May 2010 – Asthma and Deep Breathing

Do you or a loved one have problems with asthma? Don’t fret, here is a some information and a simple exercise to help with deep breathing.

An asthmatic’s two worst enemies are (1) the fear that he or she may not be able to take another deep breath and (2) the constant tendency to try to breathe heavily into the chest. True deep breathing fills most of the upper torso: the abdomen expands, the ribs and shoulders rise, the upper and lower back expand. Chest breathing is shallow, as it utilizes only a small portion of the lungs. Breathing into the lower parts of the lungs allows more oxygen to enter the blood.

For an asthmatic, exhalation is more difficult than inhalation. This may indicate a very tense and anxious personality. In fact, if you have a harder time letting go of the air than breathing it in, you may be more prone to asthma than others, even if you have not had asthma  you may benefit from the following exercises:

One of your major goals would be to breathe ‘into’ areas which you normally do not use.


Kneel and bend forward, resting your forehead on your knees, and stay in that position. Close your hands into loose fists and tap on your lower back. You will find yourself encouraged to breathe into your lower back, now that your chest is somewhat blocked while your lower back is expanded. Breathe very slowly, without making any effort to breathe very deeply, imagining your lower back expanding as you inhale and shrinking as you exhale.

When you feel the need to use an inhalator, you may sometimes find that just placing yourself in this position will help you breathe more deeply. This will work only if you do not panic – if you do, you may as well use the inhalator – and if you already have experienced improved breathing in this position and are confident that it can help you.

You will also benefit from kneeling in this position and having someone tap on your lower back for a few minutes while you experience breathing deeply to expand your lower back, in and out.

“Both the massage therapy and exercises given to me by Meir Schneider have helped my respiratory problem, cystic fibrosis.  My breathing has deepened, my posture has improved, and the muscles of my shoulders and upper back are a lot stronger.” Tracy Miley, Delaware, OH