was out of breath and was gasping for more oxygen to fill in my lungs. To not encounter the same problem, I have been trying few exercises which have really helped me to increase my lung capacity. Now there ain’t many articles on the internet about high altitude travel and the breathing exercises which one may practice. Since I was not able to find much on the internet, I resorted to my fitness trainer who showed me couple of YOGIC exercises. These exercises if done properly, not only they increase your lung capacity to hold oxygen but also helps people in high altitude travel.

Let’s cut to the chase and find out more about this exercise which have helped me a lot….!

Mountaineering requires a high level of fitness and strong mental preparedness. Yoga practice is increasingly known to help climbers cope with the challenges of adapting to high altitude. Here’s a “Pranayama” practice that might come in handy. Especially when you are preparing yourself for the challenge of high-altitude breathing.


corpsepose Yoga

This is a simple deep breathing exercise that uses all respiratory muscles to their fullest. To do this, you can lie down on your mat or bed in a comfortable savasana position. Furthermore without a pillow, or sit on a chair, or cross-legged on a cushion.

If you’re sitting, find a comfortable position to sit upright without being rigid. Allow your shoulders to drop and your hands to rest anywhere comfortable, then close your eyes gently.

How to do?

First empty your lungs by extending your exhale. Now slowly breathe in allowing the belly to relax and enlarge, the diaphragm to lower, allowing the air to enter the lungs.

Continue breathing the second stage of your inhale by expanding the rib cage without straining.

The third stage of your inhale must allow the lungs to fill completely by raising the collar bone.

When the lungs are completely full, breathe out in the same sequence as when inhaling.

At the beginning, inhale and exhale for the same amount of counts, for example, if you breathe in five counts, breathe out also in five counts.

Later, as you gain more strength and your lungs increase in capacity, try to exhale twice as long as you inhale. So if you inhale for five counts, exhale for 10 counts.

Make sure you breathe easily without straining, and your body continues to be relaxed. Ideally, keep your respiration deep, slow, silent and easy.

You can practice this breathing technique every day as part of your daily training before you practice yoga asana or other physical exercises, or as a standalone practice in the morning or evening.

This is not meditation, but after a while, you can let go of the controlled part of your breathing and just watch yourself breathe naturally for a few minutes or more. Then you will enter a more meditative practice.

Summing Up

I did not include an “Asana” practice here, but basically all yoga poses are beneficial as integrated training for climbing, trekking or mountaineering.

You can begin your practice with a few rounds of sun salutations, then proceed to do some standing poses, followed by some back bends, some core strengthening, and then wind down with some twists, forward bends, deeper hip openers, inversion and then “savasana“.

Being in nature induces a meditative state of mind. And what better way to cultivate this state of mind then by connecting to your breath? Please leave you comments at the end of page about anything that I might have missed.