There  are many  and  varied breathing  therapies,  plenty of which I have tried, particularly when I was really suffering from my asthma. However, I can honestly say that Buteyko is the  only one  that  has ever produced  lasting  results  for me.

There is evidence to support  the credibility of Buteyko. From  scientific  trials  and  reported  verbal evidence  to  the testimonials  of literally thousands  of people worldwide, no breathing  therapy has matched  the results of a proper application of the Buteyko Method. Indeed none has achieved the demonstrable and permanent success levels that Buteyko has achieved.



Some breathing  exercises consist of blowing air as hard as you can through  a straw to move marbles or blowing up balloons in order  to increase  lung capacity. Other  exercises involve taking very big deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. These are all taught with good intentions, but they are, in my opinion, likely to exacerbate your asthma rather than help it.

Forceful exhaling causes too much carbon dioxide to be carried out with each breath. A forced breath  out results in the  subsequent inhalation  being  large. This loss of carbon dioxide  will  cause  spasm   of  smooth   muscle,  increased mucus and can lead to an asthma  attack. An estimated  80 per cent of asthma  sufferers will experience an attack from big breathing  within two minutes.  It is logical therefore  to conclude  that  breathing  exercises involving  big breathing will produce the same symptoms in a relatively short period of time. Instead of increasing  lung capacity, these exercises will lead  to  increased  mucus  and  spasms  causing  airway obstruction.


Another   misguided    practice   involves   the   forceful removal of mucus with coughing exercises or tapping of the back. Mucus  is  part  of  the  body’s  defence  mechanism against  loss  of  carbon  dioxide.  Forcibly removing  mucus results in increased   breathing   causing  a  loss  of  carbon dioxide. This  will create  more  mucus.  To remove  mucus, practice reduced  breathing  exercises as outlined  earlier. In addition,  one could drink a glass of warm water with a 1⁄4 teaspoon  of sea salt dissolved in it, although  some  people find this too severe.

The mucus will be released as the airways open and will be brushed  upwards to the pharynx by cilia, which are fine hair-like structures  lining our airways. The mucus  can then be harmlessly swallowed. If the mucus is green or yellow, it may be infected so it is better to spit it out. Note that yellow or  green  mucus  is  not  always indicative  of  an  infection. Mucus can be coloured by the presence of a large concentra- tion  of cells involved in inflammation such as eosinophils. Unfortunately, this may be interpreted as an infection and so antibiotics  will be  prescribed.4    The  overuse  of  antibiotics produces  multi-resistant   strains   of  bacteria  resulting   in common  infections not responding to antibiotic treatment at all. By reducing  breathing,  the body has no need  to create additional  mucus  as  part  of  its  defence  mechanism,   and mucus  already created will be removed  naturally by airway dilation. During  the  first  couple  of weeks of breath  retraining, you will notice a considerable movement  of mucus from the lower airways. This is part of the cleansing reaction



Many people ask about the role of yoga in addressing asthma problems. Yoga involves body posture and controlled breath- ing  with  deep breaths,  and  pauses  which  are  effectively breath holds. People in the East would spend a large part of their  day meditating in  isolation, with  no  talking  and  on restricted diets, which would result in increased CO2. Having spent many years practising, a yogi may have a control pause of as much as 180 seconds. For those with asthma the therapeutic benefits derived from yoga are a result of the reduced volume  of breathing.  While  the  inhalation  is  deeper, the number  of breaths per minute  may be as low as one or two. When practised correctly, breathing  volume will reduce, sometimes  dramatically.

My view is that, unless there is reduced breathing, there is very little therapeutic  value to be gained for an asthmatic, although  the  relaxation  will in itself reduce  breathing  and this is beneficial. If you are practising yoga, do not breathe in through  your nose  and  out through  your mouth  as it will cause big breathing  and dehydration.

A practice of some Eastern yogi is to seal both of their nostrils  with beeswax in which  is embedded a horse  hair. They remove  the  horse hair leaving  a  tiny  hole  through which  they  breathe.  As the  volume  of air  inhaled  will be reduced, carbon dioxide increases in the lungs. Plugging of the  nose  has  also  been   practised   by  some   students   of Buteyko. A small piece of tissue is inserted  into each nostril. This serves to reduce the amount  of air passing through  and therefore  will increase carbon dioxide.

I have spoken  with a number  of people  who claimed that they developed asthma  solely from the breathing  exercises that they were taught during  yoga in Ireland. Unfortunately many  of the  exercises have become  distorted  along the way – possibly in an effort to facilitate Western lifestyles. The  true  intention of  the  exercises  can  in  these  circumstances  be lost, and  practices  that  may be harmful  can be introduced.  I suspect that this is what has happened  in these cases.

Yoga is a complex subject. Many people practise it and feel that  they  get considerable  health  and  peace  of mind benefits as a result. I can only look at it from  the  point  of view of whether or not it is likely to be of benefit to someone with an asthma  problem  who is trying to address  an incornrect breathing  pattern. If it helps  people  to  relax, and  it also helps them  to reduce their breathing,  then there may well be a role for it. The measure  of success will be if it helps them  to get their asthma under control.



Breathing exercises aimed at reversing hyperventilation have worked for me where nothing  else ever has. I believe in it, and I want to help others to achieve what I have managed  to achieve – permanent control of my asthma  with no reliance on medication.

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