*Yoga is not a replacement for medical intervention and a comprehensive asthma action plan created with your doctor. Yoga should only be used as a complimentary method to help with well being and asthma well being. You should discuss with your doctor before starting a new exercise program (including yoga). There have been many studies that looked at yoga as a treatment for asthma, generally it is seen as a net positive but there is not enough evidence to include it as a routine intervention.
Julia White is a well-being expert who has created a holistic and unique approach to living.
Having been diagnosed with asthma at the age of 30 and having watched her sister struggle with her asthma and her breathing, Julia has spent her life helping others to learn and understand how they can breathe more easily.
She uses yoga and pranayama breathwork, to help those with breathing conditions, breathe with more ease and also uses mudras and meditation and aromatherapy and ayurveda for a completely holistic approach that can be used alongside any conventional treatments.
She works with Asthma UK and has filmed several videos for them, showing how yoga and meditation and breath practices can help and assist with their breathing.
These short videos are available through the Asthma Uk website here.
Related article: What is Asthma?
How did your journey with asthma start?
My sister had asthma from a young age so I got used to having to help her with her asthma and her inhalers and pumps etc and it became part of every day life with the hope that she would grow out of it and it would improve as she got older. Unfortunately, whilst her Asthma did indeed get better and there were less doctor and hospital appointments, she suddenly died of an Asthma attack at the age of 17 which shook us all. So when I was then diagnosed with Asthma at the age of 30, it was a very strange and scary experience and so I had to do much research and studying an learn how to manage my asthma to make sure I stayed as healthy as I could.
How did you get your asthma under control when you were diagnosed?
I obviously spent a lot of time with doctors and trying different inhalers and prescriptions to help get it under control as it appeared from nowhere and one day I found myself struggling to breathe and having been through this with my Sister, I knew the signs and symptoms. I had a bad asthma attack one day that resulted in a couple of cracked ribs and so I knew then that I had to take some serious measures to get this under control and so started to look at ways I could change my life that would make my breathing and asthma better. It's a long process and its been a long journey and I take each day as it comes.
And now you are a yoga teacher and you do yoga for people with lung conditions?
So when I was diagnosed with asthma, I knew that I was going to have make some big changes to my life. I had always done yoga as it had been recommended to me when I was young for my juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, so I started looking more deeply at yoga and it's breathing techniques and started practicing and studying it more. This then took me on my path to training to become a yoga teacher, so that I can help others, and show them how yoga can help them and give them tools to help them manage their condition.
What is the biggest problem you see people with asthma struggling with when they come to you?
Many are understandably anxious and scared about their asthma and their breathing and simply don't know where to begin or even if it will help. So I have to calm and relax people before we can attempt to do any breathing techniques. Then of course, once they are feeling better and seeing the benefits, I need to encourage and make sure they continue it and continue to practice.
When people are afraid of their condition or their current state, how do you try to help them through that?
The best thing to do is to get people to relax first of all, having a breathing condition is a scary thing that few understand. Not many people know how it feels to not be able to breathe, so first things first is to relax and then we can begin practicing yoga. This is so important, as when people are stressed, it affects their breathing, so you need to learn to relax and breathe and this is one of the hardest things to do when you have asthma and are struggling to breathe, but this is what I do and this is what will ultimately help them. As I explain to everyone, "if you can breath you can do asthma and if you can't breath you should be in hospital".
Related article: The importance of Pulmonary Rehab for COPD and Asthma.
What benefits are available to someone with a chronic lung condition from yoga ?
Yoga will help them relax and this in turn will help them breathe better and the breathing techniques I use will help them improve their breathing and yoga helps improve their lung capacity as well which in turn will improve their breathing further.
Do you think connecting with your body and your condition through yoga can help manage your condition?
It is so important to connect the mind and the body and to learn and understand your own body and your own condition as this will help you manage your asthma.
How is it best to reach you for someone who would like to do one of your retreats or workshops?
You can email or phone me if you would like to work with me. Alternatively, connect with me on social media