Yoga to Relieve Your Asthma: The Definitive Guide
By Lubna Sheikh on 25th May 2019
If you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ve probably been instructed to focus on your breath.
With so much emphasis on inhaling and exhaling, it would seem logical that a regular yoga practice would have benefits for people who have problems with their airways.
For years, researchers have been trying to understand if there are benefits of yoga for asthma.
A recent roundup of these studies shows promising evidence that the practice might bring some relief.
Do you believe yoga is all huffing and puffing while you struggle to perform uncomfortable postures?
Yoga is a blend of breathing techniques and postures that work together to heal your body from within and strengthen it from the outside.
Sure you’ve heard of the downward dog, and you’ve even considered a hot yoga class to rev up the calorie burn.
But, as an asthma sufferer, you might’ve never considered partaking in a yoga class to help you relieve the symptoms you suffer from.
Good news is you can, and you’ll notice a great deal of difference in the way you breathe when you start taking yoga as an allergy relief treatment option seriously.
Yoga is so beneficial for people with asthma that’s it’s also recommended by NHS England.
Many asthma sufferers find it particularly difficult to partake in different exercises, given their difficulties in breathing.
Therefore, yoga is a perfect way to increase cardiovascular strength, move, and notice an immediate difference in the way you’re breathing, in no time at all.
The slower pace movements, and stress-relief benefits alone, should be enough to sell you on the idea.
Why Yoga for Asthma?
When you think of yoga, one of the first things that come to mind is relaxation and breathing techniques. So, the two should go hand-in-hand, right?
Treating respiratory disease is possible by training your body how to breathe properly and how to focus on deep breathing techniques. With yoga, you’ll get the physical benefits of movement without the intensity.
Is There a Right (and Wrong) Way to Do Yoga?
The short answer is no. However, when it comes to targeting yoga as a treatment mechanism for asthma, the answer is yes.
There are certain positions you’re going to want to focus on, which will target the asthma side effects you suffer from.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how the different forms and poses work, how they’re beneficial, and which ones are going to target the exact forms of relief you seek, as an asthma sufferer.
So, which techniques or poses are the best for you to do when treating your asthmatic condition? Consider a few of these.
1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
This pose is often referred to as the “easy” pose. In a seated position you’re going to focus on meditation and deep breathing as a treatment mechanism for your asthma.
This seated position, with your feet crossed in front of you, is a beginner pose in Visayan yoga.
You’re focusing on deep breathing techniques which are intended to help improve asthma and lung functions.
When performing the pose, you should sit in the position for as long as possible, without feeling cramped or pain. This pose focuses on deep breathing and focal breathing to control stress levels.
By broadening the chest and relaxing the brain, you’re going to feel a sense of calm and peace when seated in this position.
You’ll learn how to focus on decreasing instances where your asthmatic condition is triggered.
2. Forward Bend Pose
Just as the name implies, in this yoga pose, you are going to stand facing forward, bending at your hips towards the ground, with your hands reaching towards the ground. This pose is specific to asthma relief in that it focuses on opening the lungs, so you can take deeper breaths.
Putting a little bend in the knees will help to reduce stress on the lower spine and minimize pain.
Let your body hang and relax completely when performing this pose. You’ll want to take anywhere between five to ten deep breaths when you’re in the bent forward position.
This will allow you to greatly expand lung capacity over time.
3. Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Angle Pose)
This pose is also referred to as the seated angle pose. Practitioners will sit on the floor with their legs spread in front of them as wide as possible.
You will want to hold the pose for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds and bend forward a bit, to focus on improving breathing techniques in the seated position. It should also be done on an empty stomach if possible, to reap the greatest benefits of doing this pose.
This pose focuses on stretching out the upper body and opening the lungs, so you can expand lung capacity over time. It helps you engage your lungs and improve breathing patterns, it is also meant to help you de-stress, which is a natural remedy for asthma sufferers to control their breathing.
