|Buteyko Asthma Management
By Jennifer Stark
November - December 2008
- Breathing through the nose
- Dr. Buteyko’s Take on the World
- Clearing your Nose
- Learn Buteyko
- New Buteyko Practitioner for New Zealand
- Buteyko Tip of the Season
Breathing through the nose
Because you understand that breathing through the nose is the way to breathe,those of you who have been receiving this newsletter for years must wonder from time to time, “Why is she still batting on about it?”
Well the reason that I do keep writing about it is because there are new people joining the mailing list all of the time, and even though it may be surprising to you who are veteran nose-breathers, not everyone knows to breathe in this way.
Recently I taught a little girl who had asthma, allergies and sleep problems. The only time that she seemed to have her mouth closed was when she had a mouthful of food. I’m sure that if the teaching of keeping your mouth closed while eating could spill over into the rest of the day then children would have a lot fewer health problems.
When I mentioned that constant mouth-breathing causes teeth to grow crookedly and makes swallowing more of an effort, the little girl pointed out her own crooked front teeth, but said that her swallowing was just fine. This might be hard to know if you are used to having to move your head when you swallow, and it has been like this for as long as you can remember. In any case it is hoped that in time, by having her lips closed and the tongue in its usual place on the roof of the mouth, that her teeth will come back in line and her parents will not be faced with orthodontic bills in the future.
The girl’s father was intrigued, almost to the point of disbelief, by the thought of exercising with your mouth closed as he said that he never breathed through his nose when sleeping, let alone exercising. An example of how normal it is to breathe through the nose for mammals while exercising was displayed to me while I was watching a wild life documentary. Lions and cheetahs were chasing wildebeest, all the while with the mouth firmly closed. And perhaps what was more surprising than a fit, hungry lion with its mouth shut, were the wildebeest. They also were breathing through the nose, even as they ran for their very lives.
“I can’t do that” is a common response to the suggestion of breathing through the nose while exercising, especially from male cyclists, who insist that it is impossible to go slower the three or four times that is needed to get their legs to adjust to the change in breathing. Yet it is true that exercising while breathing through the nose will work. Middle-distance runner Steve Willis said, “Every time I went running I would be on the Ventolin, and things like cold mornings and dusty rooms would set my asthma off. After using Buteyko I can run a lot more with a lot less tightness and wheeziness.”
Exercise does not only mean running around the block, but it is virtually any time that you move. Next time that you stand up from your computer, think about if you continue to breathe easily through your nose. What about when you reach up to the top shelf of a cupboard, do some gardening, or put on your socks? Aside from breathing through the nose being the natural way to breathe, and the nose being a fantastic filter, warmer and humidifier of air, what else is it on your face for? Apart from holding your glasses up, the answer that I’m looking for is smelling.
Aromas are incredibly important in adding safety, satisfaction and joy to our lives. Perhaps it is the first whiff of smoke that tells us there is fire about, which allows us to escape. Maybe it is the smell of concrete becoming wet on a hot day just as it is starting to rain, your favourite flower, or a fragrant curry wafting through the air on a cold winter’s night. All of these things tell us something about our environment and ourselves. In a primal way a sense of smell could be life saving, but on another level, aromas add depth to our food, our moods and our sense of well being. If you don’t breath through your nose, then you will miss out on many of these things that enrich our lives.
Dr. Buteyko’s Take on the World
Recently Australia’s Prime Minister has attributed the current world economic turmoil to be largely caused by man’s greed, and if Dr. Buteyko were still alive today, he might agree with him. This is because Dr. Buteyko felt that not only was hyperventilation caused by a greed for air, but that this greed for air contributes to social problems. The following is part of an interview with him in the 1980s.
“Our civilisation has taken on a global character - it's now embracing the whole of the mankind, and because of this, the time is approaching when our world can perish instantaneously through application of nuclear weapons, or gradually through contamination of our environment. The latter eventuality has already commenced its cycle.
