The science of Yoga specialises in breath control. It offers vital information regarding respiration and techniques which can relieve health problems including asthma.In yogic terminology the physical body is called the Annamaya Kosha or the "food sheath".
It is constructed out of the food we eat. The vital body or etheric body is called the Pranamaya Kosha and is built out of all the energies we have assimilated from food but more specifically via our breathing. Breathing is looked upon as the primary nourishment for continuance of life, over and above the need for food and water.The vital body or etheric body holds the pattern for the natural flow of prana or energy within the individual and acts as our shield, protecting us from outside influences through a positive radiation of abundant energy. Any disturbance in these energies brings about a reaction in a physical disturbance or health problem.
Correction of breathing and respiratory difficulties is therefore of paramount importance not only for the immediate relief of the sufferer, but for assurance of his future well being.The yogic concept is that our health is determined by our psychological states and that irregularities in health can therefore be assisted by adjustments made in our thinking and our emotional life. It is by maintaining a balanced relationship between our thoughts and our emotions, that we can best preserve our good health.
In addition, we apply physical corrective measures. In the case of asthma, this would include nutritional considerations, herbal medicines, physiotherapy, inhalation of essential oils, physical exercises, correction of body posture, respiratory exercises and training in breath control.The average person breathes approximately 23-25,000 breaths per day. Each breath has 3 aspects inhalation, retention and exhalation. These three processes determine the regularity of supply and flow of life energy or prana within the body as well as the balance of oxygen and carbon di-oxide within the blood and cells.
The three processes - inhalation, retention and exhalation should be balanced as they are by the action of the sympathetic nervous system in the nature of a well balanced individual. The three processes symbolize 1) the receptive process of drawing in vital nourishment 2) the power to absorb and utilise energy 3) the expression of the creative life energies.The asthmatic has the three processes out of balance in himself.
He usually draws in and is receptive but tends to suffer from an inability to exhale and express his energies and talents, his feeling or his thoughts. In some way he is choked by his own energy intake. Fear intensifies the blockage, intensifies his discomfort and the disease itself. This is of course a generalization and you will agree that there are exceptions.
However this and any other imbalance in the psychological attitude of the sufferer must be adjusted before normal, natural, rhythmic respiration can occur. We all must become attuned to harmonise with the law and rhythm which is behind the power of Nature giving us life through our breath. And our breathing is a unique process which is partly orchestrated by Nature itself and partly by our own consciousness.The process of respiration is therefore one which has a subconscious or unconscious component and one which is controlled by conscious awareness.
In order to bring the two into harmony or in the case of asthma, restore the relationship, we have to consider the subconscious fears and inhibiting factors as we apply our therapy to the mechanisms of breathing. In an adult this can be addressed reasonably directly through consultation with a psychologist, counsellor or therapist. With infants and children, the task must be largely undertaken by the parents and therapists on the child's behalf by making opportunity for the inner thoughts and feelings of the child to be expressed and by contributing positive suggestions to help them re-programme their reactions to negative situations.
We have to help them to breath properly in exercises directed through our suggestion.Nature has given us 2 nostrils instead of one big hole - not for aesthetic reasons, (because it looks better) but to enable us to tune in or plug in to the electro-magnetic energies which sustain life and which can be seen to correspond with what we call electricity. The energy which is drawn through the right nostril corresponds to the positive and the left nostril breath to the negative energies which in Indian terms are known as 'pingala and ida' and in Chinese philosophy as 'yang and yin'.You can verify the existence of these energies by a simple demonstration.
Sitting in a relaxed manner and without actually touching the hands - place them an inch apart palms facing each other, at about waist height. Pay attention to the feeling between the hands. Then with an easy rhythmic series of movements draw the hands a little way apart, say 30 cm and back again to their original position. Repeating this in a light, bellows-like fashion, many times with elbows relaxed and no tension in the hands. After a short while you will begin to feel either a certain warmth, tingling sensation or magnetic pull between your hands, depending upon the type of energy flowing through you.
Although invisible, your energy is very real.Children with no preconceived ideas will register these sensations, so please allow no scepticism to affect your sensitivity. Try to register the sensations impartially. You will find that the feelings will differ at different times and under different circumstances.
If you think that it may be displaced air that creates the sensation between the hands - please experiment further and you will find that it is the back of the hands which register the air displacement through your movement.Our body temperature and functions are balanced by these energies and when they are out of balance, we have manifestation of disease of some kind. Throughout the day there is a natural fluctuation with the air flowing first through one nostril, then the other with the right side heating and the left side cooling. Together they also maintain Nature's air conditioning system.
The process occurs through the swelling of the delicate turbinal membranes in the nostrils, which direct the air through one side or the other. There is an interval of time where the change-over occurs and both nostrils are equally open. This fact can be easily checked by using a finger to close one nostril at a time.Remember that for centuries, dedicated yogis explored all the avenues of nature by simple methods of personal observation and personal experience. They had no instrument other then that of their own body and mind.
They spent time observing, waiting, watching to discover these laws behind human breath. They believed that because the human being can control his life-breath he therefore must have access to the source of Life for himself.Asthma is a condition where the Left side has been overactive, sometimes for years and the alternating rhythm has not functioned as it should.
This rhythm may have been interfered with by the thoughts, emotions and attitudes of the individual and the irregularity exacerbated by physical conditions. Too much mucous or catarrh and nasal congestion as well as allergies as a result of pollution of various kinds makes modern conditions and healing asthma more difficult as all these factors are present to a greater or lesser degree, in conjunction with the discussed psychological conditions which reflect some imbalance. In any case, no matter the causative factors, the natural polarity of positive and negative energies will not be adjusted again until the Right nostril becomes more active.There are certain measures which can help and are used prior to breathing exercises. One is to cleanse the nostrils with cold water sniffing or with some it may be best to use warm salted water. The cold water will reduce any inflammation of the tissues in the nose.
Some people prefer to splash the nose with cold water. Sneezing afterwards is considered a normal reaction. This practice called Neti is done by yogis using a special Neti pot for the purpose.Steam inhalations and also direct inhalation of essential oils is beneficial with peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and pine oil being popular. It is largely a matter of personal selection to find which is most beneficial.
Other delightful perfumes are found in cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, lemon and lime. Development of sensitivity of olfaction directly aids respiration as the regio respiratoria and the regio olfactoria are closely associated in the brain itself.There are also other subtle therapies proving helpful in the treatment of asthma but therapy for this condition necessarily involves more direct physical treatment upon the spine, body posture, muscular exercises and controls including certain techniques known in Yoga as 'bandhas'.
There must be immediate relief given in cases of critical and acute symptoms of asthma attack but long term reconditioning of the whole person is important also, along with the need to practise the art of relaxation and muscular exercises to reduce strain on the nervous system.By whatever therapeutic means you may undertake, seek also to correct any displacement of the spine which can affect the nose, the thyroid, the diaphragm, the solar plexus and the organs of digestion. Any spinal problem in these areas can aggravate asthma.The yogi looks upon the breath as the means of connection of spirit to body and the spiritual connection of the individual to the universal. Therefore, respiration is considered not only as a mechanical means of taking oxygen in to the body and exhaling wastes, but is a function which assists both integration of the personality and provides our personal lifeline to our Life Source.Help the asthmatic patient to reduce his inner tensions and balance his nature, to melt his frustration and his fears and recover his smooth and comforting link with his lifeline through establishment of his free and natural breathing rhythm.
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By: Michael Russell