Yogic Breathing To Reduce Asthma Attacks
‘You know some very complicated things can go on within your body as a result of apparently simple exercises.’
This profound thought comes from the pen of Dr M. Doreal, who wrote an insightful book about healing with yoga techniques called ‘Sahaj Yoga’, published by Brotherhood of the White Temple, Inc., Sedalia, Colorado, 80135.
It is true that Yoga Breathing techniques can have some amazing effects on long-standing conditions of ill-health , such as asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.
Yogic breathing practices have been practiced by yogis for literally thousands of years. These yogi adepts have long understood the healing value of yoga and yoga pranic breathing. It is believed in yoga that a longer life can be earned through proper, deeper breathing. People who habitually breathe quickly. and with shallow breaths. tend to live shorter lives than people who have developed the yoga style of slow, deep breathing.
Nowadays orthodox medical people are just beginning to accept these yoga practices into the mainstream of medical practice, but usually without the acknowledgement to yoga which it deserves.
Yogic breathing practices have been adapted and adopted by many orthodox practitioners and institutions of health. Proper breathing is recognized by orthodox asthma foundations as being one very good healing tool for the prevention of an attack of asthma. But these breathing exercises come from the ancient yoga traditions.
Many people have been healed of asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression after bringing yoga and its wonderful breathing practices into their daily lives.
Yoga Breathing Exercises Which Help Asthma and High Blood Pressure:
First Exercise: Abdominal Breathing: This is a technique which develops the capacity to breathe into the lower part of the stomach. Asthma sufferers tend to have shallow breathing, and breathe into the top part of the chest. People who suffer anxiety usually breath in a similar way. With daily practice, a person can train themselves into breathing with full, deep breaths, using the whole of the lung capacity instead of just the top part of the lungs.
Abdominal Breathing can be done anywhere, at any time. But the most effective way to practice it is lying down, whilst doing Yoga Nidra relaxation, if you have the time.
In all yoga breathing exercises, except for one practice which I will tell you about after this, the breathing is always done through the nose.
Abdominal Breathing Exercise is most important for asthma sufferers: Lying down comfortably, feet a little apart, and hands off the sides of the body. Watch the tummy rising and falling as you breathe. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, watching the tummy rising up. Try to count a slow ‘four’. Hold for one or two counts if you can, and then slowly exhale, again through the nose, watching the tummy falling back down towards the spine again.
Relax into the rhythm, and repeat many times. Try to remember as you breathe in, to visualize the pranic energy coming to the front part of the body. As you breathe out, visualize the energy or prana going to the back, to the spine.
Another neat healing trick is to use the ‘whispering breath’, called the Ujjayi breath in yoga.
With this, you breathe in and out through the nose as usual, but you make a ‘ha’ sound in the throat as you breathe out. Mouth remains closed. This practice has an especially soothing effect on the nervous system, on the mind, and on the lungs.
Second Exercise: Alternate Nostril Breathing
Nadi Shodan Pranayama Preparation:
The best way to begin this exercise is to practice five breaths in and out through one nostril, and then five breaths in and out through the other nostril.
Place the right hand forefinger and middle finger between the eyebrows. Use the thumb to block off the right side nostril. Breathe in and out through the left side for five breaths, and then change sides: Use the fourth finger to block off the left nostril, breathe out through the right nostril, and continue for five more breaths. Then do five more rounds on the other side. Repeat.
Stop the practice if you feel dizzy or strange. Do just a few breaths to start with if you feel uncomfortable.
After some time, when you have become familiar with the technique, you can practice the regular Nadi Shodhan technique, which is done one breath each side, and continue the practice for a longer time.
Third Exercise: The Cooling Breath
This is the only breathing exercise in yoga where you breath in through the mouth. It is very, very cooling and soothing to the mind and nervous system. It is also a very good stimulant to the digestion, as it encourages the production of saliva.
The Sheetali Pranayama is one exercise which, although very simple to do, can achieve astounding results.
Sit comfortably. Now curl the tongue into a tube. Slowly breathe in through the curled tongue. Hold the breath for a few counts if you can, and then breathe out through the nose. Repeat.
For high blood pressure, Swami Satyananda recommends that this exercise can be done up to 60 times in one session. But it is best to build up slowly from five or a little more at a time. Again, stop the practice if you feel dizzy or light-headed.
Culpeper says of Sage that it ’causes the hair to become black’.
Garden sage has many therapeutic uses.
In the garden, its flowers provide medicine and nectar for the bees, as well as a herbal tonic to the neighbouring plants.
It is well-known as an aid to oral hygiene. It has strong antiseptic qualities and is supposed to whiten tooth enamel.
Sage is still used today in some tooth-pastes. It is reputedly one effective remedy for bleeding gums, and improving gum health: The crushed fresh leaves are massaged several times a day onto the gums and teeth.
The tea is gargled to relieve sore throats, colds and flu, and ulcers in the mouth.
It can be effective to reduce fevers, and has been used in the past for thyphoid fever. (see ‘Herbal Remedies and Homeopathy’ published by Geddes and Grosset.)
It is a valuable nerve medicine, and is a useful stomach remedy for improving a weak appetite.
Natural Herbal Hair Dye and Tonic: Sage can help restore healthy hair and improve the colour.
Strong sage tea encourages hair growth and darkens the hair, if it is used on a regular basis. Many herbalists describe it in their writings: see John Heinerman’s ‘Encyclopedia of Fruits Vegetables and Herbs’.
Rosemary is another wonderful herb which can help hair growth, but it does not have such a darkening effect on the hair, as sage does.
Recipe For Sage Hair Dye: Here is a simple, natural hair dye and tonic which you can try. It is perfectly safe to use, as it does not contain any harmful additives such as you might find in commercial dyes for darkening the hair.
Take two cups of fresh sage leaves and put into a stainless steel saucepan.
Add one cup of dry black tea leaves
Add half a cup of cider vinegar and eight cups of water.
Simmer very gently, with no lid, for one hour on a very low heat. You should have around half the original quantity of liquid left at the end of an hour. If you need to add a little more water, make sure you do so well before you finish simmering the brew. If you add more water at the end of the simmering, then your mixture will not keep so well.
Take off the heat after an hour of simmering. Set aside to cool.
Once your sage mixture has cooled properly, strain it off.
To the liquid remaining add the same amount of vodka.
Put into a bottle with a screw-top lid and store in a cool place.
Massage around a tablespoonful of the sage infusion into the hair each day. Use more or less, depending on how much hair you need to cover.
Massage the sage tonic well into the roots of the hair as well, so that it feeds the scalp and hair follicles. Massaging the scalp with the sage tonic will help the hair to grow again.
The oils in the sage leaves will put a natural shine to the hair.
Once the hair is sufficiently darkened, which may take several weeks, you can reduce the amount of applications each week. Once or twice a week may be enough to maintain the darker colour.
Sage is really very good for the hair in so many ways.
Alternative Sage Tonic Without Alcohol: You could make up your sage tea without the alcohol if you wish. Only, remember that your mixture will not keep for longer than a week, and it must be kept in the fridge. You could make up a lesser amount, enough to last a week, and then make up a fresh brew of tea for the following week.
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