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The Healing Breath

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I have been an asthma sufferer since the age of two.  Having an asthma attack is extremely frightening and it reminds you of your mortality.  It is very difficult to describe the feeling of a bad asthma episode.  I also feel that an attack is slightly different for each person. During severe attacks I felt like I had 100 tons of weight pressing on my chest and could not take a deep breath.  At other times I felt like my throat would close and not allow air in.

As a child between the ages of five to eleven years old, my Mother would take me to the emergency room at Beth Israel hospital two to three times per week.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s the treatments were injections of epinephrine.  My attacks were so severe that occasionally the doctors would administer up to three shots in one visit.   Epinephrine has adverse side effects; one of these side effects is the possibility of a heart attack. With spending so much time in the emergency room I became privy to a lot of the effects of this medication, I remember hearing that a few kids who had suffered asthma attacks had died from the epinephrine injections.  I tried to block that thought out of my mind on several occasion.  Fortunately for me the only side effects were hyperactivity and being able to breathe again! 

I was on daily medication to treat my asthma symptoms up until I was eighteen years old, at which point I made a decision to stop taking the medication.  I did not want to continue to put these “drugs” into my body.  My thoughts were I have to find a better, healthier way to treat my asthma than with medication.  The subsequent years I spent using inhalers when an attack would set in.  About eight years ago I had a pulmonary function test performed from my doctor. A pulmonary function test measures the intake and output of air through my lungs and my bronchials.   Based on the initial test results she proceeded to recommend I get back on an asthma treatment plan.  After some time on the plan I had another pulmonary function test done, which provided positive findings that my lung capacity had improved.  In the end, according to my doctor, my lungs were operating at 80% of a normal adult capacity.

I had been researching alternative ways of handling my asthma.  So I began training in internal martial arts where I learned Chi Gung breathing exercises.  After training for some time, I decided to increase the frequency and duration of the Chi Gung exercises.  At which point I had noticed improvements with my breathing and experiencing asthma attacks much less frequently.

These postures have been passed down from teacher to student for hundreds of years. I am very fortunate and honored to be one of only a few who have been taught this valuable art. I honor the man who taught me this art by sharing it with others. My hope for you, the student who is learning this, is that you will grow to appreciate this art and eventually gain the health benefits that it offers.

Below I provide details as to what your thought process is during each posture and how to adjust your breathing accordingly.  The key point I have learned from Chi Gung is to visualize the breath giving your body vitality.  You must envision the thought of the breath circulating around your body and seeing it healing you and massaging your organs and lungs.  This should be your primary thought. 

The amount of time spent performing each posture should be between three to ten minutes.  Ideally, a good start is to perform the entire set of Chi Gung postures for a half hour per day, eventually building up to one hour a day is the goal.  Over time the positive results will become evident.

Chi Gung postures;

Posture 1) Hands spread apart at shoulder level with fingers pointing up. Feet are shoulder width and a half apart, while standing in a horse riding stance.  Breathe in a deep and relaxed, inhalation and exhalation through the nose.  As you inhale hands spread apart; when you exhale, your hands come close together but never touch. Envision that the Chi is circling around your body horizontally.

Posture 2) Step with feet shoulder width apart and arms fully extended out in front and hands slightly above your head with palms facing away.  While squatting, lower your hands and when rising bring hands back up above your head.  It will be as if your hands are on a wall moving up and down. When squatting, you should be almost seated so your weight is not over your knees. Envision the Chi circles your body vertically.

Posture 3) step into a front horse stance, (one leg forward and one leg back, weight is 60 % on rear leg and 40% on front), then your hands circle up in front to shoulder/neck height.  Circle your hands in toward your body for several breaths then away from your body for several breaths.  Step out into a front horse stance with opposite leg. Envision the Chi circling your body horizontally.

Posture 4) Stand with your feet shoulder width and a half apart. Place your hands at lower abdomen area palms facing you, like holding a Chi ball.  Take no less than three (3) breaths then hands turn out, palms facing away from you. Raise your hands to sternum level and repeat above sequence. Raise your hands to shoulder level and repeat above sequence. Envision the Chi circles your body vertically.

  1. Practice to make breathing and movements smooth with slow deep breaths.
  2. Straight spine tuck hips, shoulders back chest neutral position.
  3. Think of the energy flowing in circles around your body while breathing.
  4. Ten to fifteen minutes to begin, then increase duration to thirty minutes to an hour.

In conclusion, the goals are to make the postures smooth, while increasing lung capacity to take in more oxygen. Over time with practice and increased training duration you will begin to notice positive results



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