|Yoga for asthma
Avoid attacks with exercise
You can take the fright out of an asthma attack with a remedy that's as
old as the hills. Yoga, which means "united" or "joined together," is
actually several disciplines united to make body and mind work in harmony.
Since its introduction to the Western world, yoga has become more
user-friendly to Americans and Europeans. It's even being touted to relieve
symptoms of chronic health problems, like asthma. This is great news since
the World Health Organization estimates asthma afflicts more than 100
million people worldwide.
How it works
Yoga may be the ideal workout for
people with asthma. Many asthmatics avoid exercise because of the fear of
suffering an attack. But the slow, controlled movements and deep breathing
of yoga promotes relaxation while relieving stiffness and limbering up the
The breathing exercises that are essential to this exercise program not
only open up the lungs but may possibly reduce the inflammation that occurs
Some researchers also think the relaxation/meditation aspect of yoga
could help asthmatics by regulating breathing patterns and improving lung
function. Easing your symptoms through yoga is one positive way to help
manage your condition.
Science meets yoga
Researchers are still looking for
answers. In one long-term study, 106 people with asthma were divided into
One group practiced yoga breathing techniques, while the other group
served as the control. Researchers discovered that the people practicing
yoga required less asthma medication and suffered fewer asthma attacks
during the study.
Another trial tested a yoga meditation technique called Sahaja.
Participants sought to reach a state of "mental silence." They were alert
and aware but free of any unnecessary mental activity.
Researchers found that the people using Sahaja also succeeded in reducing
their asthma medication. During the four-month test period, the average
number of acute attacks for meditators was 5.8, compared to 12.9 for the
Get out of your rut
People with asthma who hesitate
to exercise, whose shoulders are stooped from shallow breathing, and whose
general health and outlook on life have been suffocated by asthma could
benefit from yoga.
It typically involves three aspects. They often overlap and complement
• Hatha yoga -- gradual, gentle
movements and poses called asanas. Hatha yoga strengthens and invigorates
your body and lungs.
• Pranayama -- the exercise of
controlled breathing. Prana means "breath of life."
• Meditation -- exercise for the
will. Meditation helps you get a handle on stress and worry and regain a
hopeful outlook about your health.
If you decide to practice yoga, find a reputable instructor because doing
the techniques improperly may result in injury.
To find a yoga instructor in your area, contact your local recreation
department, YMCA, or fitness center.
While yoga won't eliminate your asthma, it might help you control your
symptoms. Talk with your doctor about using it as a complement to