Fighting Parkinson’s, and a comprehensive look at breathing

Okay. We all know that breathing is important. However, proper breathing will make a substantial difference in so many areas of your life: toxin removal, increased energy, speech (strength and articulation), and the ability to do Brain Vibration Chanting in the most effective manner and moving your system from sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to parasympathetic (calm and relaxed) nervous system. So, today, let breathe!

I will begin with some basic reminders from the past to remind you of how to do deep belly, or deep diaphragm, breathing:

I started with the basics. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Here is a method to assist with bringing in the most amount of oxygen possible. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. This should have lowered the small of your back to the floor. Place one hand on your chest and one on your navel. Inhale slowly and see which hand rises. If it is your navel hand, you are breathing into your diaphragm and you are in good shape for deep breathing exercises. If it is your chest hand, you need to practice. When I first learned diaphragm breathing, I would push out my stomach prior to the inhale and try to direct the airflow down to my expanded stomach. With Parkinson’s, rigidity will fight this, so be patient.

Once you have mastered diaphragm breathing, do this:
1. Inhale deeply for a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
3. Exhale for a count of 4.
4. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
If you can do this set of breathing four times in a row, it should go a long way to helping with the breathing issues you are facing with Parkinson’s.

If you are having a difficult time taking in a large breath, In “Not Always So,” Shunryu Suzuki suggests starting with an exhale…he says to exhale like it is your last breath before you die. Keep pushing out air until your body forces an inhale. This method will certainly force your system to comply.

Another way he discusses breathing and exhaling first is in how you view the process. He says, first exhale to blow out all of the toxins and impurities, then you are ready to receive a breath of the world’s nourishment. Instead of “taking” a breath or air, you are “receiving” Mother Nature’s nourishment. I like these ideas and practice them, but the key is to breathe deeply and exhale fully…and breathe through your nose!

Practicing this type of deep breathing gets you ready to work on your speech. Here goes:
1. Sit up straight and inhale a deep breath. The sitting up straight will open up your abdomen and allow the lungs to push down the diaphragm and fully fill with oxygen.
2. Exhale through your mouth while saying aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Say this as loud as you can for as long as you can. This will help shake loose phlegm and other toxins on your vocal cords and help you feel the strength of your breath and your voice.
3. Repeat four more times.

To add in better articulation, do this:
For one minute each, repeat the following sounds.
1. lalalalalalalalalalala…
2. nananananananana…
3. tatatatatatatatatata…
This is strengthening your tongue for better articulation. When you put this together with the aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you will build a stronger voice with better articulation.

For Brain Vibration Chanting in the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery®:
I would sit up straight, take a deep breath, and then I would chant as many times as possible on that breath. When I ran out of air, I would pause, take another deep breath, and then continue. This meant that I did not have to focus on my breathing while doing the chanting, and it prevented yawning from lack of oxygen, which can interfere with getting a good pace going while doing Brain Vibration Chanting.

Recently, I was on a coaching call and fellow warrior Lori was asking me a lot about breathing. She had read what I have written in the past about breathing, and was asking me about the specific breathing I did when I had Parkinson’s and was doing the Recipe.

I explained about the breathing I did, and I explained that the reason that I did not include extensive breathing instructions in the Recipe Qigong was because the Medical Qigong was difficult enough to learn and with perfectionist minds, additional breathing instructions would have made doing the Recipe untenable for many. I figured that people’s breath would fit into how they did the Qigong exercises.

After further discussion, Lori expressed that maybe the breathing I done while doing the Recipe exercises did more for me than I thought, and she recommended that I read a book called “Breath,” by James Nestor. I finished this wonderful book on breathing, and was happy to see that the way I have been breathing for years, nose breathing, including the breathing I did when doing the Recipe, promotes good health. Mouth breathing promotes illness.

Additionally, Nestor points out that the nerves in the upper part of the lungs go to the sympathetic nervous system. This means that shallow, huffing and puffing upper lung breathing from fear or anxiety leads to promoting the fight or flight adrenaline, which is contrary to Parkinson’s healing.

He also points out that the nerves in the lower lobes of the lungs go to the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that long, deep belly inhales and exhales promote calm and relaxation as well as toxin removal, better digestion, and better bowel toxin removal.

