Breathing, an organ recital without sound

| April 24, 2013

By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.

Usually, at the conclusion of a wonderful sermon at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, N.Y., the organist plays the most beautiful organ music that can satisfy the hungry soul. The organist delivers these electrifying sounds from air being pumped through many pipes of different lengths, which are sounded by compressed air blown by billows and played by keys.

In comparison, the lungs, which are also organs, release compressed air through hundreds of small tubes known as bronchi and also deliver a breath that is soundless. This can also be an organ recital. If the bronchi are congested with mucus, however, or are constricted, the sounds released from the bronchi can be altered and very unmusical.

Many conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), can contribute to breathlessness. In most cases, this is due to the lungs that cannot expand to their full capacity. In this case, for the lungs to perform properly, they might need to be exercised.

A few years ago, I met a respiratory therapist, namely, Betsy Thomason (BA,RRT), who introduced me to a lung exercise known as “BreathPlay,” This exercise retrains lungs that have been injured to regain their optimum performance. Many folks with chronic lung disease have been helped with this method. Like all organs, exercise is the basis for their well-being, including the heart. Thirty minutes daily, five times weekly will keep a heart healthy.

BreathPlay has assisted even Olympic cyclists to perform at their peak level. Swimmers also, have improved with this method. More importantly however, folks who have been given up as breath invalids, have regained a new quality of life.

Simply, BreathPlay involves the entire body. The belly is used like a bellows to squeeze the guts up against the diaphragm while pursing the lips and allowing air to be expelled. In other words, while sitting comfortably, air is inhaled while the belly is extended and then exhaled while contracting the abdomen as if a button is put over the navel and an invisible string is pulling the navel toward the backbone.

To better understand this method of BreathPlay, I suggest that you contact Betsy Thomason at (201) 930-0557, or P.O. Box 515, Montvale, New Jersey, 07645.

To review BreathPlay on the Internet, visit

I am sure that all of you who may be having a poor organ recital will be singing a happy tune and dancing without being breathless.

For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals, visit .


This article originally appeared in our April 24, 2013 issue.

Category: Health

About the Author ()

Gerald W. Deas, MD, MPH, MA is a physician, poet, patient advocate, playwright, media personality, political activist and public health crusader. Read his full bio at

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