Written by Magdalena Larsson.
Lotorp Massage, Jala Neti and Yoga completely changed my life.
Read on and I’ll tell you how.
I grew up in a family where several people around me had asthma and/or allergies of some sort. They say these kind of respiratory problems run in the family.
When I was seven, I experienced one of the worst summers of my life. Suddenly, I couldn’t see because my eyes were swollen from grass allergy and I was constantly coughing and my throat was itchy and irritated. Needless to say, my parents did what most would’ve done: they took me to a doctor who prescribed me a lot of expensive medication.
When I started secondary school, I realized I also had asthma and needed medicine for that too if I wanted to be able to go for a walk and breathe at the same time. During spring and summer, when gym class was held outdoors, I rarely attended due to breathing difficulties when Mother Earth is blooming.
Don’t get me wrong, where I went to school, we had awful teachers, and gym class was a bad joke, so I was more than happy to get out of it!
Still, not being able to breath properly feels like a handicap, something that not only slows you down in life, but also could easily drag you down into depression. Imagine not being able to do what other kids do or simply to be outside trying to enjoy our magical nature while taking a bunch of pills, eye drops and what not. Diseases, ailments, and all kinds of stagnation in the body’s prana or air flow could turn anyone’s mind into a victimized state, especially those of chronic sufferers.
As with everything I create in my life, I am the one responsible for my own well-being and happiness. This may, of course, be difficult to truly understand when already in a victimized state, with a feeling-sorry-for-myself-mind. Thus, it is a relief to know that there are things you can do to ease the situation.
No, really, there are hands-on, natural ways to get rid of asthma and allergies, despite what the Western doctors tell you.
I was told for a long time that I would have to live with my severe allergies for all of my life; I was given medication that slowed me down, made me tired and I developed a constant nose bleeding.
For a few years, I was even part of their experiment where they gave me shots of the substances I was allergic to every week, one in each arm. They claimed it might reduce my problems. It did not. It made it worse, and I suddenly also got allergic to a bunch of different fruits and foods that I earlier had been able to eat without any breathing problems.
One dark afternoon in the fall of 2009, I met a massage therapist who claimed he could help me reduce my problems—both the asthma and the various allergies I had (grass, cats, dogs, nuts, fruits, etc.). I must admit I was not cheering out loud in excitement after all those experiments I had been through, but since he said all I needed to do was to visit him for a couple hours, three times and during a period of about four months, I decided to give it a try. He said no drugs were involved, only a special massage technique that had been developed in Sweden and that, sadly, no one has heard of. This was my gateway to a life free from heavy medication, asthma and allergies.
I continuously recommend this treatment to my friends and clients with similar problems to the ones I had. I know there are more of you coughing, itching, heavy breathers (but still nature lovers!) out there and, hence, this article came into being. I want to share with you my story of how I got rid of my severe allergy that weighed me down to the extent that I couldn’t enjoy life the way I wanted. I hope that sharing this important information can help you reach there too.
1. The Lotorp Method
The Lotorp massage is all about knowing how to breathe: what organs to use and how to use them! The massage technique was developed from classical Swedish Massage but with a concentration on treating the muscular system of the breathing organs. By treating, for instance, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, the flexibility of the rib cage increases and the result is a deeper and more efficient breathing.
When we breathe, we use a vast number of muscles located in the chest, back and abdominal region, and these muscles have to cooperate to create a complete in-and-out breath. If they don’t, however, we breathe high, shallow and fast (as opposed to having a natural deep and low breathing), which leads to stiffness of the breathing muscles.
According to the developer of the Lotorp Method, it is first and foremost the exhalation that is affected by the high and fast breathing, and when we don’t exhale properly, the lungs are not fully emptied of old air, i.e. carbon dioxide, and the result will be a low oxygen level in the lungs.
Usually, three to four sessions with this treatment is all that is needed to reduce your breathing problems. Personally, I had three sessions during a four-month period, and already after the first session I was able to go for a winter walk and actually breathe (instead of pausing to take extra breaths every now and again, which I had started to do instead of using my medicine)!
Due to seeing these fast results, I got even more determined to work on the exercises given to me and continue with the massage. Each session lasted between two and three hours, and I’m not gonna lie — it is pure torture! The therapist is massaging the muscles between the ribs and press points in the chest to stimulate the breathing organs and to get rid of the phlegm that is stuck in the lungs. And, yeah, it hurts but it is worth every second of pain to be able to breathe anew!
