Breath Work – Straw Breathing

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.

Technique

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Breathing normally, gently count your breath cycle in a full minute. Inhaling and exhaling is one round.
  4. 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.
  5. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through the straw, do not force the breath simply let it flow.
  6. 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.
  7. Continue this process for 3 to 4 minutes. Allow the inhalation to happen naturally, do not force it to happen.
  8. 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.
  9. When the 3 to 4 minutes are up count your breathing cycle again. Has it changed? Are you feeling more relaxed and calm?

Benefits

  1. When you breathe through a straw it takes longer to exhale. This slows down the nervous system and soothes and calms your body.
  2. Increases lung capacity by increasing both the inhalation and exhalation.
  3. Practising this breath work helps to lower blood pressure and is useful prior to sleep especially if you suffer from insomnia and / or stress.
  4. Induces a very peaceful state of mind.
  5. 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!

Note
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.

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