The purpose of Breathing is to take oxygen from air by drawing it into the chest and to throw out the waste gas, carbon dioxide. The respiratory system is suitably designed to provide necessary gas exchange surface area in the air sacs. These air sacs look like branches of grapes in the lung. To enable the air to reach these small, deep seated, air sacs air has to pass through the initial air passages. The big tree of air tubes start from the nose; goes through the throat, the voice box, windpipe, bronchi and ends in broncheoli. The branches divide and re-divide spreading into majority of the lung space. Bronchi are not just passive solid tube but are rigid enough not to collapse during forced exhalation. The bronchi have important function such as
- To open up more widely when more ventilation is required during exercise (called bronchial dilation) or narrow-down if damaging, toxic air tends to enter the air sacs (broncho-constriction).
- Also these tubes have enormous amount of ‘border security’ function. They protect against any germ-invasion (infection) that may result in local bronchitis spreading to the whole body.
Bronchiectasis is a condition where both these functions are damaged. Eetsia means abnormal widening; ectasia of bronchus means they have lost the capacity to increase or decrease the caliber of the tube. This happens because of damage to the elastic material of the air tubes.
What are the causes?
The commonest cause of damage to the structure of bronchus is common childhood infections such as measles, whooping cough, pneumonia etc. In adults this condition is seen after a major pneumonia or infective bronchitis. By birth the bronchial tubes are widened and have very minimal pliability. Thus Bronchiectasis may also be congenital.
In addition, the lining of the bronchi are unhealthy with poor defense and hence they become vulnerable to infections. This leads to repeated episodes of infection alternating with periods of healing which further results in sear formations that lead to further damage. This process increases the damage to the bronchi. Later these damaged tubes become a permanent home for many dangerous germs which can lead to blood related infections also.
What are the symptoms?
Repeated episodes of cough, phlegm and fever, that require antibiotics. The doctor suspects bronchiectasis. X-ray and other tests confirm the suspicion. Characteristic complaint is of bringing out of large quantities of sputum after getting up in the morning that looks and smells like pus. In dry bronchiectasis they may produce sputum with blood.
What is the role of Yoga?
Yoga can work at two levels
- Cleansing the air passages
- Improving immunity to infection
For cleansing of air passages, start the daily practices with about 10-12 physical postures. Start with standing asanas alternating between backward bending, forward bending, right bending and left bending. Begin with fast alternating forward backward bending, bend with breathing. Then maintain in Ardhachakrasana with normal breathing followed by Padahastasana (for 3 minutes) with normal breathing. After this (sometimes during this if cough comes up) do mukha dhouti and cough actively to bring out all the phlegm. Repeat in the same order for side bending and twisting too – fast side bending with breathing, slow maintenance with awareness in Trikonasana – cough and mukha dhouti. Clear the phlegm.
Go on this way with three supine postures, 3 prone postures end with 3 sitting postures. Finally a deep rest in Shavasana will give a clean feeling. Everyalternate day practice Neti and Vamana dhouti Kriya which will be very useful for this cleansing. Kapalabhati Kriya practiced 4 times a day is important to prevent accumulation of unhealthy trapped deoxygenated air in the damaged bronchi.
To prevent repeated infections and also to fight the infection effectively, it is important to go into very deep restful state of body and mind through different pranayama and meditation techniques. At VYASA we have been teaching simple pranayama practices followed by MSRT and PET. All these meditative techniques end with silent expanded calm state of mind in which the resolve works.
Stress management is very important as stress is an important aggravating factor for poor immunity.
Several cases of Bronchiectasis treated at this centre have remained healthy with good quality of life with regular practice of IAYT.
MRIGASANA – the Deer
Starting Position: Prone posture
- Lie on the abdomen. Bend the elbows and place the chin in the hands.
- Breathing normally look at a point in the distance.
- Bending the knees alternately move the right and left leg up and down slowlyand in a relaxed way.
Has a very relaxing and balancing effect upon body and mind. Especially beneficial for relaxing the supine, hips and knees. Relaxes the digestive system and deepens the breath and promotes concentration.