Small Breaths of Fresh Air (from Thailand Tattler Magazine, Thailand)

SMALL BREATHS OF FRESH AIR
We are normally told to breathe in deeply to get oxygen into the lungs. The man who started a new breathing technique says that for therapeutic results, the oppposite is true.

By DJ Bee, Thailand Tattler December 1999 Issue

As a radio DJ here in Thailand I’m quite used to being told that I talk too much but I must say I was a little taken aback when I met Jac Vidgen and he told me that I breathed to much! My bottom jaw almost hit the floor.

“Keep your mouth shut” he snapped before breaking out into a cheeky chuckle and adding “and breathe through your nose!”

Lost for words, I sat and listened as Jac went on to explain the basic principles of Buteyko, a breathing technique which is used by Russian Cosmonauts and Asthma sufferers worldwide. Before promising to keep my mouth shut, I persuaded Jac to let me sit in on one of his sessions to find out more.

The technique, which he travels Asia teaching, trains people to learn to recognise their own over-breathing patterns and how to retrain their breathing to normal levels. The method is getting worldwide attention with a documentary in the UK on the BBC and numerous programs on Australian TV, while here in Asia, Jac was recently featured on a special Buteyko CNN report as the first person to introduce the method to the region.

The results he told me were astounding. Immediate relief from the symptoms of asthma, sleep disorders, allergies, and stress to name just a few.

Furthermore long term practice brings huge benefits in sports performance, respiratory conditions like emphysema & COAD, weight control and skin disorders.

Even children as young as four years old have benefited from the technique.

The method was developed by Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian respiratory physician, who discovered that the stresses of modern living have resulted in most of us chronically overbreathing, which creates imbalances in oxygen/carbon dioxide levels, causing reduced oxygen supply to the cells and a myriad of breathing disorders and general ailments.

Buteyko’s research suggests that these illness develop as the body endeavors to compensate for the imbalance caused by incorrect breathing habits.

Jac was introduced to the method by a friend, who was teaching the technique in Australia and needed help with administration and promotion. Initially, he was employed to telephone past patients in Melbourne from Sydney, to tell them that they were coming back with the next workshop and invite them for a free follow up.

The first question he asked them was how they were doing. He spoke to hundreds of people, very quickly it became apparent to him how devastating asthma was in peoples lives and how successful the method was. The response made him very excited. He also realized that previously, he had always thought he was fairly fit and if anyone had asked how his breathing was, he would have told them it was fine.
He’d learned yoga and how to sing with no problems. When he took time to observe his own breathing he realized the he too was overbreathing.

It suddenly dawned on him that he’d been plagued with 44 years of constant irritation from chest, sinus and throat infections, allergies and hay fever.

He realized that he too needed to sort out his own breathing. Once he did, he alleviated all the problems. In the last six years he hasn’t taken any antihistamine, antibiotics or decongestants for anything in the respiratory region.

What also happened was, he needed less sleep, his energy levels became higher, his immune system got stronger and didn’t feel the need to take any Vitamins. Jac added that medical studies indicate that all asthmatics overbreathe and, in fact, it seems over ninety percent of people breathe incorrectly.
Yet current conventional medicine rarely looks at people’s breathing habits from a diagnostic perspective.

So, three days later I sat with Jac and his patient (lets call him Mr A) an Asthma sufferer who gets attacks at least once a week. Jac explained that he would he teach us how to retain and use our CO2 ( Carbon Dioxide ) as a natural smooth muscle dilator by following a strictly supervised program of breathing exercises.

He added that the program wasn’t difficult, but a coach was needed because although in essence method is fairly simple, it’s easily misunderstood and often has to be modified to suit a patient’s state of health.

Dr Buteyko himself says that the technique should never be learnt from books or videos because practitioners need to see what’s going on and give the patient feedback in the early stages.

First of all, Jac got a detailed history of our health. He then took our pulse and proceeded to teach us how breathe to less through our nose.
The thought crossed my mind that this was the first time that I had ever paid any serious attention to something my life constantly depended on. We eattwo or three times a day, we breathe twenty thousand to thirty thousand times per day and we can go without food for days, but we can’t go without air for more than five minutes.

Towards the end of the first session both Mr A and myself both felt immediate improvements in our breathing. Jac gave us a routine which we were to practice at home that night and the next day. Throughout the following day I paid close attention to my breathing and avoided deep breaths through the mouth. The result was quite amazing although I slept less and had a big drop in appetite my energy level increased and the usual stressful day at work was a breeze while people around me puffed and panted I stayed calm and centered.

Over the course of the next sessions Mr A also felt big improvements in both his breathing and general health. He told us one day that while out shopping he did have an asthma attack but instead of puffing on his inhaler he used the Buteyko method and overcame the attack easily.
Scientific trials conducted in Australia have shown that asthmatics are able to reduce relief medication by at least 90% and preventative medication by 50% after practicing the Buteyko Technique.

Great news for asthma sufferers but the drug companies manufacturing inhalers may gasp at the inevitable cut in sales.

So next time sometime tells you to take a deep breath, think twice, and tell them to check their physiology books.