In lung disorders such as emphysema and asthma the ability to exhale fully has greatly diminished. Fear and habitual behaviours which builds up as a result of the disorder often mean that a person shortens the exhalation of the breath and uses accessory respiratory muscles rather than using the diaphragm. Over a period of time this habit can lead to more serious lung and heart problems. This breath work helps to counteract this and induces a sense of peace and calm to the body. This breath work is also very beneficial to people suffering from insomnia.
- Find a warm cosy area where you won’t be disturbed, light a candle, you may wish to play some soft gentle music (optional) and sit in a comfortable meditative asana (pose). Keep your spine erect with your shoulders releasing down your spine.
- Close your eyes and gently note the natural rhythm of your breath. Don’t alter or change your breath just simply observe the fact that you are breathing in and out.
- Breathing normally, gently count your breath cycle in a full minute. Inhaling and exhaling is one round.
- Once you have registered the number of breaths, gently place a straw in your mouth. Support the straw with your hand so that you are not unnecessarily contracting your facial muscles and jaw. Relax.
- Breathe in through your nose and exhale through the straw, do not force the breath simply let it flow.
- At the end of the exhalation gently place your tongue on the tip of the straw and breathe in again through your nose and once more exhale through the straw.
- Continue this process for 3 to 4 minutes. Allow the inhalation to happen naturally, do not force it to happen.
- At the end of each exhalation place your awareness on your diaphragm and feel the gentle bounce/spring back up motion of the diaphragmatic muscle in the centre of your body. This allows the incoming breath to be effortless.
- When the 3 to 4 minutes are up count your breathing cycle again. Has it changed? Are you feeling more relaxed and calm?
- When you breathe through a straw it takes longer to exhale. This slows down the nervous system and soothes and calms your body.
- Increases lung capacity by increasing both the inhalation and exhalation.
- Practising this breath work helps to lower blood pressure and is useful prior to sleep especially if you suffer from insomnia and / or stress.
- Induces a very peaceful state of mind.
- This exercise is very beneficial for children / young adults who suffer from asthma. As maintaining concentration maybe difficult in smaller children I often encourage them to use a straw to blow a feather up and down the yoga mat this introduces a fun element, use of a hollow liquorice whip also makes for another fun alternative and treat!
If at any time you feel uncomfortable or sense panic, just stop and take a few normal breaths before resuming again. Sometimes our fear of not taking in enough air can have an adverse effect, but with practise this can be over written.