Asthma Episode #4 Nose Clearing & Your First Buteyko Exercise
Hello this is Michael Lingard welcoming you to “Escape from Asthma” episode 4, “Nose Clearing and Your First Buteyko exercise”.
Nose breathing, an aid to better asthma control.
Perhaps the simplest advice is to try to always breathe through the nose. Why?
Because the nose functions to deliver air to the lungs in as perfect condition as possible. It makes over-breathing physically more difficult simply because of the smaller size of the nostrils compared with an open mouth, it filters out most of the dust and particulates found in the atmosphere, it moisturizes the air when it's dry, as in centrally heated rooms, delivering air that doesn't irritate and dry out the delicate membranes of the lungs, it conserves water and helps reduce the risk of dehydration, it contains active organisms that trap and destroy many potential infective agents in the air we breathe, protecting the lungs from infection, it is also found to be responsible for the production of up to 50% of nitric oxide in our body when we breathe normally through our nose. Nitric oxide has many vital functions in the body that are still being discovered, we know nitric oxide can dilate blood vessels and improve circulation hence its use for treatment in angina.
When people have not been habitually nose breathing for many years it may take a little time and perseverance to retrain the nose to do the work of breathing it was designed for. A Buteyko Conference I attended in Brisbane a marathon runner told, how with Buteyko Training she had learned to nose breathe throughout the entire marathon and had improved her performance by doing so. Many Olympic athletes in Australia and New Zealand have undergone Buteyko Training to improve their sports performance, endurance and recovery.
What if it is difficult to breathe through the nose?
There is a saying “If you don't use it you lose it!”, this seems to be what many people are found who have difficulty breathing through their nose. However it is the experience of all Buteyko Educators that with specific exercises and perseverance practically everyone can relearn to nose breathe easily. Whether there is a history of chronic catarrh, deviation of the nasal septum, polyps, old injury or any other condition, everyone can improve their ability to nose breathe. Two simple exercises are taught to help regain normal nose breathing capabilities.
Nose clearing exercise number one. On a normal out-breath, hold your nose and keep the mouth shut, and nod the head forward and backwards about eight times gently, then released the nose and breathe gently through the nose, always keeping the mouth shut. Repeating this up to 3 times will clear most stuffy noses and mild blockages. You may need to repeat this procedure a number of times in the first few days until the nose remains clear.
Note clearing exercise number two.
This is similar to the first exercise but more effective when the congestion or blockages are more severe and long-standing.
On an out-breath hold your nose, keep the mouth shut and walk as many steps as you can. When you feel the urgent need to breathe, keep your mouth shut, release the nose and breath in gently through the nose. Repeat till the nose becomes clear.
Despite the simplicity of these exercises they have been repeatedly shown to work remarkably well.
Remember always breathe through your nose it's what it's therefore.
Since Professor Buteyko claimed asthma is a disease of hyperventilation or over-breathing, a substantial part of the full Buteyko course is spent teaching patients how to reduce their breathing.
This is probably the greatest conceptual hurdle for asthma sufferers to overcome, and reasonably so! They find themselves breathless, struggling to take another breath, then to be told they are breathing too much and should reduce their breathing to overcome the symptoms takes a great leap of trust initially. It is only when they understand the physiology of tissue oxygenation which is part of this training does it then makes sense to them.
The basic background is that triggers or stresses cause us to hyperventilate and the hyperventilation produces the symptoms.
Some people require a lot of individual support and help to learn to reduce their breathing and to break often a lifetime's habit of habitual chronic hidden hyperventilation, others find it easier to learn quickly.
At its simplest level the secret is to be totally relaxed, as Professor Buteyko said “Be soft as a cloth”.
When we clench our fist we need more energy hence more oxygen to meet the muscles demand, hence more breathing to provide the oxygen. If all muscles are relaxed, a demand for oxygen goes down and are breathing is reduced. If we then relax our breathing muscle, the diaphragm, breathing is reduced further. Because some people may initially have unpleasant reactions when they do reduced breathing they are carefully monitored during training to avoid this, but if reduced breathing is achieved only through relaxation most people will not suffer any ill effects. There are many tips and techniques which we will give to help people individually with this vital component of training. The long-term aim is to alter our breathing habits so that all our breathing becomes “reduced breathing” or in other words we return to normal breathing. At this stage further exercises are unnecessary. Thus reduce breathing exercise are a short-term training and become unnecessary when normal breathing is restored as the new habit.
So how do we get so bad?
Apparently man was not the hunter but the prey and our survival depended on fast reactions to danger, the fight or flight reflex evolved that was life-saving for our ancestors but is a potential health hazard for us today. Repeated stressors for modern man with little or no physical activity, leads to raise heart rate, increased breathing, increased blood directed to muscles increase clotting of blood, reduced immune system activity, increased sweating, and increase histamine production.
Our body gets locked into a state of anxiety, our carbon dioxide receptors get used to this low level of carbon dioxide and our over-breathing is maintained. We become hidden chronic hyperventilators. There are two possible reasons that seem to make sense in the West, we are subjected to recurrent stressors from an early age and there is a culture of deep-breathing. It is primarily the recurrent stressors that leads to a chronic hidden hyperventilation but also because Western man has developed a culture of over-breathing; we are encouraged to breathe deeply when we are children, when we are stressed and whenever we take exercise or do keep fit. This is quite the reverse in the East where a perfect man was once judged to breathe “as if not breathing” in other words very softly and quietly.
We can now do our first Buteyko exercise, just record this simplified exercise on any notepad at hand. Write down eight headings across the page.
Control pause, pulse, reduced breathing, control pause, reduced breathing, control pause, pulse.
If you have difficulty finding a pulse on your wrist don't worry at this stage just leave this section blank.
Now check your control pause and record this under the CP heading, if you can easily find your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to give your pulse rate per minute and record under pulse. Now make yourself comfortable, sitting upright and try to totally relax, close your eyes and try to keep your mind quiet by imagining some pleasant scene in a beautiful sandy shore on an island, a special garden or any picture that keeps your mind occupied quietly. Keep your mouth closed and breathe gently through your nose. Keep reminding yourself to be completely relaxed. If you have a timer set it for three minutes. When the timer rings open your eyes and when you are ready check your control pause again. Record this control pause on your notepad. Now, once again return to relaxation for another three minutes setting the timer as before. When the timer rings wait for about a minute before checking your control pause again and your pulse if you're able. The minute wait is to measure what your breathing is now like after the exercise. If you have been able to relax well you should find that either your end control pause is a little higher than your start control pause or your end pulse is lower than the start pulse. This was your first simple Buteyko exercise, well done. Before the next episode download the Buteyko work sheet and print off copies for future use, you will find this at www.totalhealthmatters.co.uk/Worksheet.pdf or you may prefer to buy the companion eBook "The Buteyko Guide to Better Breathing & Better Asthma Management" HERE or my book that accompanies this podcast for recording your exercises and further studies entitled "Better Breathing Means Better Health" HERE
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