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A call for help: How to breathe right.

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I am a monk, but...I've found it hard to stay in the rebellion due to deteriorating health.

And as I am typing this, I have been hospitalized due to severe asthma causing lung problems (To thre point where threy had completely locked up..


This was...something of an eyeopener for me. It was actually quite horrifying, and I don't want this to happen again. So I've come looking for help


I've seen the health benefits of proper breathing, but I have no idea how to do so. And everywhere I look tells me to do them but not how to do them.


Can the Rebellion help me out here with some good breathing exercises for when my lungs finally work once more?

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There are a bunch of different ways of "breathing right," depending on the discipline you look in. In yoga, there's a whole "limb" out of the 8 that's about breath, "pranayama." This article breaks down three breath techniques. You can use different techniques depending on what you want to do, and it takes a while to build up your lungs/diaphragm/vocal chords for different breaths. "Skull shining" breath/breath of fire may be a good way to strengthen your diaphragm, but I wouldn't do it for too long. 

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That article has some nice tips for learning to play with Pranayama, and Breath of Fire is useful for reving up before starting an activity, but can cause headaches if you  overdo it so be cautious.  Breath of fire also sortta bypasses the diaphragm and uses your abs and abdominal pressure to move the diaphragm without really activating it.  The good thing about Breath of Fire for this is that all the focus is on the exhale and from what I understand that's a big part of what causes problems with asthma.


OP, I'm not real sure what you mean by your lungs being 'locked up', are the airways so inflamed that you can't move enough volume of air?  or are the mechanics of your breathing (posture, weakness, immobility, or bad habit) the problem?


My first impulse is to suggest you play with 'crocodile breathing'.  You can practice it for a while without worry of side effects and it's like weight lifting for the muscles involved in breathing.

-Lay flat on your belly, point your elbows forward and cross your forearms.  (I like to hook my thumbs into my arm pits with my fingers on my shoulders, like I'm grabbing my front Deltoid)

-Rest your chin or forehead on your crossed forearms and focus on filling your belly with air as you take long slow controlled breaths.  Since your belly and chest are pinned to the floor you can really feel the movement and muscular action in your sides, ribs and back.

-You can just let the breath 'fall out' if you want an easy relaxing practice, or you can activate your belly and diaphragm to squeeze out the last little bit of each exhale if you want it a little more invigorating.


*If you start to get agitated or feel your blood pressure going up... drop your forehead to the floor and stop squeezing on the exhale.  If you need to, just roll over and breath normally on your back.

Easeful, Peaceful, Useful... "An easeful body, and a peaceful mind, allow you to become a useful person" -Swami Satchidananda


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I was thinking about this a bit more over the weekend, and if you're recovering from a problem then even crocodile breath might be a bit much at first.  As you get back to your routine you might want to start with simple belly breath or three-part breath.


-Belly breath is simply sitting comfortably and purposely breathing into your belly.  Keep it slow and controlled, and on the exhale use your belly to press the breath out.  The idea is to get your diaphragm moving through it's entire range of motion and getting your secondary breathing muscles into the process.  It's surprising how many people forget that most of your torso is involved in taking a breath, especially in our chair-centric lifestyles.

-Three-part breath is similar but a little more focused.  Taking slow full breaths, first fill your belly, then expand your ribs, then keep your shoulders low while you fill your chest with air.  Reverse the process on each exhale first pressing the breath out of your chest, then drawing in your ribs and finally squeezing the belly and lifting the pelvic floor to get the air out of the bottom lobes of your lungs.


Consciously connecting the breath to the movement will train your body to use its natural mechanics even when you're not consciously focusing on them.

Easeful, Peaceful, Useful... "An easeful body, and a peaceful mind, allow you to become a useful person" -Swami Satchidananda


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I hope you're Feeling well TravellerTerrace, I spoke to one of my yoga therapy teachers about your question today and she told me that breath exercises aren't really the best way to treat asthma with yoga, that some tailored movements should be used, and that many breath practices can actually aggravate asthma symptoms.  I'm gonna do some research and she promised to give me some materials covering it next week.

Easeful, Peaceful, Useful... "An easeful body, and a peaceful mind, allow you to become a useful person" -Swami Satchidananda


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