Breathwork

In my early years, I suffered from asthma and chronic bronchitis. I "grew out of it" as the saying goes, in my teens.

Some decades later after the birth of our third child, I experienced an unconscious reaction which seemed to create a recurrence of asthma. After a half-hearted attempt at using an inhaler (probably because I wanted to avoid having to use it) and then a "salt pipe" which is a more benign form of inhaler - you just inhale salt - which is healing for the lungs, I had the good fortune to happen upon first The Buteyko Method, and subsequently Strelnikova Gymnastics. 

I taught both of these at a local Yoga centre and both were popular, but those who preferred a more more meditative approach favoured Buteyko and those who enjoyed a more physically active 'gymnastic' approach favoured Strelnikova.

The essence of Buteyko method  is a gradual volitional decrease in the depth of breathing at rest, and during physical activity. The principle of Buteyko breathing is simple - you need to take a shallow, superficial breath for 2-3 seconds, then exhale for 3-4 seconds and try to increase the pause between breaths. You will most likely a feeling of lack of air. 

But this requires learning to constantly relax the respiratory muscles, or rather, the diaphragm, during training until there is a slight sensation of lack of air.

I actually found that an in breath of 2-3 seconds, then exhale for 2 seconds and pause for 2 seconds works fine. This should be done slowly and gently. After about a minute or two, you will feel your body temperature increase and you will feel more relaxed. This is due to the increase in CO2 in the lungs.

In my experience, Strelnikova Gymnastics is far easier to practice. Here are some of the benefits. The ones with an asterisk are those which I have personally experienced:

  • Bronchial asthma *
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Common cold
  • Sinusitis *
  • Tonsillitis
  • Strengthening the immune system *
  • Gastrointestinal diseases *
  • Osteochondritis
  • Arthritis
  • Radiculitis
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia *
  • Mood Disorders *

There is quite a lot of information available regarding Buteyko, but less regarding Strelnikova (and a lot of that is in Russian)

This is a great resource which explains much of the biology and science involved in both these styles of breathwork

The best book or 'manual' I've come across relating to Strelnikova is available as an eBook . It also covers a little of the Buteyko Method's discovery and history.

The book also includes supplementary exercises for specific health conditions

The only problem with the book is that the sequence of exercises is incorrect and apparently this can make a difference

The correct sequence is here

Note: None of the information on this page should be considered "medical advice". If you have any health condition please consult your physician first.