Of the many natural remedies that can be used to minimize asthma symptoms, you may never have imagined that yoga would be among them.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease in which the airways become narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus. This leads to breathing difficulties and triggers symptoms like coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.
About 25 million Americans (both children and adults) suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1).
The severity of asthma symptoms ranges from minor to serious and even life-threatening. They vary from person to person.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. However, there are many effective treatments that can reduce asthma symptoms and improve your quality of life. When it comes to alternate treatments, yoga is very effective.
Breathing and yoga go hand in hand. So, it stands to reason that many yoga poses can help cure breathing difficulty caused by asthma. Several studies have proven yoga’s effectiveness.
A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Yoga reports that breathing exercises (pranayama), mainly expiratory exercises, help improve lung functioning and should be a regular part of asthma treatment (2).
A 2010 study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science reports that yoga exercise among asthmatic patients resulted in a reduced number of day and night attacks as well as the use of drugs. It also showed significant improvement in the peak expiratory flow rate. Further large-scale study is recommended (3).
In addition, a 2016 study published in the Cochrane Library suggests that yoga may have a beneficial effect on symptoms and quality of life in people with asthma, but the effects on lung functioning and medication use are uncertain (4).
It is obvious that yoga can help a lot when you suffer from asthma. Moreover, yoga is a form of exercise only and there is no harm in trying it.
Here are some of the yoga poses you can do for asthma relief.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This simple yoga pose is best suited for meditation for both beginners and advanced practitioners. This relaxing pose provides natural asthma relief, as the focus is on breathing and stress control. It also aids in improving lung functioning.
- Sit up straight with your feet stretched out in front of you.
- Cross your legs, keeping your knees wide, shins crossed and each foot placed under the corresponding knee.
- Keep your feet relaxed, allowing the outer edges of your feet to rest on the floor. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position.
- Place your palms stacked up in your lap.
- Elongate your tailbone, and firm up your shoulders.
- Now, take deep breaths for as long as you are comfortable.
For best results, practice this yoga pose in the morning but not necessarily on an empty stomach.
2. Bridge Pose (Sethu Bandhasana)
This yoga pose is beautiful to look at, as it forms a bridge-like structure. It’s also very effective for asthma patients by helping to open up the chest and lungs. It also keeps a check on your thyroid gland and improves digestion.
- Lie flat on your back, with your arms parallel to your body and your palms facing down.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
- Inhale and raise your hips off the floor, pressing your feet firmly on the floor.
- Slowly raise your upper body along with your hips, shifting your weight to your shoulders.
- Hold the position for 5 to 8 deep breaths.
- Exhale as you gently lower your spine to the ground.
- Take a few deep breaths before standing up.
3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This is an energizing backbend pose that is very effective for asthma patients. This pose is a part of the sequence of yoga postures in Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation.
It helps ease asthma symptoms by improving oxygen and blood circulation throughout the body, including your chest and lungs. It also helps open up the lungs and aids them in functioning properly.
- Lie down on your stomach and keep your legs stretched out.
- Place your palms underneath your shoulders, keeping your elbows folded upward.
- Your chin and all your toes should be touching the floor.
- Inhale and slowly raise your chest up, bending backward without using your arm strength.
- Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Exhale and slowly return to the starting position.
- Relax and take a few deep breaths.
- Repeat this at least 5 times, relaxing for 15 seconds between each round.
4. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This is another very relaxing yoga pose that will stretch your body and bring asthma relief.
It also stimulates the heart and improves circulation in the entire body, including the lungs. It is also is an excellent pose to get rid of fatigue.
- Sit up straight with your legs spread straight out and your back straight.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet inward.
- Place the soles of your feet together, about 6 inches away from your pelvis.
- Hold your feet tightly with your hands.
- Inhale deeply, pressing the thighs and knees down toward the floor.
- Taking normal breaths, start flapping both legs up and down.
- Start slowly and gradually increase the speed, continuing for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Slow down and then stop.
- Take a few long, deep breaths and slowly straighten your legs out in front of you.
5. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Use this pose to end your yoga session. It is recommended for asthma relief because of the breath and stress management it provides.
This pose brings the body into a meditative state, rejuvenates you and helps reduce anxiety and stress. A calm and relaxed body is one of the keys to preventing asthma attacks.
- Lie down on your back, stretching your legs out in front of you.
- Place your arms alongside your body, palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Breathe slowing, making each breath deep and rhythmic.
- Focus on your breathing while staying in this position for at least 10 minutes.
- To come out, roll over to one side and slowly rise into a sitting position.
Some other yoga poses suitable for asthma patients are:
- Seated Wide Angle Pose (Upavistha Konasana)
- Sitting Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
- Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
- Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
- Staff Pose (Dandasana)
- Alternate nostril breathing technique (Nadi Shodhan pranayama)
- Skull-shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama)