I am teaching a couple of breathing-focussed workshops this week – as a voice teacher I do that a lot – and this information is always an important aspect of better vocal health and function, but more than that it is important for our overall physical wellbeing too.
Long-term friends know I used to suffer from a great many respiratory health issues: chronic asthma; several viral infections a year, ongoing allergic rhinitis, regular inflammatory infections, specifically bronchitis, sinusitis, tracheitis, plus poor stamina and a range of chronic coughs. My allergies improved significantly after doing a Buteyko workshop almost 20 years ago, but not the other issues, and my stamina worsened so much I succumbed to chronic fatigue. I struggled with the aggressive breath-holding techniques I had been taught during that weekend, and gave them up after a few months; but the strategies I learned for managing and minimising my asthma medication were so effective I have not needed any medication for some time now. I am grateful that a colleague recently encouraged me to revisit The Buteyko Method, as the techniques Patrick McKeown teaches are much gentler, and his more Feldenkrais-friendly approach has inspired me to re-engage with some of the strategies I have been avoiding for the last 19 years.
The one technique I learned from Alexander Stalmatski that I persisted with actually came from the book I bought before I attended that first training weekend: these were the overnight nose-breathing strategies, and the improvements to my respiratory function on waking were so massive that I slept with a plaster over my mouth every night for about 10 years. I only stopped when an overnight stay in the hospital made this seem impractical, as I could not see myself explaining my odd behaviour to my nurses. Anyway, by then I was ready to test my nose-breathing skills overnight unaided, and the health benefits continue to this day, so that now it is hard for me to remember how dreadful I felt on waking all those years ago.
I had to be careful which plasters I was using, as it is all too easy for me to develop skin allergies, and I relied on Elastoplast’s Waterproof plasters for most of that time – they came off very easily, so wearing them while I was sleeping did not generate any anxiety, even when I was feeling rather wheezy and/or suffering from a runny nose. Should a viral infection trigger congested sinuses I could usually unblock my nose and re-attach the plaster during the night, and very, very occasionally I would wake up with the plaster stuck to my fingers, yet still usually breathing better than I would have been in the bad old days.
I mention this last possibility because, although I am intrigued by the plaster design on display towards the end of this video, if you are ready to try taping your mouth overnight you might like to know that there is a more immediately available alternative – plus, you might be a highly sensitive person like me; I am pretty sure I would have developed a reaction to the stronger sticky substance on these well-designed plasters in time, along with a nasty goatee-shaped rash.
I have recommended this nose-breathing training to many fellow sufferers over the years, and it has saddened me to discover that most asthmatics are simply too nervous to try out the overnight-plaster-on-mouth technique. I am happy to say that I think this is probably the man to do a training with for anyone with breathing issues of the severity I used to experience.
I have other healing strategies to offer you, but doing this training is very likely the quickest route to better respiratory health for most people with severe chronic breathing issues. I am always happy to chat about this sort of thing so don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like more information…