How Buteyko Breathing and Kundalini Improved my Life including Asthma
In 1998 I first heard about Buteyko Breathing and by the
summer of 1999 I had become a practitioner. It jumped out
and grabbed me and literally changed my life. Not only
immediately for symptom control (I had been a “severe”
asthmatic since infancy), but also about 6 years later when it
dawned on me one day that my breathing pattern/style/
rhythm had completely changed. I was now a regular nose
and belly breather and I had developed a habit of “hanging
out in the pause after the exhale”. Stress and anxiety no
longer had a grip on me as they had before - I meditated, had
become a better listener (an often unexpected bonus from
shutting one’s mouth), spent significant times in nature and in
silence, and I was better able to deal with difficulties as they
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Fast forward to January 2020. My health has improved
exponentially and the asthma is 90% under control. Small
breathing has become my MO and I am a seasoned traveller -
internationally as well as into the vast inner landscapes of
Self. My spiritual practice continues to deepen as I feel more
comfortable now dwelling in that place of the No breath. This
minimal breath opens an expansive territory of fertile
intuitive ground, from whence decisions can be made with
I had had a rough Autumn; finally coming full circle and
healing after 5 years (plus a lifetime) of simultaneously
difficult emotional situations - family deaths and illnesses,
complicated travel, hospice nurse work - way to much Grief!
And so of course my respiratory issues were exaggerated.
It felt at times like my lungs were shutting down, so
completely relaxed and safe in that minimal breath had I
become, maybe forever? Recent PFTs from the local hospital
were not good (although we Buteyko people realize that
doesn’t say much) and I stayed away from pulmonologists.
I also remained “awake” throughout - observing from a
distance while upping my daily breathing practice - feeling
strongly that I needed to expand my breath and respiratory
anatomy and physiology in general. And I wanted the
support of a daily practice, group or teacher for this life shift
to occur; it felt too big to do alone.
Enter Kundalini Yoga!
Much to my utter surprise (what a travesty it would have
been in my mind at one point to do hyperventilation
exercises!) after a phone conversation with my Buteyko friend
on an island far away, checking in for the New Year:
He: “I’ve committed to a 40 day kundalini practice. It feels
kinda crazy, long sustained periods of hyperventilation, but I
figure I can reset with Buteyko the rest of the time.”
Me: “Tell me more.”
He: “It’s online. They are awesome people and have beautiful
music. Mutual friends are also doing it. It’s a 40 day
commitment. It starts tomorrow.”
Me: “I’m in.”
It was that simple, exactly what I was calling in. After the first
week, I realized that my breathing was changing in a deeply
profound yet more subtle way, once again in my life.
My daughter when she heard, said in a slightly contemptuous
voice: “I can’t believe you’re doing this after telling us our
whole lives how bad it is!”
Me: “Think about how people go to the gym, workout, hike,
bike, swim… to exercise their bodies. This is like exercising
my lungs; they have needed a good workout for a long time.
It’s only an hour or so a day. Plus I feel more organized, am
tying up lots of loose ends and finishing projects. I’m starting
with the small ones and am moving closer to bigger ones like
getting my book written!”
I feel healthier, I am remembering to drink more water, I walk
vigorously across the rolling hills of Virginia several times a
week and have excellent endurance. I am grateful.