Every Little Breath
How Yoga Cured my Asthma
By: Aubrey Warren, E RYT
“The bark” is what I call an uncontrollable cough that manifests in my lungs every time I get sick. One frustrated night when I was 4-years old, my mom called our family physician and made him listen to “the bark” in mid-attack. After hours in the doctor’s office asthma was the diagnosis. When I shared the news with my friends, one told me that her grandpa died of an asthma attack. Her words planted a seed deep in my psyche. This “asthma” was something real, something bad, something deadly.
Asthma was a prevalent force in my family’s life through my adolescence. I always had my inhaler. My rural community didn’t have a hospital, so my family invested in a ventilator – a breathing machine that saved my life many times. However, no matter the cause or situation surrounding the attack, there was always one constant – a voice in the back of my head saying, “I know there is something I can do to stop this besides using my breathing machine.” This voice and knowing always prolonged my decision to take my emergency, rescue measures. Unfortunately, the fear of restriction always intensified the attack and, before long I would be in the middle of another medicated breathing treatment.
In my early 20s, I had a chronic bladder infection. Western doctors kept putting me on antibiotics, but the infection never went away. I was frustrated and turned to Chinese medicine. Dr Lee was the first doctor to ask me what I was putting into my body and what was going on in my personal life. His prescription – yoga.
After practicing twice per week for six months, my bladder infection was gone, and I no longer felt the need to puff my inhaler before class. Something was changing in me. With my newfound love and appreciation for yoga, I started teacher-training. Although I was new to the practice, I knew I had found a key that unlocked mysteries deep within myself and it was my dharma (duty) to share this gift with others.
As I delved deeper into my education a light was shone on my experience. Blockages that had formed in my body started to dissipate through my yoga practice. While reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, my history of asthma finally started making sense. Sutra 34 states, “Or that calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath…Where the mind goes, the prana follows. We see that even in our daily life. If your mind is agitated, you will be breathing heavily.” This sutra made me contemplate my mental status before previous attacks and I realized it’s truth.
After some intense Svadhyaya (self-study), I realized that subconsciously the word “asthma” and its clinical definitions had as much hold on me as my body’s true physical reactions to its catalysts. The chaos in my mind led to a form of hyperventilation; the fear of what “asthma” was and its potential led to the tightening of my glottis; while the spiraling cycle of fear in the mind and intensifying physical reactions led to a point of no return – a full blown attack! A breathing treatment left my body so high and exhausted it had no other choice by to relax, to pacify.
I’m not saying that all asthma can be cured through yoga, but I have no doubt it has the potential to reduce the symptoms of even the worst cases. I have been a practicing Yogini since 2002. I have spoken to many asthmatics who all testify of hearing that same “little voice” during an attack that says, “I know there’s something I can do to help myself, but what?”
In regard to the “bark,” yoga didn’t cure that. However, I have been more mindful to realize I have a particular intense allergy season. It’s now a blessing – a reminder to me to take care of myself and seek balance within my life. Through my yoga practice, I no longer consider myself an asthmatic; and if you are one of those people who I speak of, who hear that “little voice” when you’re clinging to every little breath, please try something new. Open your heart to infinite possibilities. Practice finding balance within yourself and your life. Believe in miracles and you just may experience one. I know I did.
Aubrey is a wife and a mom of 2 boys. She has been teaching dance for over 20 years. Aubrey became a certified Group Fitness Instructor in 2003 and has been a Registered Yoga Teacher since March 2007. In the gym-world she taught several different formats for over a decade before discovering Conscious Dance. One day while teaching a Zumba class, she started contemplating her grocery list. In that moment she realized how UNconscious she was and had to ask herself, “If my mind can be someplace else and I’m teaching the class, how present are my students?” This awakening shifted everything in her professional world. She walked away from the gym and dove into the studio. She still loves fitness, but it’s now a virtual world for her. Aubrey teaches weekly Power Vinyasa classes at Keller Yoga, is a Certified Continuing Education Provider and is a core-instructor in Keller Yoga’s YTT program. She facilitates conscious dance practices wherever and whenever she can. Because of her dance background, Aubrey has a unique ability to use music as a tool during asana classes to help facilitate emotional shifting of the practitioners – releasing dis-ease from the physical and energetic bodies and evoke a greater sense of joy and appreciation for the present moment. This use of music has inspired her to take her classes on the road. She taught yoga at 3 different music festivals in 2017 and is excited for her first festival of 2018 (April, Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain). Aubrey has an infectious enthusiasm that leaves her students feeling strong, confident and at peace within themselves. Go join her on the mat or the dance floor and see for yourself!