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Tai Chi Qigong & Yoga for Asthma Health: Gentle Stress Fighters

Question: What did the sign in the window of the yoga master searching for a new disciple say?

Answer: Inquire within!

[ Danica keeps flexible and open lungs through Yoga and breath work!]

Those of us with Asthma are frequently searching for ways to keep our breathing levels steady. Along with regularly taking asthma control meds, there are methods of gentle physical and meditative exercises that have been shown to improve cardiovascular, and respiratory performance in asthma patients along with a host of other benefits.

Breathing exercises are a positive and effective way to cope with stresses and often anxiety of coping with and help manage asthma.

[ Remember stress can cause the airways to tighten leading to an attack] Tai Chi is Breathing Through Movement that includes a non competitive series of movements

[Cobra Pose]

done in a focused and slow moving way with emphasis on deep breathing. [ 'Heavy Breathers' need all the deep breath work we can get!] Each pose or posture gently flows into the next without pause so the body is in a slow but constant motion. The idea is that during tai chi practice you are moving into a very relaxed mind set as you are focusing on your breath movement. As the body is relaxed, those 'moody' airways will 'chill' out :() and open up!

[ We are warriors against Asthma, lets gather our powerful fighters in this war!]

Tai Chi stems from Chinese medicine and philosophy, and it's considered meditation in motion because the movements performed are what relaxes the whole body. It started as a martial art but was adapted as a method of managing stress and aiding in many health related issues. What I like about taking on one or more of these practices is that there is more and more science based research that is proving that these are whole-self exercises; meaning these movement based therapies allows one to connect spirituality, and to gain greater insight to yourself. ( I'm sure the thousands/millions of people who've used these practices for centuries didn't need any scientific approval!]

The great thing about tai chi is that all ages can participate and for those with joint issues there is very little stress put on these joints. [ We like hearing that! ] Tai is easily performed anywhere as no equipment is required and can be done alone or with a group, and it's even safe for pregnant women, although, you should always check with your doctor.

[ Single Whip Tai Chi: Danica's got this down! ]

Other health benefits of this practice are:

*Increased energy and stamina ( a huge bonus for those with asthma as we often lack energy)

*Improved moods (super for asthma patients as being breath deficient can alter anyone's mood!)

*Greater muscle strength and improved flexibility

*Decreases anxiety, stress and depression (all common among asthma sufferers)

*May enhance sleep

*Improvements in general well being

[ Paint a rainbow Pose in Tai Chi. She came into this practice to help with her extreme Fatigue and frustrations with being diagnosed with multiple food allergies ]

I haven't tacked tai chi before but I've been aware of it and I must say that I'm looking forward to learning how to incorporate this into my asthma management. I'm determined to do whatever I can to manage my asthma, and as of last year; that's been a challenging task that feels like a full time job. There are factors that may be beyond my control with asthma, but adding in components that I believe can help allows me to feel more in control.

Are Tai Chi and Qigong the same? The similarities between the two practices are that both are derived from ancient Chinese health care systems that combines breath techniques, postures and focused attention. Qi (pronounced chee) means vital energy or life force, the second word Gong (pronounced gung) means a skill that's developed through steady practice. Together Qigong translates into a method performed for health improvement, healing and optimization of energy.

Tai chi can be use for self defense as each movement contains specific (fighting) movements.[ Resembling many forms of Martial Arts], the movements can be more detailed. However, most Qigong movements are strictly for relaxing, healing and meditative purposes. Qigong is much more flowing in it's movements and it usually depends on the needs of the participant.

[ Danica is demonstrating the Parry and Punch pose for Qigong! ]

[ Roxanne loves yoga, as she is a former gymnast and suffers from painful joints and osteo- arthritis form an injury.]

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj that means to bind or to yoke ( Union). Yoga differs from traditional stretching in that it's more than just a physical practice, and like tai chi and qigong, it ties together focus breathing and relaxing of the mind.. During yoga Pranayama Breathing is practiced [ the word is translated as an extension of the 'life force' or breath; breath control]. Pranayama is intentionally altering[ or controlling the breath with the purpose of producing desired results. During this kind of breathing you are learning to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and deeper stronger breathing is sold gold for asthmatics[ Heavy Breathers]!! All three of these forms of exercise are effective body-mind boosters, and strengtheners and healthy additions to whole body care. These practices are also great for so many other illnesses and diseases, such as arthritis, lower back pain, lowering blood pressure, assisting with anxiety and

[ Camille is in the Padmasana pose. She has adopted yoga to help manage her adult onset Asthma.

depression. I personally do feel an improvement in my deep breath abilities after a yoga session and especially after practicing pranayama breath work, in fact has been a primary practice for me since last summer when my asthma episodes went from once in a while to uncontrollable. [ more on this in an upcoming blog post]. I also us an app called Pranayama for iOS and I'm sure there's one for android as well :) When I can't find the time for yoga [ though my body has been telling me to Make the time for it lately!] LOL or to learn qigong, this app is a time saving way for me to get in my breath work for healthy and necessary lung support!

[ Taking control of your health is real power! ]

I'm looking forward to plugging into Qigong, or Tai Chi I haven't decided yet. My brain will be happy to continue learning something new[ gotta keep the old 'grey matter' in shape too!!], and I'm thankful to be able to add another weapon to my asthma fighting arsenal because giving into a breathless life is not an option for me! I'll keep everyone abreast on my adventure into these exercises. :{}

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