HINTS TO RELIEVE ASTHMA

Inevitably we think of the yogi’s conscious study of the art of breathing as an important practice and an integral part of the philosophy of Ahimsa or non-violence that is applied to the discipline.

Modern acceptance of respiration now focuses upon the importance of oxygen but also upon necessity for adequate carbon dioxide. This modifies the western teaching that has been well established in the previous attitude towards these gases that oxygen is ‘good’ and carbon dioxide ‘bad’. Nature requires that these gases are balanced to result in good physical health. Successful remedial programmes demonstrate this point.

Too much emphasis is made by some yoga students upon exertion of the breathing process by straining to achieve mastery. These efforts can sometimes interfere with the natural rhythm that must be seen as the way nature generally works. In this case, when at rest, the breathing is relaxed and even. Although various techniques are taught and can be used for specific purposes, it must not be at the expense of straining the gentle rhythm that Nature conducts in keeping us alive. We need to inhale life and to express life.

In the case of respiratory symptoms, mainly of asthma, it is soothing to introduce the direct inhalation of natural essential oils that offer a fine selection of different scents, some of which will be found pleasing to the patient and best practised in the privacy of the home when it is possible to isolate one perfume from another.

The yoga system offers techniques to release strain on certain parts of the body.
Asthmatics suffer strain on two major nerve centres and will benefit by the use of the
Uddiyana Bandha or solar plexus lock, and the Jalandhara Bandha or chin lock. These must be demonstrated clearly by the teacher with the purpose of using pressure and release of muscular tension on these centres.

Gentle stretches through spinal movements will help to establish muscular balance on either side of the spine although in many cases massage and the need for adjusting any chronic spinal mal-placement must be also considered as an additional help from a professional.

The nutritional aspect is very important and the diet should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables with reduction of cheese and dairy produce initially, together with a reduction in starchy foods, breads and pasta. When changes in the diet result in easing the respiratory spasms the overall diet can be reassessed. It is a difficult subject on which to generalize too much as each of us has such individual tastes and powers of digestion.
It is advisable to give a trial period without meat.

Because the yogi looks upon breathing being not only a physical health necessity but is the lifeline that not only helps integrate the several aspects of the psyche but is the means
of connection of spirit to body and the spiritual connection of the individual to the universal, so providing our personal lifeline to our Life Source.

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Breathing Brings Balance

All teachings of philosophic value encourage the attainment of a state of balance and harmony. In yoga it is recognized as the state of equilibrium following flux, movement and change. This applies to the relaxed state of consciousness that follows all activity, including dynamic physical exercise programmes. Controlled breathing rhythms and habits are found to effectively assist us.

The techniques used are practised with the knowledge of the inter-relationship of breathing and thought. A simple example of this is when we breathe slowly and deeply and feel consequently more relaxed and peaceful. When we inhale at a quicker rate it has the opposite effect and helps stimulate our energies towards activity.

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How to Breathe

Because respiration is normally an unconcious function, it takes a concerted effort towards gaining conscious control over the process.

Tutoring ideally begins in helping children to understand the basic muscular controls that are associated with breathing and as adults, revise what we may already know in gaining control of the intercostal muscles, abdominal muscles and upper torso.

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Practical Pranayama – Conscious Breathing

Having followed the requirements for preparation, and wearing loose and unrestrictive clothing, you are now seated with an upright spine in a comfortable position to begin specific exercises.  There are many breathing techniques involved in pranayama, and they must be applied with full understanding of the processes involved. As the electro-magnetic energies involved in breathing are similar to electricity, which gives us light, so the correct rules for ‘wiring’ the nervous system must be adhered to before we can expect any illumination of the spiritual kind.

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Prana – Pranayama

Prana is the name used in Yoga to represent universal energy and is written ‘Prana.’

A specific energy or vitality is generally referred to as ‘ prana.’

Various types of energy as those naturally associated with the human body are called ‘pranas’.

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Breath – Spirit Of Life

Everything that is alive draws in life energy and expresses it in a process corresponding to respiration. 

Our life begins at our birth with an inhalation and our life will end with our last exhalation.  From cradle to the grave our breathing function does not let us down except in times of respiratory malfunction or disease.  Throughout the whole period of our life-span the breath will continue without a pause, in its interminable rhythm keeping us supplied with oxygen, giving us life energy whether we are aware of the process.

The majority of these breaths we take unconsciously, with many being taken in the hours of sleep. But we expect that when we go to sleep, the breath will continue, and that when we awaken, the process will have been maintained through our sleep and naturally be resumed.
It is a potent reminder of the absolute faith that we place in nature every time we go to sleep. 

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Pranayama- Elementary Breath Control

Prana is the name given to the universal life giving and sustaining energy of nature. We are kept refuelled with this vital need every minute of the day and night through the process of respiration.  Most of this process occurs unconsciously. When we learn to direct our awareness to the mechanism of breathing and focus our conscious mind upon respiration so that we can direct our energy it is known as the practice of Pranayama.

The breath is our lifeline whereby our subtle connection is maintained between body and soul. There are many yogic practices that suggest unusual capacities and these can be demonstrated by yogis skilled in the mastery of this discipline.  However, only the simplest exercises that interfere with the natural, unconscious rhythms should be practised without personal instruction.  For example -

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