Tag Archive for: asthma

Catch a glimpse into an experiment in progress by one of the Axis Yoga Teacher Training students.

The following posts describe how this student adopted some new habits and changed some old ones in an effort to finally deal with chronic allergies and asthma. With the help of Ayurveda and Yoga this student, like many others, discovers their own power to effect change and healing in all parts of the body.

For my Ayurvedic experiment, I chose to attempt to alleviate something more physically immediate that was plaguing my existence: allergies. I have struggled with allergies, asthma, and eczema my whole life. I was always trying to figure out what was causing it but with very little effort into truly trying to understand the why’s and what’s of the cause and just hoping it would miraculously go away some day. I lived in Hawai’i when from ages 3-6 and I seemingly had no allergies there (except to cats). We moved to Florida right before my 7th birthday and that is where my struggles began. I would have frequent asthma attacks and needed to be hooked up to a nebulizer in order to breathe. It was miserable. I seemingly grew out of it but have noticed recently that perhaps I haven’t grown out of my asthma and allergies as much as I’d thought.

This experiment has led me to speculate that perhaps my asthma is allergic asthma. While my focus was not so much my asthma, the two are very much interrelated. I began taking the following herbs for Pitta and Kapha allergies: 8 shatavari; 1 guduchi; 1/4 shanka bhasma; 2 sitopaladi; 2 yasthi madhu (licorice); 2 turmeric; 2 coriander. I have been taking ~2 tsp once a day with warm water since March 20th. The first week was a little bit of a struggle, as I missed 3 days of taking it due to forgetfulness. I strongly dislike the feeling I get when I haven’t held up my end of a deal and told myself I need to figure out a way to prioritize it so that I don’t forget. I have found that taking the ~2tsp once a day during my morning routine is most effective for me.

At first the taste was not as bad as I was expecting. It reminded me of the end of a cereal box, where all of the grainy sugar and sweetness lies, except minus the sugar. It tasted slightly sweet, which I appreciated (as I gravitate towards such things), but swallowing was a little difficult. I could feel every grainy piece of the herbs I was taking. The first time I took it, I tried to just open my mouth, drop my head back, and dump the herbs on the back of my tongue to avoid any sensory displeasure. This technique backfired as I inhaled and simultaneously drew the herbs into my lungs and erupted into a coughing fit of regret and annoyance. I learned my lesson. It has now been 8 consecutive days that I have taken the herbs everyday without forgetting. I don’t feel that I have that much to report on in the way of results, but I can testify to the other doors that have been opened for me during this process.

During the beginning of the experiment I was very motivated to see if living a more pitta soothing life would make a difference for my asthma. I was lucky that week one happened during the Ayurveda section of our class. I felt very supported my classmates who were also working hard, and Beth Sanchez who was very available to help with any questions that arose. Upon reviewing Dr. Lad’s and the Ayurvedic institutes guidelines for what would help soothe pitta dosha and asthma I realized that I was going to have a very measured week ahead of me. During the week I followed the sleep wake guidelines: waking up at 5:30AM and falling asleep by 10:00PM. When I woke in the morning I did a 30 minute mediation practice focusing my pranayama practice on nadi sodhana and sitali. Following my meditation practice I did a very short, (15 minute) grounding asana practice. I had to certain that I was finished with this practice by 7:00AM so that I could eat breakfast at the appropriate time. For breakfast each day I ate oatmeal with sweet apples. I noticed on the first day how much more alert and motivated I felt when I stepped into the workplace. Asthma aside I enjoyed how I felt. For the entire week I diligently followed the eating times: 7AM for breakfast, 12PM for lunch 6PM for dinner. I ate a rather bland diet (as suggested), and cut out what seemed to be every food that I loved. In addition, each morning and night when I showered I infused the air with Eucalyptus or Cedar essential oils. I could feel the menthol of the Eucalyptus seeping into my body and almost calming my airways. By the end of the week my bronchial tubes only felt constriction very rarely. During this week I used my inhaler on average twice (2 puffs) per day. This was a drastic reduction from my normal usage.

During the second week of the experiment I lived a completely unmeasured and chaotic lifestyle, and I paid for it. I started off by paying no attention to the time I went to sleep or when I woke up. I went to bed when I was tired, sometimes this was 9:30PM and other times it was midnight. Consequently this effected my wake time as well. When I went to sleep at 9:30PM I found myself naturally waking around 7:00AM and on the nights I went to sleep at 12AM I was naturally waking closer to 8:00AM. I did not practice meditation or asana, I just simply woke, showered and went to work. I felt so groggy and cloudy when I arrived at work and noticed that it took hours before I felt fully awake. I also paid no attention to what I ate or when I ate it. I was eating pizza, cookies, and other sweets; these are items that I generally don’t even eat during my ‘normal’ life. I must admit from the gluttonous taste side these items tasted delicious, but I could feel the terror they were wreaking on my body. Before the end of the week I noticed an obvious weight gain around my abdomen, my skin was breaking out and I felt a general sense of lethargy. Although all of theses implications were negative what I was focused most on was my inhaler usage. During this week I also stopped performing the aromatherapy while I showered. There was a HUGE increase in my inhaler usage from week one to week two. As referenced above in week one I was using my inhaler an average of twice (2 puffs) per day. During week two my average inhaler usage went up to 5 times (10 puffs) per day. Although is a huge increase in inhaler usage my general sense of well-being felt compromised as well.

Overall, I felt like this experiment was very telling in many ways. What we feed our body and how we incorporate both exercise of the mind and body into our daily routine is very important. Although it is often time a ‘hassle’ to structure a day with such precision it makes the day far more enjoyable. I do not think that I will be able to live a life that follows all of the teachings of Ayurveda, but I do think that I will take some of the teachings in order to live a more mindfully aware life.