How Long Covid sufferers are learning breathing techniques used by opera singers to recover

Most of us breathe too much, or at least don’t breathe the right way.

That’s what I took away from meeting the incredible people involved in Breathe, a programme run by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the English National Opera (ENO).

Their pilot project involving 12 people with Long Covid has been judged such a success it is being rolled out nationally.

In essence it teaches those who have not fully recovered from Covid to use the same breathing techniques that the singers of ENO employ to hit such staggering notes.

Opera singers are experts in the use of breath to make sound, not just using the top part of the lungs as most of us do, but learning how to breathe deeply.

Breathlessness is one of the symptoms reported by those with Long Covid.

Breathlessness is one of the symptoms reported by those with Long Covid, and this often leads to anxiety.

The specific training offered to those on the pilot scheme focussed on breathing retraining through singing lullabies, using the techniques an opera singer does.

The pandemic has meant that English National Opera like many arts organisations, has been unable to perform as usual.

Instead they have been looking at ways they can do their bit, at first getting their costume department to make medical scrubs for the NHS, and then after talks with GPs, offering their services to those trying to work out ways of helping Long Covid patients.

Now 1,000 more patients will be offered the scheme, and organisations abroad are looking with interest.

Dealing with a new disease has called for new ways to approach it.