After I thanked Lori for her lively breathing discussions and the book recommendation, I told her that she had prompted me take the time to write a comprehensive blog post about breathing. Much to my surprise (and joy, and gratitude), an email arrived from Lori outlining helpful breathing to go along with the Recipe exercises. She said to share it with all of you.

Thank you Lori, for all of your assistance in prompting me to write this blog post and for providing the follow information:

Parkinson’s Recipe for RecoveryBreathwork
Medical Qi Gong for the Liver Follow breath – inhale deeply when raising arms. Exhale when placing hands on/ bringing qi to your torso. Inhale while rotating. Exhale while reversing direction, or, if this is too long, inhale & exhale evenly (3 in, 3 out, 3 in, 3 out). Breathe deeply & sway like a willow when alternate bending (side to side / forward & back). Inhale while folding forward. Exhale as you point to toes. Repeat.
Medical Qigong Sound for Calming the Liver  Inhale / exhale deeply as Howard describes.  Visualize breath as qi going to all parts of body, particularly stuck areas.
Medical Qigong for Kidneys – ElevatingBreathe in through your nose as Howard describes, filling belly & then emptying with breath energy flowing to brain like bellows on a fire. Breathe in through your nose and, after getting used to it, try breathing out through your nose to increase intensity.
Medical Qigong for Kidneys – StrengtheningBreathe in through your nose as Howard describes, filling belly & then wrapping breath powerfully around waist to strengthen.
Medical Qigong Sound for Kidney HealthInhale deeply as arms & elbows rise. Exhale explosively while dropping to squat and saying “Chui” (pronounced “chew”).
Qigong for Clearing Liver WindDon’t hold your breath! Try to maintain balance in breathing (in, 2,3,4, out, 2,3.4) throughout the exercise. 
Standing and BalanceBreathe deeply into diaphragm & belly. Exhale slowly until there is no air left in lungs. Pause, repeat.
Brain Vibration ChantingInhale fully into belly, chant several times until all air is completely expended from lungs. Try using high & low octaves or variety of volume in the chanting too. It adds variety & strengthens vocal chords.
Neck stretchingFollow your breath.
Near Hand/ Far HandInhale fully into belly, chant until all air is completely expended from lungs.  Try using high & low octaves or variety of volume in the chanting too.  It adds variety & strengthens vocal chords.
Jin Shin JyutsuBreathe fully. Visualize energy flowing with the breath.
Sitting ZazenFollow your breath & drop into deep rhythm of waves of air into belly & out of belly. 
Throughout the dayReflect on breathing…breathe clear strong air in to calm tremors.  Notice when you’re holding your breath (walking without balance, feeling rigidity)… stretch out & let your breath come into your soul, mind & body to release the tightly held muscle.

Since you have to breathe to live, why not breathe in a manner that also will improve the quality of your life and your recovery!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,

Howard

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15 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and a comprehensive look at breathing

  1. Liz says:

    Thank you thank you thank you Howard. This is a perfectly timed post!

  2. Jennifer A says:

    Excellent!

  3. Neville S says:

    Thank you Howard, and also Lori for her contribution. I know what I am doing in the next exercises.

  4. Val H says:

    This is an enormous lot to take in and I admit I find it daunting … anything which goes into the realms of the ‘technical’. Howard is quite right; if I’d faced extensive breathing instructions in the Recipe, I would have found it off-putting. My initial reaction on reading the blog today was: No! No! No! – but I’m going to come back to it and digest it properly, especially considering all the trouble you and Lori have gone to to put all the information together and share it for the benefit of everyone. Thank you, both. It’s certainly pertinent to me and my Parkinson’s fight because I consider I have developed respiratory issues over the past year because of my posture. It feels like my organs have been compressed as the result of my stance and that I am already ‘belly-breathing’, but not in a good way. More in a desperate way, like my lungs are being bypassed. I did get interested in breathing techniques some time ago, as a result of reading about the work of Carl Stough, but it felt like too much trouble to follow up. My intention is to print out this blog and put the tips into practice. I will be reading the comments with interest as well, to see how other people feel about breathing disciplines.

  5. Miel says:

    Great post Howard, thank you very much!

    For those who want a breath meditation I recommend one text from Rudolf Steiner. (Translated by me and Google.)

