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The following is a very simplified version of one of the main exercises involved in breath  correction.  Certain  steps  have been  omitted  as it is essential  they are practiced  under  the direct supervision of a practitioner  to take into account individual nuances of the patient.

This exercise lasts about half-an-hour and it is recommended  that you practice two to three times each day. If you can, you should  practice before  breakfast,  during  the  day if possible, and  again  in  the  evening.  Exercises should  be carried  out in a quiet  place with no distractions.  The temperature should be cool and the room airy because a hot and stuffy environment can  promote  big  breathing,  the  exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

Food affects your breathing, so it is not recommended that you practice immediately after eating a meal. Exercises are best practised before meals or at least two hours after them. At half hourly intervals there should be pulse and control pause meas- urement, as well as a number of sets of breathing exercises.

If you want to get the best out of these  exercises, it is recommended that you adhere to the following general guidelines.  Go to a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed  and  where  you will have no distractions.  Place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, if you need  to, and take the  telephone  off the  hook or switch off your mobile. You will need  to concentrate  to complete  this exercise correctly, particularly in the early days.

 

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Adopt a correct but comfortable posture. Correct posture involves sitting  up straight  with both  feet underneath your chair. If you have difficulty with this, then  imagine  a thread suspended  from the ceiling, attached to the top of your head, holding you in an upright position. Correct posture  is very important in helping  to reduce your breathing.  When  you sit slouched, your breathing  will increase  and  will be more  from  the  upper  chest  than  the tummy,  where it should  be coming  from. When  you adopt the correct posture, your tummy  will move more  than  your upper chest and your breathing  will require less effort. Your tummy will move out with each inhalation (breathing in) and will move in with each exhalation (breathing out) because of the  action  of the  diaphragm,  which is the  main  breathing muscle. Make sure that your tummy moves in the right sequence.  If  not,  you  are  performing   what  is  known  as reverse breathing.

Now  that  you  are  in  the  right  place  and  the  right posture  for you, focus on  your breathing.  Feel the  move- ment  of air in and  out of your body, particularly through your  nostrils.  Concentrate   on  the  slight  movement   your body makes with each inhalation and exhalation. It is vital to be aware of your breathing  so that you can correct it. If you are  unaware  of  your  breathing,  you  will not  be  able  to improve it.

As you breathe,  let your shoulders  fall to their  natural position.  Raised or tense  shoulders  increase  the  volume  of the chest cavity and so increase  the volume of air inhaled. Tension   increases   breathing,   but  relaxation  decreases   it. Relax  the   muscles   involved  in  respiration,   such  as  the muscles above your tummy and in your chest.

The next step is to monitor  the amount  of air flowing through your nostrils by placing your finger under your nose in  a horizontal  position.  Your finger  should  lie just above your top lip, and close enough  to your nostrils  so that you can  feel  the  airflow,  but  not  so  close  that  the  airflow  is blocked.

Now, breathe  air slightly into  the  tip of your nostrils. Little breaths or short breaths mean the amount  of air reach- ing  your  lungs  reduces.  By reducing   the  depth  of  your breathing  or the length  of each breath, in other  words, the number  of breaths you take every minute  may increase, but don’t worry because this is normal.  Remember  that the aim is to reduce the volume. When you breathe  out, the more warm air you feel, the bigger your breathing.  Concentrate  on reducing the amount of warm air you feel on your finger.

 

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Don’t worry if this exercise does not  work for you the first time you try it. It will take time for your body to become accustomed  to the lower volume of breathing.  Over time it will become  easier. A gradual  and relaxed approach  is best, because if you try to decrease the amount  of air too quickly or too much, it may cause involuntary  gasps of air or cause you to take bigger breaths. It is important that you get to the stage  where  you  can  sustain  reduced  breathing   over  the course of three to five minutes.

Take a few minutes’ break before you start the next five minutes  of reduced  breathing.  Two sets of twenty minutes per day is the minimum time  that should  be spent on this exercise, combined  with relaxation and observation  of your breathing   for  the  remainder of  the  day and  night  (more about  this  later). In order  to make  progress  it is necessary to spend  this amount  of time practising. After a number  of months,  and  depending on  your progress,  breathing  exer- cises  can  be  performed   while  doing  any  activity such  as reading a book or watching television.

 

Correct Sequence

People with severe asthma  should  practice breathing  exer- cises three times per day, preferably before breakfast, before lunch and in the evening. For those with mild and moderate asthma, breathing  exercises should  be practised twice daily, before breakfast and before going to bed. For correct exercise practice, each  block should  take  about  half-an-hour to  do correctly.

 

A block  of exercises consists of:

1. Take your pulse, and note it.

2. Control pause.

3. Reduced breathing  for five minutes.

4.  Control pause.

5. Reduced breathing  for five minutes.

6.  Control pause.

7. Reduced breathing  for five minutes.

8.  Control pause.

9.  Reduced breathing  for five minutes.

10. Control pause.

11.  Check your pulse again  and  compare  with your pulse rate when you started the exercise.

 

In order  to reset  the  respiratory  centre  you must  spend  at least fifteen  minutes  doing breathing  exercises. The control pauses  in between  each  set  of  breathing   exercises  may decrease  due  to accumulation  of carbon  dioxide. It is vital that the pulse at the end of exercise (11) has decreased  and the control pause (10) has increased due to a readjustment of the respiratory centre to a higher  level of carbon dioxide. If your results are different, it means  that you are overbreath- ing during  the exercises, but this can be corrected by apply- ing greater  relaxation and reducing  the intensity  of the air shortage created.

I am very familiar with what happens when the exercises are not done correctly. When I first started using the Buteyko method  myself, I tried to reduce the depth of my breathing by tensing  my  stomach  to  influence  the  amount  of  air  I inhaled.  However, this  led to an increase  in my breathing because of the additional  tension  I created. When I learned how to do the exercise correctly, I then had to begin revers- ing my previous breathing  pattern.

Your lower respiratory muscles can become tense in response  to a decreased  volume  of breathing,  so the  best advice is to try to relax throughout the exercises. Some will find  this  more  difficult than  others  – some  people  are, by nature, more relaxed than others – but relaxation is a priority.

 

Summary of Exercise One

✦   Set aside time when you will have no distractions.

✦   Sit down and adopt the correct posture.

✦  Relax  your respiratory muscles.

✦   Place your finger  under  your nose without  blocking the air-flow.

✦   Concentrate  on reducing  the amount  of air that is blown onto your finger by monitoring the temperature of the air you are breathing  out through your nose.

✦   Reduce volume by taking very small breaths.

✦   Your  control  pause  should  increase  when  the  exercises have been completed.

✦   Your pulse should decrease when the exercises have been completed.

 

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