Breath Retraining in the Management of Asthma
by Barbara Benagh
A Turning Point
Like 90% of diagnosed asthmatics, I relied upon popular medications, using a combination of inhalers and Prednisone to prevent and relieve symptoms. I had also tried a number of alternative therapies like herbs, acupuncture, and dietary supplements, which were of some help. I was vigilant about avoiding the common triggers of asthma attacks. But none of these strategies provided long term relief from my symptoms, nor did they free me from drugs and hospital visits, which had come to average about five a year.
Most perplexing, the pranayama techniques that I had practiced for years and that I thought would help me actually triggered symptoms (especially those exercises which emphasized the inhalation or its retention). Later I would understand why, but at the time I felt helpless. I was afraid to take less medicine, but my situation was deteriorating.
Then in late 1995 it happened. Two days after coming down with the flu, I went into respiratory failure and spent the next three days unconscious in intensive care on a respirator. Later I was told I nearly died.
During my long recuperation I had ample time to contemplate my predicament. I had to come to terms with the fact that the medicines I had been taking were no longer helping me. I knew my asthma was severe enough to be fatal, and might be unless I took proactive steps to improve my circumstances. I had to find something new.