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 Recovery Breathwork
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 – Elevating Breathe 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 – Strengthening Breathe in through your nose as Howard describes, filling belly & then wrapping breath powerfully around waist to strengthen.
Medical Qigong Sound for Kidney Health Inhale deeply as arms & elbows rise. Exhale explosively while dropping to squat and saying “Chui” (pronounced “chew”).
Qigong for Clearing Liver Wind Don’t hold your breath! Try to maintain balance in breathing (in, 2,3,4, out, 2,3.4) throughout the exercise. 
Standing and Balance Breathe deeply into diaphragm & belly. Exhale slowly until there is no air left in lungs. Pause, repeat.
Brain Vibration Chanting Inhale 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 stretching Follow your breath.
Near Hand/ Far Hand Inhale 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 Jyutsu Breathe fully. Visualize energy flowing with the breath.
Sitting Zazen Follow your breath & drop into deep rhythm of waves of air into belly & out of belly. 
Throughout the day Reflect 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,


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