Related stories:

1. Yoga Helps Asthma: Yoga techniques can relieve health problems including asthma.

2. Executive Director of the Sorvino Asthma Foundation, Charles Ursitti,
tells of his life and death-changing experience.

The New Sun

Paul Sorvino has performed in such classics as Goodfellas, That Championship Season, Law and Order, and Bulworth. At the beginning of his career, Paul was in serious trouble because of his asthma. He doubted he could continue his stage work, due to severe breathing difficulties.

Fortunately, two of his fellow actors showed him a special yoga breathing technique that changed his life. Asthma-free since then, Mr. Sorvino now runs The Paul Sorvino Asthma Foundation.

This poster announces one of their fundraising efforts, an annual celebrity pool tournament.

Lese Dunton: You have a training program conducted by your Foundation?

Paul Sorvino: Yes, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, I just trained six therapists, breathing instructors.

LD: They then use it in their practice?

PS: Yeah, that's the idea. They're going to get it instituted in Allied Health Services in Scranton. It's just spreading the word further and further.

LD: In terms of spreading the word, what are some of the things you do? How do you get the "How To Be A Former Asthmatic" video distributed?

PS: Let's say I do interviews on t.v. or in print, and we give the number. People call the Foundation and order the video, and give a little bit of money. We don't make much that way. The little bit of money we take in that way goes to continuing the Breath of Life Program in the schools. Charlie Ursitti, the Executive Director, went to Las Vegas to do a zoning fight, trying to get the first free walk-in center established there. We're trying to branch out as much as we can.

LD: The Breath of Life Program, that's sort of a teaching presentation that you are available to give?

PS: It's a program working with the children in the schools. It was instituted by Dr. Richard Firshein, the medical director of the Foundation, a doctor specializing in preventative medicine, nutrition. He's written two books, one called Reversing Asthma, in which he uses the exercise, and another called, The Neutraceutical Revolution.

LD: What are your goals and plans for the future?

PS: Well, the idea is we're going to try get this word out there. It's not like we're selling a product because we're not selling anything. In a way, we're trying to give it away. Right now, we have no salaried employees and so it's all volunteer. I'm a volunteer, Charlie Ursitti is a volunteer, and Dr. Firshein is a volunteer. Here and there we have people helping us. We're kind of a guerrilla group.

LD: I think it's great.

PS: In Che Guerva! We just got something good in Las Vegas. The Merck company has endorsed the program after having seen the video, and having heard about it. They haven't given us any money, but what they're doing is recommending it to all their employees who have asthma, or who have children who have asthma, to go to us to learn how to do it.

LD: That's really good.

PS: My estimation is that about eighty percent of people get rid of their asthma symptoms and prevent attacks. We've had sixty-two percent improvement in school attendance with kids who are already on steroids. That's never happened in the history of the world before.

LD: You do such great work with children. It would seem to me that children embrace it faster because it's so simple, whereas adults say, "How could it work if it's so simple?"

PS: Yeah, people do that. There's a lot of resistance, for some God-known reason. People would rather spend thousands of dollars, and carry machines and all that. None of that is necessary, except on an emergency basis. When we show people how to do this, if they do the exercises, they don't get the attacks any more.

LD: Yeah, it's funny, adults can be like that. If it's too simple and it works...

PS: Twenty percent of the people want their asthma. Psychologically speaking, it affords them a certain comfort, which is bizarre, but that's human nature.

LD: I remember in your video you use the expression, "You're the boss of your breathing" and I think that's a great thing, especially for children because they feel so unempowered when they can't breathe.

PS: Children have no autonomy anyway, so...we're doing it the schools, five schools now, I think. We're just trying to spread it all over the world. That's all we want to do. It's just one of those things. It's not as easy as the Heimlich Maneuver, but in principal it's as effective.

LD: Do you know the history of the method?

PS: It's Yoga.

LD: It just happened to be a Yoga breathing exercise and then somebody came upon the idea that it would work for asthma?

PS: It was a Yoga Breathing Exercise for the alleviation of asthma, to my knowledge. It was taught to me by two actors who were Yoga practitioners, 35 years ago. I did it and I was cured of my asthma in one day. I had had it 15 years. And I've done lots of dramatic things like that with children and adults since then.

It's dramatic, it's wonderful, but unfortunately, it's vastly underused. I don't know what else to do. I mean, I've been on national television, and I've worked with Dr. Ian Smith, and helped him relieve his asthma. I've had that kind of publicity but it just doesn't accumulate for some reason. I don't know why. I suppose if I was a doctor it would make things easier, but knowledge is knowledge. It was given to me and I'm trying to give it to everyone else. I've worked with thousands of asthmatics over the last 35 years and I've been successful about eighty percent of the time. If doctors want to do studies, I'll go in and I'll work with them.

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For more information or to order the video, "How To Become a Former Asthmatic," call 212-941-8686.

Related stories:

1. Yoga Helps Asthma: Yoga techniques can relieve health problems including asthma.

2. Executive Director of the Sorvino Asthma Foundation, Charles Ursitti, tells of his life and death-changing experience.