I have been doing Buteyko exercises for a period of three years, but very badly and on my own. In the first year I continued medication, four puffs of steroid Beclaforte a day. The second year I reduced this by half for about six months, then to two puffs every other day, expecting my own immune system to take up the slack. For this past year I have relied entirely on Buteyko exercises--no medication whatever. Nine years ago when I started taking Beclaforte I thought it was a miracle. Before that, every day from the time I got up till about noon from September till June I spent coughing and trying to get free of congestion. Nights were usually good except when bronchitis joined with asthma to make them bad. Becalforte changed that. Then came Buteyko.

I first came across mention of Buteyko with the alt asthma news group. I subscribed to a list kindly run by Mark Reardon. The chemistry and science of it sounded convincing enough. The practice sounded absurd. It was several months before I taped my mouth, secretly. The whole idea seemed so ridiculous. I was also apprehensive. But the results were astounding as many others have recognized. And now it takes an effort to recall with what reluctance and scepticism I approached Buteyko. Mind you, though the chemistry had impressed me, I didn't understand a word. But I was now ready to exercise two or three times a day. Like many others I imagined shallow breathing meant chest breathing, not reduced breathing, and I didn't know how that was to be accomplished. Eventually I read the experience of someone who had learned the two- and three- second routine, definitely using the diaphragm. I followed that example but not very comfortably because there was no sense of rhythm. Next I read about the four breaths a minute programme and that is my current pattern.

On the strength of that I would not care to give anyone else advice. I would rather like my experience to inspire someone: keep trying against all the odds, that is the message I try to give. I have never used maximum pause, seldom taken my pulse and have kept no daily record. On the few occasions I slip past sixty seconds, I hold back. I'm not training to be a wrestler and I'm not looking for a high. The latter if not the former can be dangerous.

At seventy-seven I'm the same age as Dr Buteyko (three months younger) and I daresay he huffs and puffs a bit up hills and experiences spells of indigestion. I am comfortable at a forty-second pause. As I move towards fifty seconds the reactions are very unpleasant. I experience episodes of throwing up that seem to asphyxiate. Clearing indeed! So I back off for a while, do no breath-holding at all--just measured breathing.

From monitoring this list and the one before it I have become keen on doing it on my own. It is rather like the decision to stop smoking. No one can do it for you. Joining groups, having someone giving advice, taking pills, is putting off the inevitable, awesome realization: You are on your own. You must do it yourself. And sooner or later the brain centre that demands an engrained but damaging habit gets that message. No nonsense. You have won. And though Beclaforte is a miracle, for me Buteyko is a greater miracle. It delivers you from being compelled to lease your immune system from transnational pharmaceutical cartels. Your mind would be next.

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