The massage therapist also gives you a couple of easy exercises to practice in between sessions, in addition, to encourage you to spit out the phlegm that wants to come out, as a result of learning how to exhale properly. All persons suffering from respiratory problems or breathing problems caused by chemicals and the like will gain from this treatment, which is a way to help the body back to its natural state without using any kind of medication. I have not once used my asthma inhaler since that first session. It was four and a half years ago.
2. (Jala) Neti
Jala Neti belongs to one of the six groups of Hatha Yoga cleansing techniques. It is a nasal cleansing method using warm salty water through the nose, that has been used by yogis for thousands of years for both physical and spiritual needs. Today, worldwide, it is a well-known aid when wanting to reduce allergy problems, colds and the like. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! Ask your Yoga teacher how it is done, or find instructions online.
I had heard of—and been considering—nose rinsing to reduce allergy problems, but it wasn’t until I partook in a one-week Yoga course in 2010 that I was properly introduced to the Neti technique. We started our days at 6 am, barefoot in the green summer grass, rinsing our noses with warm salty water. Already that first Monday morning made me understand the healing magic of Neti, even though I struggled a lot. Oh yes, I struggled! Both of my nostrils were completely clogged, and I had to be patient when carefully pouring the water, determined to at least finish one Neti pot (about a quarter liter) in between the two!
Today, I do at least one half liter per nostril, but that was not possible at the time. As the days passed, it got easier and easier to rinse the nostrils.
Both the Neti technique and the daily Yoga had made all of my breathing channels and muscles more open and helped in reducing old air that clogged my energy flow and nadis. After that Yoga week, I decided to continue with Neti everyday and did so for the entire three months of summer. I kept my daily morning Yoga sadhana, and of course I can’t live without it today, whilst the Neti is rather something I do either when I feel the need to or—as was the case in the first year and a half—do short intensive periods to cleanse out, for example, before heavy allergy periods (i.e. springtime). Nowadays, I carry the Neti pot with me everywhere I go in the world because it not only helps me reduce allergy and clogged nostrils, it also wakes me up when feeling heavy and tired and I want to clear the mind.
In addition, it is an enjoyable feature I like to add to my regular cleanses every now and again.
3. Yoga (and Pranayama)
I fully gave my body, mind, soul and life to the great mistress called Yoga already after that week of intensive practice. I am dedicated to follow the yogic path, honor the practice and its teachers for the entire time I have on this beautiful Earth. I fully understand, however, that that is not the case with every human being. If you are suffering or somehow experience that your life is weighed down by your allergies or any respiratory problems, I truly recommend adding some Yoga postures and breathing techniques to your life. It can be as simple as a few stretching exercises when getting up in the morning; sitting on the side of the bed and breathing in while opening your arms and expanding the chest, and then breathing out entirely while contracting the upper body/chest in a hug-like gesture.
What you aim at is opening the chest and breathing organs, giving the air more space to move instead of getting stuck inside your body on its way out, creating phlegm that irritates your breathing. I recommend visiting a Yoga teacher to fully learn how to use the breathing organs and what are some good and basic exercises to do to expand the chest, rib cage and back.
In addition, various Pranayama techniques are helpful to further expand and relax the breathing organs, calm the body and mind and get to know your breathing and how it is actually done. Below is a video of Sharath Jois explaining a Pranayama technique and what it is for.
Looking around, I see that many people seem to have forgotten how to fully breathe.
Or maybe they grew up never even knowing. I say: reclaim your breath! You have the power to do so; don’t let Babylon tell you otherwise! You don’t need drugs to breathe. What drugs really do is make it worse by disguising the symptoms while pressing down the phlegm together with more dust and poison and air pollution into your breathing organs! You are a perfect human being, shaped and created by Mother Nature, meant to enjoy her gifts on this planet; follow her advice and you will be healed once more.
I have not once, since I started my Yoga practice, taken a single allergy pill.
The combination of these three healing arts is pure magic and will reduce (and dare I say, eliminate) your problems. I wish you the best of luck, now go out there and reclaim your breath, your life and your right to enjoy the aromas of Mother Earth!
Listen to this podcast from The Green Divas Health & Beauty, about another unique way to fight allergies….
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