March 14th 2020
In my 30’s I caught whooping cough, while in India, which was not diagnosed until it was over and I was back in the UK. By then it had done some damage to my lungs and, as I was deemed more than usually susceptible to infections, I was sent to a chest clinic. They taught me the Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT), otherwise known as the ‘Huffing Breath’, which has been extremely useful in helping to keep infections at bay. I might even say I seem to be LESS susceptible than I was before the whooping cough!
Here is a link to some physiotherapy descriptions /demo, which I think explain the technique very well.
Over the years I have developed my own ‘yoga’ version, which I use pretty regularly and, at the moment, am using every day. I also find kapalbhati (shining skull breath) very useful (see below).
HUFFING BREATH – ‘YOGA’ VERSION
1. Inhale a complete yoga breath to a count of 4 into: 1. pelvis – 2. lower – 3. middle – 4. upper chest.
Comfortably pace the breath so as not be straining and have enough left to reach the collar bones.
2. Hold for a count of 5 (+/- optional extra: apply yoga locks; lift pelvic floor and close the throat)
3. Press the tongue down and exhale forcefully through the mouth, squeezing out as much breath as possible and imagine misting a mirror about an arm’s length away
4. 1-2 normal breaths
5. Repeat 3-5x = 1 cycle
6. I repeat the cycle in various positions to reach different parts of the lungs; standing or sitting upright, forward bend in standing or kneeling (lungs inverted), on my back, side lying.
This practice can make you cough, as it moves secretions up out of the lungs towards the throat, to be swallowed (so the stomach acid can kill any bugs) or spat out.
NEVER force or strain. The whole sequence should be easy and comfortable.
KAPALBHATI – Shining Skull Breath
This is a yoga cleansing technique for the respiratory tract, which also has many other benefits.
Here is a link to a free pdf, with instructions and pictures, on Kapalbhati
My post on strengthening the immune system contains some other techniques for helping to cleanse the respiratory tract and stop infections from taking hold.