Yoga and Asthma
Breathe easy with Yoga
Exercising asthma is recommended but people with asthma can find some forms of physical exercises may trigger their asthma. This is why yoga is catching on among people with asthma!! With so much emphasis on the breath, it seems logical that a regular yogic practice would have benefits for people who have problems with their airways
The science behind it
Incorrect breathing may also lead to asthma. Many athletes also suffer from asthma, and this strongly suggests that breathing too much and/or too violently may irritate the airways and possibly alter the brain’s breathing center, causing asthma.
Asthma is due to a hypersensitivity of the bronchi and bronchioles of the lungs, which swell and secrete extra mucus narrowing the air passage into the lungs. In a lot of cases, yogic breathing techniques can help slow this down.
A number of scientific studies have shown that yoga and pranayama (yogic breathing) in particular have a positive effect on patients suffering from asthma. Even breathing exercises in their simple form with a 1:2 ratio i.e. an exhalation that is twice as long as the inhalation, have been shown to produce a beneficial effect.
I remember watching the movie La mer bleue years ago. The movie is about a freediver who could retain his breath for unusually long periods of time. I was fascinated by the use of yoga breathing and wondered if it could benefit people with breathing problems like asthma. I knew the movie was based on a true story so did my research and found a lot of medical research like Peter Wurschy, a Dutch freediver and champion in distance diving who suffered severe chronic asthma for years but today is completely free of symptoms. To read more about his experience go to Being an asthma sufferer myself I decided to give this practice a try. I began to practice every night for 10 minutes and within six months I was delighted that I no longer required my inhaler. However, I would never suggest anyone on medication for asthma discard their medication.
Benefits of Yoga Breathing for Asthma
Improved breath capacity
The breathing practices in yoga will help your breathing slow down and you will be better able control your breathing. People with asthma tend to hold their breath for longer trying to get more oxygen out of the air that they have inhaled. This can just aggravate the condition. When you learn pranayama you are more able to take breaths into the bottom and middle of the lungs which helps you in getting used to taking deep and more relaxed breaths in daily life.
Help Asthma attacks with Yoga
The severity of an asthma attack, if and when it happens, can be significantly reduced if you have been practicing Yoga. Although I would never make the mistake of ignoring asthma medication, Yoga can help to calm and de-stress your body and prevent the severe impact of an asthma attack. If you get an asthma attack, the practice of slow breathing would help you survive the complication posed by constricted airways much better.
Yoga breathing and postures for Asthma
These not only help in calming down the stressed muscles in your chest and shoulders so that you can breathe more effortlessly but they also help to clear energy blocks and improve your energy levels. Backbends are known to stretch and open the chest and ribcage area and will improve your ability to breath deeply and at ease. Inverted postures help to deplete the build-up of mucus from your lungs.
Pranayama Abdominal Breathing Technique
Lying down, place your palms fingertips touching lightly on your belly and begin to slowly breathe through your nose. As you inhale, feel your belly rising, pause briefly then exhale, feel your belly fall and pause briefly. Try to breathe as slowly as possible without force. and then fully let it relax as you breathe. You should notice your fingers parting as your belly rises and touching at the end of the exhalation. Do this for 5 minutes. It’s a wonderful practice to calm your mind anytime and before sleep, at night if you’re finding it difficult to switch off your mind.
More Benefits of Pranayama
Proper breathing improves the amount of oxygen you take into your body which helps improve your overall well-being.
Pranayama brings deeper advantages than the simple involuntary result of exercising the lungs. Both these complications put undue pressure on the heart and lungs. Including breathing practices in your daily life will also lessen the strains on your heart and lungs.
Breathing into the lungs correctly massages the internal organs which result in their function and in particular improves the digestion.
Relaxes your body and mind.
Pranayama supports the parasympathetic nervous system of the body. The practice of yoga increases your ability to absorb oxygen by your body. A functional advantage of yoga is having control over your nervous reflexes.