    GREAT BREATHING EXERCISE (Rudolf Steiner)
    (breathe calmly and deeply in the morning and evening without exertion)

    I breathe the breath of life.
    I send thoughts of love to all of humanity.

    I breathe the life-giving ether,
    I send thoughts of love for all people.

    I breathe the eternal movement of divine life,
    I send wishes of health for all people.

    I breathe the powerful universal life spirit,
    I destroy all weaknesses of body and soul.

    The breath of one life has a healing effect on all organs,
    For this I send faith and strength to all people.

    I am strengthened and renewed by the cleansing breath of life.
    I send out wishes of well-being and wealth for all.

    I receive the fullness of divine love,
    I send the fullness of love to every creature.

    So breathe everyone who is born of God.

  6. Steve E says:

    Howard, thanks for the fantastic post. I’m looking to incorporating these breathing principles into my recovery routine.

  7. Robert says:

    Excellent post Howard!! Thank you so much, I will incorporate breathing into my daily routine.

  8. Karen In Ireland says:

    Hi Howard, thank you for today’s post and thank you Lori for your contribution. I am with Val, in that there is a lot to take in and I love easy, because I am lazy when it comes to learning as my loyal brain has enough to contend with on a daily basis. BUT, I have to admit that when I learn daily meditation mantras, I find it helps sharpen my memory for other information. So, like Val, I will copy it and learn it little by little.
    I absolutely know from experience that when I become overwhelmed, that deep breathing distracts my mind and returns me to calm.
    I also noticed that when I do the aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, (learned from previous post) that initially there was a tremor in the sound, it was not fluent, if that makes sense, but is improving. The la la, na na, ta ta, really does improve your articulation as I felt as if I sounded like I was getting a lisp. I remember these sounds, as they are easy, which pander to my lazy streak lol. 😁
    Big love to you Howard and all my fellow warriors. A big hello and “hang in there“ to my lovely friend Cynthia who is having a particularly hard time right now, bless her.xx
    Karen xx💕💕

  9. Rick says:

    Thank you Howard and everyone for your input . Yes Val a lot to take in , l read it and came back to it to make sure I’m breathing correctly , I’ve always been Conscious of this anyway so I’m on the right path. Just over 7 months now doing the recovery and I’m finding I have more Brain clarify , my left arm still shakes and is slightly
    Bent and l still walk with a foot drop . Staying strong until
    Im Parkinson’s free as I have nothing to Lose but a lot to gain. Thinking of you all and Love to everyone ! Ps my 9 year daughter watches me doing my qigong and sometimes copies me and Tayla went to a lot time drawing up all my exercises and made up her own folder for me to follow with I love you Daddy, priceless, Bless her heart ❤️

  10. Rabindar says:

    Thank you Howard and Lori for the breathing technique to be used with the Recovery Exercises. I will try to incorporate these breathwork techniques into my daily routine. Thank you.

  11. Mona says:

    Respected Howard sir,
    Thanks for giving comprehensive recipe of recovery. I felt as if I was summerisng the whole recipe in 10 min.Thanks to Lori for detailed breething pattern. Good luck to all my fellow warriors. Love Mona

  12. Tery and Werni says:

    Dear Howard and Lori
    What a wonderful explanation and the support you both are offering in this blog,
    many, many thanks, we appreciate your work enormously.

  13. Colette says:

    Hello Howard and Lori,
    Thank you so much for the information on breathing. I used to belly breathe on a regular basis but with Parkinson’s and other health issues, it went right out the window. I already started to belly breathe, but struggles with the breathing in the Recipe so I am grateful for the instructions.
    I am new to blogging, never did until now. Howard’s book which I consider a must-have, brought so much hope and this community is wonderful. I am so happy to meet people who are willing to do the work and win. I believe in the healing power we have inside of us and Howard is proof of it. Thank you

  14. Lori K says:

    Such kind comments… I’m glad the breathwork is inspiring (pun intended) for you as much as it has been for me. Don’t let the comprehensive nature turn you off… You’re all breathing today! I’d use the sections to play with breath when it seems uneven or like you’re holding your breath… from there you can find your tempo.

    I look forward to the day that we all meet in Howard’s backyard to celebrate our recoveries!

    Lori

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