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With over 17 million people in the United States alone suffering from Asthma and consequently seeking some form of asthma control, this respiratory disease has proven to be a very debilitating hindrance to optimal health. Breathing is the very essence of life and for this disease to hinder its natural process, an effective Asthma control will be essential. Characterized by wheezing sounds, tightness in the chest, difficulties breathing and at times cough spells and sore throats, I had my first asthma attack as a kid and up until about 6 years ago had these attacks rather frequently. This made for many sleepless nights (why with reaching for my Ventolin inhaler) and boring days locked in doors. This was simply because I didn’t have the cardio-vascular endurance to withstand play coupled with the added fear of allergic reactions to grass, dust or even a friendly pat on the back which could trigger an asthma attack at any time landing me right back in the bed for a week minimum. This (with acne and lethargy) was my state of health for years till I started to take up Yoga, considering its mild, yet very effective abilities to exercise the body without any vigorous demands. I was introduced to Pranayama, the Sanskrit name for Breathing Exercises and was told of the benefits of such techniques as the Bellows Breath for asthma control and was also shown how such simpler Square breathing exercises could be beneficial for curing and preventing asthma along with improving my overall health. The author of the Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, Swami Vishnu Devananda attested to curing many patients with asthma symptoms by correcting their breathing habits and with the introduction of a proper diet and exercise. Based on my experiences, I will now provide you with similar and up to date information on the tried-and true techniques and methods of attaining successful and permanent asthma control techniques. The first step to keep in mind whenever you are breathing is to make the conscious effort to ensure that it is done deeply. This can only be attained initially by conscious efforts but, with time and practice it becomes a natural process, like it was always intended to be. To gain the most amount of air with minimal effort, ensure that when inhaling, you allow for the dome of the abdomen to have an outward curve. Contrary to popular belief and instructions given by vocal coaches and even some doctors, do not raise the shoulders or stiffen the diaphragm when inhaling as this constricts the inflow of air for the lungs. For a good illustration of natural breathing as described above, simply observe an infant. You would notice a baby always breathes deeply from the abdomen although it is with a seemingly effortless approach. (I guess that is another reason why the great seers and prophets say to learn from little children eh? A simple test to establish proper breathing habits will be the following exercises. When executing them, ensure that they are done on an empty stomach and in a place with plenty of fresh air. Also, make sure that you breathe through the nose as often as possible. Asthma Control: Breathing Exercises to Use 1. Inhalation and Exhalation: -Either laying flat on a bed or sitting erect commence to breathing deeply, using a stop-watch or metronome to keep track of the time. The desired ratio here is 1:2. Minimum time for inhalation should be 4 seconds gradually building up to 16. (With the time for exhalation now being 8 seconds gradually building up to 32) consciously perform this exhilarating exercise for several weeks. 2. Inhalation-Retention-Exhalation -When you are properly established in exercise #1 the next stage included is retention. In ancient yogic texts, the required ratio would be 1:4:2 (inhalation, retention and exhalation) The minimum schedule again for this exercise is 4 seconds, gradually building up to a maximum of 16 seconds (inhalation that is) Practice this for several days or weeks till you master it and it becomes second nature. Although, from the indications above, youd notice that more emphasis is laid on proper breathing over diet as a step for a natural asthma control, do keep in mind that it is advised that you avoid Mucus-Forming foods such as Animal flesh and products, Most Grains, Junk and Processed Foods and even some so-called health-food products like Soy, Yeast, Braggs Liquid Aminos and Vinegar. Abstinence from the products above is a must and a fact that has been in effect in several programs aimed at correcting respiratory health such as the “Breath Retaining Program For Asthmatics” developed by the Russian, Dr. Buteyko. Within weeks of adhering to this advice, many chronic asthmatics have been able to give up the use of ventolin inhalers. Replace these items with Fruits, Leafy and Root Vegetables and if desired less harmful whole grains like Brown rice, Quinoa, Amaranth and Millet occasionally. Also make sure to combine your meals properly and not to consume liquids of any kinds while eating so as not to constrict proper movement of the visceral organs that lie underneath the all important diaphragm. In addition, make the effort to avoid the use of microwaves, conventionally grown produce and polluted tap water for your optimal health. Asthma need not be a part of your life anymore; you too can effectively apply these natural asthma control methods with the steps outlined above. So empower yourself for a successful asthma control today with proper breathing and dietetic habits.
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Deborah Farley is the founder of Acupuncture Works, LLC in Lynchburg Virginia. She is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Medicine as a Licensed Acupuncturist (L. Ac.) Learn More