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Angela Stevens

Yoga for Asthma

Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and it is assumed that then we know how to do it. It is the most important biological function of the body as all other functions depend on it but no one thinks it is important to teach us "this is how you breathe in and out" only maybe as part of an objective biology lesson at school.

Life is completely dependent upon the act of breathing. To breathe is to be alive - without breathing there is no life. That is the black and white of it, the extremes, but there are many grey areas that can be explored to improve the quality of our breath.

The yoga approach is ideal in the treatment of asthma and any bronchial problems as the breath is the thread that runs through the entire practice. The following important aspects of breathing are taken into account:

  • The breathing apparatus - the nostrils - importance of nose breathing as against mouth breathing; the nose as warming chamber, humidifier, air-conditioning system; the "bronchial tree"; lungs; diaphragm.
     
  • The breathing rate - how many breaths do you take to the minute?
     
  • The importance of rhythm.
     
  • The importance of good posture.
     
  • The quality of breath.
     
  • Co-ordination of breath and movement.
     
  • The full potential of the lungs is achieved.
     
  • An understanding of the Life Force.
     
  • Control of the Autonomic Nervous System, which deals with the opening of the bronchial tubes during inhalation and the closure of the bronchial tubes during exhalation.
     
  • Yoga helps to strengthen the respiratory system.
     
  • The exercises and body postures (asanas) relax the breathing muscles.
     
  • Inverted postures help to drain mucus from the lungs.
     

Panic attacks and hyperventilation may not be purely physical - they can be triggered by the brain and can be psychosomatic. Because yoga practice affects the physical body, the mind and the emotional state techniques are taught to overcome these attacks as they occur.

CD 4 in the Audio Yoga Series (entitled 'Breath to Live') is ideal for asthma or hyperventilation syndrome sufferers.
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