I feel compelled to point out that the diseases of deep breathing and of poisoning of nervous system (i.e. factors of greediness) of the human beings also affect human intelligence through the damage caused to the nervous system and the cortex of the brain. With the progressive character of these afflictions, the human being's mental capacity to understand that he is on the path of self-destruction is continually being reduced.
In other words, such human being becomes insane enough not to comprehend that he is chopping a branch of the tree from underneath himself. That is why the discovery of our principles represents perhaps the salvation of the mankind from the impending catastrophe, i.e. the death of the Earth's civilisation.” Konstantin Buteyko.
Other experts in the field of hyperventilation also confirm that a poor breathing pattern leads to nervousness and reduced oxygen delivery to the brain. In times of economic turmoil, having a bit of calmness and clear thinking is likely to be a useful tool to have. Clearing your Nose If you cannot easily breathe through your nose, then try this Buteyko exercise:
* After a breath out, softly pinch nostrils closed.
* Close mouth if it is open.
* Gently nod head 10 – 20 times until there is an urge to breathe.
* Remove hand, keep mouth closed and SLOWLY, QUIETLY and GENTLY inhale through the nose.
* Repeat the whole sequence a few times if your nose does not become clear straight away and remember that the more you breathe through your nose, the better that it will work for you, and the easier it will be to use it all of the time.
“I’ve spent most of my life breathing through my mouth because my nose was always too blocked. I’ve used nasal sprays and asthma puffers to control the symptoms of asthma but they have always been a short term solution. With the Buteyko method, I learned how to clear my nose and keep it clear without drugs. It’s four weeks after starting the course and I still haven’t needed to use any Ventolin. Something unthinkable just a few weeks ago! If you haven’t heard of Buteyko before, don’t worry - you’re hearing about it now! Give it a try!” Dave
Learn the Buteyko Method
The Buteyko method is not only about breathing through your nose, but it is a complete education course that aims to give you the tools to retrain yourself to have a correct breathing pattern. There are two choices of learning the whole programme: you need into get to a Buteyko class, or you can teach yourself.
Learning face to face with a trained practitioner is the best way to do this because you will get instant feedback on your breathing exercises, and help that is tailored to your situation. If you cannot find someone locally to teach you, then email me with your city and country details so that I can help you to find someone to teach you.
If you live in a remote area, or cannot get to a scheduled course, then you can teach yourself with my help by using out Home Education Kit. The kit involves a DVD or video, instruction manual, workbook and unlimited email support. It is available through the secure server on our web site http://www.buteyko.co.nz
New Buteyko Practitioner for New Zealand
Viv Smith has recently started teaching Buteyko in Nelson, New Zealand. Viv makes her classes informative as well as interesting and fun, and so be sure to book yourself into one of her courses if you live in her district. To find out more about her schedule, then take a look at Viv’s web site http://www.buteykowellness.co.nz
Buteyko Tip of the Season
The holiday season is just around the corner, and along with it often comes a lot of stress. If your family and friends are into the practice of gift giving, then finding suitable presents can be a mission on its own. In addition, you might feel the need to eat more food than is good for you, drink alcohol that you don ‘t really want, be exposed to extremes of temperature, or be cooped up for hours on end with relatives that you may not like. The more stress you are under, then the more you will breathe. The more you breathe, the more symptoms of hyperventilation you are likely to experience, and these then fuel the hyperventilation. The end result is feeling pretty lousy, with a worse breathing pattern than before the whole thing started.
If you haven’t worked it out already, the first tip of the season is going to be, “Breathe through your nose!” Even take the time to inhale through your nose before you speak so that you have that extra second to choose your words more carefully.
The second tip is to keep your shoulders relaxed and smile. If you present a relaxed appearance, then other people will feel more relaxed too, and if there is any tension in the room, it might drop a little. Laughter is a great way to break down barriers, and while laughing a lot can trigger asthma and other symptoms of hyperventilation, a little laughter is good for everyone.
Taking the time to learn Buteyko is another stress-buster. If you have already learned the method, but have let your Control Pause slip, then revise your class notes to get it moving again, or contact your teacher about refresher courses or tips on what to do next.
Better Breathing = Better Health
The Buteyko Works Team
By Jennifer Stark