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Breathing Through COVID-19

I am writing to share my changes and give information about some breathing classes I have been attending via Zoom.

I am pretty sure I have had COVID-19. I had a very tight chest, lungs unable to fill, and some other symptoms. This happened quite a while ago, before lockdown, and I recovered on my own and did not go to hospital. The other small symptoms came in mid April.

Because the lung problem happened so early in this pandemic, I didn’t take in the seriousness of my symptoms. I simply recognised that I was going through it and went with the flow.

Like most people, I guess, I have had chest infections before. But in the day or two when the symptoms were at their worst I knew absolutely that this was not the same. My lungs felt in my mind’s eye like the shape of a funnel, and I was unable to take breath into the lower part.

That lasted a few days and then I was OK.

But although I recovered, my lung function was not back to normal.

I didn’t think about it too much until my chest started to feel a bit tight again about three weeks ago.

Coincidentally, via a local WhatsApp mutual help group I heard about a 14-day class on breathing that was on Zoom. It was already the 10th or 11th day of the class. When the class finished the 14-day cycle, a fresh cycle started. And then a third.

So I have done maybe 18 days of the class, maybe a few more. Even after the first day I could feel the difference. My energy was greater and my lung function was much better.

When doing the breathing – a simple technique that is available to anyone – I feel it in my whole body. Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am breathing intentionally or I am watching the breathing happening.

It’s quite a loud sound – it is the Ahh sound we make when the doctor asks us to put our tongue out and say Ahh.

And you just continue to make that sound while the breath escapes your body. When your breath is expelled, you breathe in and do it again. And keep on doing it for some minutes.

That’s it.

Of course that is not quite it. Hold your head up, not tipped backward or forward. And feel the breath as it comes into your body and then let it out in time without forcing the rhythm of your breath.

But it is not difficult and that is it. It’s enjoyable. We do it for different periods – sometimes five minutes, sometimes fifteen minutes. And the time passes quickly – which also tells me I am enjoying it.

I took the class because of COVID, but the breathing benefits are for everybody.

I could have continued with the breathing techniques on my own, but there is an additional benefit in hearing other people and doing it together.

And this is not to forget the teacher, who is very experienced and supportive. To hear the harmonics in his voice when he breathes is unlike anything I have heard before.

I believe many people would be surprised at the sound of breath that comes from his body – quite amazing. It is something to guide us as we explore our own breathing.

One measurement of my breathing function that I can make is the length of time for which I can expel breath. And that is without forcing it out – just letting it come out strongly but in a relaxed way.

A critic could say that part of the progress I am making is technique.

I am more relaxed and I have more energy generally. My mentality is positive.

It is clear to me that the difference in the length of time for which I can expel breath is so striking that technique alone cannot account for it. Something else happens when we circulate breath adequately.

And most importantly from the Covid-19 symptoms, I can take breath in to the bottom of my lungs.

Elephant Walking Off

I photographed the elephant in South Africa when Tamara and I went last September. I have photos of the elephant close up eating bushes. When it had finished eating, it walked past us and went off.

And it’s quite a thought that apart from the risk of poaching, it has nothing to worry about. It has everything it needs and the world is its oyster.

I am trying an overlay of blue sky and clouds in Photoshop, and somehow the elephant stands out OK. What do you think? Does it appeal to you?