Holding this pose is also going to benefit you in other ways. It is going to help increase dexterity and flexibility over time, so you’re going to feel more limber, and it’ll be a little easier for you to move around.
This pose is another one which is highly recommended for asthma sufferers, given that it focuses on stress relief and proper deep breathing techniques. Both of which are necessary to help you control an asthmatic attack when it strikes.
In this position, you’ll lay on your back with your feet and palms in an open position. You’re going to relax the jaw and muscles; you’ll want to hold this pose for 5 to 10 minutes at a time and keep your eyes closed during the process.
5. The Butterfly
It’s a pose you are familiar with from a young age; you probably did it in physical education classes as a stretching technique when you were younger.
Sitting on the floor, you’ll bend your knees in front of your body and pull them in towards your body. You’ll mimic the wings of a butterfly flapping with your knees when you’re in this seated position.
This pose is meant to help increase relaxation and it can also help increase mobility. By relaxing and de-stressing, asthma sufferers are going to feel more at ease, which is naturally going to help them avoid asthmatic attacks.
When seated in the position, you’ll want to take in deep inhales through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. You can press your elbows down to your knees to help keep them in place. When seated, focus on doing five to ten deep breaths at a time.
The slower, and more intense your breathing, the more it is going to help you improve your regular breathing patterns as an asthma sufferer.
6. Straddled Splits
A straddled split is another common yoga pose that will help increase breathing and lung capacity over time. In this position, you’ll sit on the floor with your feet spread as wide as possible.
You’ll move your hands forward, in between your feet, and bend forward facing the ground.
By stretching the upper body, this pose helps open the lungs. You’ll want to exhale through your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose.
The longer and deeper you can hold your breath the more beneficial it is for treating asthmatic conditions. If nothing else you’ll get a great stretch in for your quads and lower body.
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This pose is commonly referred to as the snake/cobra pose. You’re basically going to sit in a position which mimics a raised backbend. Laying on your stomach you’ll lift your upper body up on your hands, and hold the bent position facing forward.
You should perform this on an empty stomach and should hold the pose for a minimum of 30 to 60 seconds at a time. The position is meant to open lung capacity and clears the passages for breathing in your lungs.
It will also help increase flexibility and can help in treating pain in the lower back.
8. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist)
The Ardha pose, or sitting spine pose, is great for beginners who are just starting out in yoga classes for asthma. In this position, you’ll sit on your buttocks and you’ll twist your spine.
You’ll do this by lifting one knee off the ground, placing your foot over the other knee, and turning in a sideward stance. When performing this pose, it is best to hold it for a minimum of 30 seconds at a time, on each side of your body.
This will allow you to get a deep stretch.
Working on this pose helps you with dexterity, muscle development, relaxation, and it is also going to help make you more nimble.
It helps increase oxygen intake, helps you better control your breathing, and the purpose is to eventually help control the possibility of an asthma attack.
Taking action today!
Other poses including back bridges and plank poses are also extremely beneficial when it comes to treating asthma as a beginner yoga practitioner.
No matter what your fitness levels are, or whether you’ve ever taken a yoga class in the past, these are easy poses that you can practice in the comfort of your own home, and will immediately notice improved patterns in your breathing over time.
There are many medications you can take for treating asthma; if you want something that is non-medicinal, safe, and is going to be just as effective, you’ll love the benefits that yoga presents for you as an asthma sufferer.
Of course, you’ll need to seek medical attention for severe cases, but there are many benefits of partaking in yoga, and naturally treating your asthma as well.
These are a few of the many poses to perform, and some of the main ways in which yoga will benefit you as an asthma sufferer, who wants to do simple, low-impact exercise while improving your breathing techniques.
Below, we list a number of resources we feel may be of value to you:
About the author of this article
My name is Lubna and I am a Holistic Food Coach, Natural Chef, Massage Specialist & Yoga teacher. I am passionate about your health and well-being. Now, health and well-being is my life! I practice yoga every morning. I attend and support my community fitness centre and I have recently learned how to swim.