Asthma: The power of yoga practitioners to affect the body and mind is sometimes overwhelming. There is probably no such painful condition that yogic practices cannot alleviate. In a situation with bronchial asthma, yoga can also significantly improve well-being and quality of life. Ayurvedic doctor, neurologist, yoga teacher Rammohan Rao believes that yoga has many tools to solve these problems.
With the arrival of spring, more and more people are faced with seasonal allergies or asthma. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance – a trigger (irritant / provocateur) – as an “invader”.
Last Updated: October 3, 2022 (A few hours ago…)
Triggers can be:
- external stimuli (pollen, leaves, flowers);
- indoor substances (dust, mold, mites, dandruff);
- some medicines;
- nutritional supplements;
- pollutants (smoke, chemicals and strong odors).
In an attempt to protect the body from any of these “foreign substances” (also called allergens), the immune system releases many protective particles that attack the allergens in order to destroy them.
Allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rash reactions are a consequence of this battle. This is called the “inflammatory response”. For some people, this inflammatory response can affect the lungs and sinuses, leading to asthma symptoms.
What is asthma
Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by shortness of breath. This condition is associated with inflammation of the airways, which makes it difficult for air to move into and out of the lungs, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and / or tightness in the chest.
There are types of asthma that are not caused by allergies, but by stress, illness, extreme weather, or certain medications. People with hereditary allergies are more likely to develop asthma. The pollination season, characterized by a high concentration of pollen particles in the air, affects the respiratory system of susceptible people and causes an asthmatic reaction. An allergist-immunologist diagnoses and identifies potential triggers to develop a treatment plan.
Although there is no cure for bronchial asthma, the condition can be managed. In the United States alone, nearly 14 million people see a doctor every year for asthma. The researchers estimate that the costs associated with asthma (health care plus indirect costs such as reduced productivity) are around $ 60 billion a year.
Since prevention is the best strategy, the asthma patient should know what is causing the attack and avoid it if possible. Doctors also recommend that asthmatics develop their own individual treatment plans. Many people with this condition do well and live healthy and productive lives while avoiding exposure to allergens.
Exacerbations of bronchial asthma can be controlled by steroids, bronchodilators, and mast cell membrane stabilizers, although long-term use of these drugs carries the risk of side effects.
One of the main recommendations is that you should exercise regularly to improve the performance of the lungs and increase their volume. Many people with asthma turn to the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayamas (breathing techniques) to help relieve their symptoms.
Can Yoga Practice Ease Asthma Symptoms
There are conflicting reports of yoga practice to relieve asthma symptoms 1 . While this may be related to the severity of the disease in patients, some researchers have noted a significant improvement in the quality of life among yoga practitioners compared to non-yoga practitioners.2.
Most scientific studies have used specific yoga postures (asanas) and full yoga breathing to stimulate and strengthen the respiratory system.
Yoga for asthma: a set of exercises
The asanas that were commonly included in some of these studies on the effects of yoga on asthma were as follows:
- Uttanasana ( Forward Bend Intense Stretch Pose),
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Building Pose),
- Adho Mukha Svanasana ( Downward Dog Pose),
- Purvottanasana (Pose of intense traction of the entire front surface of the body),
- Salamba Matsiasana (Fish Pose with Support),
- Supta Virasana (Lying Hero Pose),
- and at the end of the gentle practice of Nadi Shodhana pranayama (alternative nasal breathing).
Bending and bending helps to expand the chest and improve the health of the heart and lungs. Deflections and positions where the chest opens help with inhalation, and forward bends help with exhalation.
Similar to asana practice, pranayama can also lead to an overall increase in the strength of the respiratory muscles that facilitate inhalation and exhalation, including the main respiratory muscle, the diaphragm. Stretching the muscles in the chest area, along with breathing exercises that lengthen inhalation and exhalation, can increase lung capacity.
If you have bronchial asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), if your doctor does not consider it safe to deepen your yoga practice, simply focus on supportive postures, light breathing practices, and slow, gentle dynamic postures such as Marjariasana / Bitilasana (Cat Pose / Cow Pose ).
Yoga practice to release the breath
When you’re ready to deepen your practice, try gentle, vigorous asana practice as it can provide you with important benefits: less shortness of breath, better exercise tolerance, and better sleep. To help achieve comfort and maximum efficiency, it is recommended that suitable props (auxiliary objects) be used when performing some of these asanas.
Leaning back (supine) postures can make breathing difficult for someone with lung disease, so try supporting your torso and head with props in such cases. When bending over, look for more room for your belly, for example by spreading your knees. If these devices do not make your breathing easier, skip these positions and practice meditation or breathing while sitting.
- If you suddenly catch your breath, stop any yoga practice you do. Sit with some kind of supportive support in a chair or against a wall and wait for all symptoms to subside. If symptoms persist, see a doctor immediately.
- If you are healthy, exercise up to six days a week, alternating days of vigorous practice with days of gentle and restorative practice.
- If you currently have asthma or other breathing problems, try practicing four days a week, alternating between active and recovery days.
- If you see positive changes, slowly increase the number of days of practice.
So if you have any kind of allergy or asthma and want to practice yoga, explore the possibilities of a consistent and safe yoga practice!
Dr. Rammohan Rao is a PhD in Neuroscience and a former Research Fellow at the Baka Institute in Aging Research. He graduated from the California College of Ayurveda, becoming a specialist in clinical Ayurveda. Yoga Teacher Yoga Alliance.
We draw your attention to the fact that it is advisable to eliminate any problematic at three levels: physical, energetic and spiritual. The recommendations contained in the article are not a guarantee of recovery. The information provided should be considered as capable of helping, based on the experience of yoga practitioners, traditional and modern medicine, the multifaceted action of herbal remedies, but not as a guarantee.