Yoga and Asthma Just imagine that it’s the middle of the night and you suddenly wake up feeling uneasy. You are unable to catch your breath and getting suffocated. The whole world seems to be closing in around your throat and chest. The urgency to breathe is making you panic. Do you realize what is happening to you? You’re having an asthma attack! Asthma comes from the Greek word for “panting”. Asthma is primarily a disease of the respiratory system, where there is a wheezing cough and a sense of suffocation, since the patient has difficulties in inhaling rather than exhaling the air. Asthmatic attacks can be triggered by allergies, exercise, cold air, pollution and stress related disorders. The attack of asthma may last for a few minutes, few hours or even days wherein the patient is exhausted. It is common to all ages, children and adolescents of both sexes, irrespective of socio-economic background. Asthma and Bronchitis are two chronic lung ailments that can cause damage to the lungs. These should be treated immediately to avoid any complications. Several studies have shown yoga to be a powerful adjunct therapy to reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks as well as to decrease medication use. Tests carried out at Yoga Therapy Centers, across the world, have shown remarkable results in curing asthma. In some cases it has also been found that attacks can actually be averted, without the aid of drugs, just through yogic practices. There is ample research evidence to substantiate the fact that Yoga Therapy makes the treatment so much more successful. Nowadays, even al
lopathic and homeopathic doctors have arrived at the consensus that Yoga is an excellent alternative therapy for Asthma. In an experiment conducted in Western Australia, 22 male patients aged 52 to 65 were selected. They suffered from severe breathing. Half of the men underwent standard treatment: physiotherapy that included relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and general workouts to improve stamina. The other 11 men were given a yoga teacher instead of a physiotherapist. He taught them techniques of yoga breathing, which encouraged the use of all chest and abdominal muscles as well as ten yoga postures. The patients practiced their particular exercises for nine months. Then they were reexamined at the hospital: a technician tested their lung function, a physician screened them closely to determine how their symptoms had changed, and a stationary exercise bicycle was used to measure their capacity for exercise. The difference between the two groups was striking. The men who had practiced yoga showed a significant improvement in their ability to exercise, but the physiotherapy group did not. Eight or more out of the 11 patients who underwent yoga declared that they had definitely increased tolerance for exertion and that they recovered more quickly after exertion. The physiotherapy group reported no similar improvement. Best of all, the patients who had studied yoga apparently gained the ability to control their breathing problems. A significantly greater number of patients reported that “with the help of yogic breathing exercises, they could control an attack of severe shortness of breath without having to seek medical help,” according to the study. Studies conducted at yoga institutions in India reported impressive success in improving asthma. For example, one study of 114 patients treated over one year by yoga found a 76 percent rate of improvement or cure and that asthma attacks could usually be prevented by yoga methods without resorting to drugs. A study of 46 adolescents with asthma found that yoga practice resulted in a significant increase in pulmonary function and exercise capacity and led to fewer symptoms and medications. Patients were given daily training in yoga for 90 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening for 40 days. Apart from this, several other studies have also shown yoga as an alternate therapy to cure asthma. Yoga has come a long way to heal and manage asthma. The yoga approach is ideal in the treatment of asthma and any bronchial problems as the breath is the thread that runs through the entire practice. Since Yoga believes that the mind is central to a diseased condition, pacifying and placating it would, in itself, help cure the disease to a great extent. This comes through increased self-awareness. Simple Yogic practices help regulate breathing patterns, as well as enhance lung functioning. Consistent practice of yoga postures and pranayama (breathing exercises) increases the lung’s airflow, air capacity, stamina and efficiency. Back bending postures open the chest improving the functioning of both lung and heart. Result: Most patients are able to manage their condition by simply allaying their fears and anxieties. So if you are looking for therapeutic drug-free methods of Asthma control naturally and effectively, take a look into Yoga. It won’t hurt, in fact, help you out a lot.