Friday, January 9, 2015

Yoga and Asthma Progress

As I'd mentioned before, as of the beginning of the year, I've been doing yoga
The white line represents my peak flow readings.
The green is my highest personal reading, while the
red and yellow are indicated on my peak flow meter.
It's from a free app called Asthma Tracker through
the Amazon store.

every day and tracking my peak flow readings for my asthma.

It was a little rough in the beginning, since I had an attack due to dust on the second, another attack due to not taking my inhaler before going out to run on the third and the final attack on the fourth, because I was still pushing myself too hard.

Since, then however? My breathing has been getting progressively better. Despite the dip in readings on the 5th/6th, I wasn't having trouble breathing on those days.

I've discovered that part of my problem has been that I habitually breathe more shallowly than is natural.

Apparently, that's a common problem in asthmatics. It's a little odd, right? Breathing is an unconscious action, so why does that happen?

I guess the nature of the disease comes in. When someone's having an asthma attack, the problem isn't breathing in, despite how it feels. Air actually gets trapped in the chest, which is why it's hard to get a deep breath. When someone has a prolonged attack, their ribcage actually becomes distended because of that. We end up breathing shallowly, because that's all we can do.

Once airways relax, swelling goes down and mucus is thinned, we can finally exhale the stale air to make room for the fresh stuff. Asthma literally sucks.

Interestingly enough, I've actually had a chiropractor end an attack I didn't realize was taking place. She noticed the right side of my back was hard to the touch, and when she pressed down, the air was forced out. Suddenly, I could breath easily again.

Anyway, I guess our bodies get used to the shallow breathing we're forced to do during an attack, even when we're not having acute problems.

That's where the yoga comes in. A big part of that particular discipline is concentrating on getting full, deep breaths. That's why other breath intensive activities, like the martial arts, swimming and choir, are so great for asthmatics. To do any of these things, you need to learn how to concentrate on using the full lung, which helps form the habit of healthy breathing.

Since catching on to that, my readings have improved, as you can see from the chart above. Up until yesterday, the highest reading I've gotten was 450, but yesterday I managed to get up to 500.

It should be interesting to see how much yoga actually improves my breathing.

As for running? I haven't been out since the third. The temperature dropped dramatically, and it's too dangerous for me to go out unless I need to. Once it gets a bit warmer, into the 20s (Fahrenheit, that'd be above 6 Celsius) at least, I'll start that up again.

I'll still have to think about ice, but at least I won't be at quite as much risk of another attack.

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