Author: Kamaljeet Kaur
Summary: A chronic, generally considered incurable disease of the respiratory system, asthma causes inflammation, spasms, or tightening in the bronchial tubes and leads to difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma cases vary from person to person, and various factors such as allergies, the weather, exertion, or simply genetics can trigger asthmatic symptoms. Many treatments for asthma exist today, and many people monitor their symptoms and use their own personalized treatments. Yoga offers several helpful techniques for curing asthma.
Asthma in brief
Asthma is a long-term, chronic disease, which occurs in the respiratory system. The disease causes inflammation, spasms, or tightening in the bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes are the passage way to the lungs which are responsible for carrying air directly to the lungs. The inflammation caused by asthma. There is no said cure for asthma, and the true cause of asthma is unknown. Most of the people diagnosed with asthma are however able to find ways to control the asthmatic symptoms with treatment.
Asthma can be caused by allergies, the weather (cold or hot), sport induced, or simply acquired by genetics. Often, pulmonary specialist helps their patients find a way to treat their specific kind of asthma through a process of trial and error.
Asthma is a condition of the bronchial tubes characterized by episodes of constriction and increased mucous production. A person with asthma has bronchial tubes that are super sensitive to various stimuli, or triggers, which can produce the symptoms. In other words, asthmatics have special sensitivities that causes their lung tissue to react far more than is usual to various stimulating factors or triggers. Some symptoms that people with asthma commonly experience are tightening of the chest, difficulty inhaling and exhaling, sneezing, production of large amounts of mucous in their windpipes and coughing. Coughing can be frequent or intermittent; it can be loose reflecting extra mucous secretion in the airways, or, dry and deep reflecting tight bronchospasms. Not all these symptoms occur in every case of asthma. Sometimes people may have coughing without any other symptoms for months or even years before it is realized that they are asthmatic.
Asthma and Bronchitis are two chronic lung ailments that can cause damage to the lungs. These should be treated immediately to avoid any complications.
This is a very common respiratory complaint, which involves a severe narrowing of the bronchial tubes (bronchi). These tubes lead from the windpipe – called the trachea – into the lungs and they carry the oxygen we breathe in to all parts of the lungs and provide a path for the carbon dioxide to escape up the trachea when we breathe out. This narrowing of the bronchi causes difficulty in breathing, specifically when breathing out.
The typical attack is characterized by a sudden shortness of breath and wheezing, also sometimes accompanied by coughing. The bringing up of phlegm is not a prominent part of the attack, but if it occurs, the patient may also have Bronchitis. Asthma attack is triggered by infections like common cold and sinusitis, irritants or allergens breathed in like fumes and dust, food allergens, psychological changes, physical exertion, and even medicinal drugs. Identifying the causes and treating the symptoms early on can help prevent attacks and make it worse.
Bronchitis is a more critical lung ailment compared to Asthma – a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. This is a serious infection of the lungs and bronchial tubes, which can become chronic. Breathing polluted air and smoking are mainly responsible for this ailment.
This particular disorder has inflamed bronchial tubes caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It may develop suddenly, following a head cold (acute Bronchitis), or it may persist or return regularly for many years, causing progressive degeneration of bronchi and lungs (chronic Bronchitis). The color of the sputum (phlegm) shows how serious the form of chronic Bronchitis is. On one hand, initial symptoms for acute Bronchitis include head cold, running nose, fever and chills, aching muscles, and possibly back pain. The most obvious feature that follows is persistent cough. On the other hand, chronic Bronchitis is characterized by cough with sputum (phlegm), and other symptoms depend on how much or how little emphysema is present.
Certain people are more susceptible than others; men are more so than women, outnumbering them ten to one – the reasons why are unclear. Smokers are 50 times more likely to get chronic Bronchitis than non-smokers. Generally, it occurs with greater frequency in winter, in damp, cold climates, and in heavily polluted environments. Chilling, overcrowding, fatigue, and excessive smoking are contributory factors.
Yoga and Asthma
Yoga is a system inclusive of physical and mental training that can benefit people of all ages. It involves Asana (body postures) and Pranayama (art of breath control), among which of its physical uses are to reduce stress-related conditions, help with circulatory and respiratory disorders such as Asthma and Bronchitis, and improve over-all health.
Yoga Exercises including the poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama), and relaxation techniques aim to help control the mind and emotions. This combination causes one to be more relaxed and therefore able to breathe easier. This will also help the lungs work better and enhance airflow during asthma attacks.
The following Yoga poses can help to overcome some of the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. These can be used on their own or when necessary in combination with medication and guidance from a qualified therapist or medical practitioner.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
This is one of the classic Meditative Poses and is usually performed after doing the Corpse Pose. The Easy Pose helps in straightening the spine, slowing down metabolism, promoting inner tranquility, and keeping your mind still.
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Yoga practice can ease tension, increase flexibility, and tone the muscles. This section covers the steps on how to practice Shoulder Lifts.
Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
If done properly, the Half Spinal Twist lengthens and strengthens the spine. It is also beneficial for your liver, kidneys, as well as adrenal glands. Practice this Yoga Pose under the supervision of a Yoga instructor. In this section, learn how to perform the Half Spinal Twist.
Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)
The term Pavanamuktasana comes from the Sanskrit word 'pavana' which means air or wind and 'mukta' which means freedom or release. The Wind Relieving Pose works mainly on the digestive system. Specifically, it helps in eliminating excess gas in the stomach.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The Corpse Yoga Pose is considered as a classic relaxation Yoga Pose and is practiced before or in between Asanas as well as a Final Relaxation. While it looks deceptively simple, it is actually difficult to perform.
Anuloma Viloma is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. In this Breathing Technique, you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril.
There are three parts to proper relaxation - physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. Relaxation Yoga Pose relaxes your body and mind, and makes you feel refreshed after doing the asana and the pranayama. This is why it is an essential part of Yoga practice.
The following asanas are recommended for treating asthma symptoms: Bujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Ardhmatsyendrasana, Akarna Dhanurasana, Ushtrasana, Chakrasana, Trikonasana, Veerasana, , Vipareetkarni, Vakarasana, Uttanpadasana, Pawanmuktaasana, Sulabh Ushtrasana, Ardha Chakrasana, Majarasana, Garudasana, Patangasana.
How yoga helps in Asthma.
Simple yoga postures done as a daily exercise practice will lead to awareness of the very power and connection we have with our breath. There are yoga poses to assist asthmatics with deep breathing through gentle movements. Breathing while seated in a chair will help to train the individual to breath through the abdomen rather than just the chest which is more efficient.
Forward bend, Uttanasana in Sanskrit, is a basic standing forward fold that compresses the belly and allows for lengthened exhalations.
Triangle, Trikonasana in Sanskrit, mobilizes the rib cage and stretches the intercostals muscles fully. The general lifestyle involved in Yoga serves as a good therapy for respiratory problems.
A healthy diet can build your resistance against cold, allergies, and other environmental causes of asthma, bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory disorders. It also promotes a non-smoking lifestyle.
Yogasanas strengthen the abdominal wall, pushing it inside so that the diaphragm rises further into the chest. This helps the lungs to empty efficiently.
Relaxation during asanas removes tensions in the respiratory muscles which, in turn, will help the asthmatic patient to breathe more efficiently. This is reflected in increased breath holding time.
Kapalbhati is one of the hatha yoga shatkriyas which is directly concerned with breathing. Forced, efficient exhalation, with passive inhalation, is its special feature. It produces a strong current of expelled air, helping to expel bronchial secretions and strengthen the expiratory phase of the breathing cycle.
Pranayama and cleansing techniques such as neti, vaman, vastra dhauti, nauli and especially kapalbhati directly influence the respiratory centres of the brain. By this powerful voluntary influence upon the brain activity, the patient gains a higher level of control over the movements of the respiratory muscles and the patterns of thought, feeling and general behaviour. This is fundamental in the management and cure of asthma with Yoga.
Neti kriyas cleans nasal passages, releasing constricted upper airways and increasing the flow of breath. It should be routinely performed in cases of asthma (especially of allergic origin).
Pranayama like Anuloma Viloma( opposite nostril breathing) and bharamari(humming bee breath) done without Kumbhak(breath retention) are very good
Some research done:-
In 1978 a research on bronchial asthma was done at Raipur Medical College. Ventilator function tests (VFT) was studied before, during and at the end of a six week course of yogic practices. Three out of twenty-seven patients left the study, 62.5% of the patients showed improvements in VFT and clinical features. These were cases of early disease with mild to moderate severity. Patients with severe and persistent asthma showed no improvements.
In 1998 a similar research was done at the Northern Colorado Allergy Asthma Clinic, seventeen patients were divided into Yoga and non-Yoga control groups. The Yoga group was taught a set of breathing and relaxation techniques, including pranayama, yoga asana, and meditation, the yoga group were doing three times a week for a period of 16 weeks. Analysis of data taken during the 16 weeks showed that the subjects in the yoga groups reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude and better yoga exercise tolerance, and there was also a tendency toward lesser usage of medicine, the pulmonary functions did not vary significantly between yoga and non-yoga control groups. Yoga techniques seem beneficial as an adjunct to the medical management of asthma.
Recent research findings
A number of experiments have revealed that asthma can be either cured or the patients’ condition vastly improved by yoga practices.
Dr. Bhole, M.D. of Lonavala Institute, who has investigated the influence of yogic pranayama in normal and asthmatic individuals (*1), has reported the following findings:
Yoga Vidya Dham, Kaivalya Nagari,
College Road, Nashik - 422005.
Phone - +91-9822770727 (for courses in ENGLISH)
+91-253-2318090 (For courses, in HINDI or MARATHI)
(Please call during 9.00 AM to 5 PM Indian Time)
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com