Life with chronic lung disease can be difficult and overwhelming, so it is important to find help where you can. Many people overlook yoga breathing exercises as an effective tool for gaining control of your asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, or other lung condition. When properly understood and applied, yoga breathing exercises can help your asthma in several ways.
Benefits of Yoga for Asthmatics
Remember, there is no cure for asthma. Yoga cannot wipe the slate clean and eliminate flare-ups. However, it does offer more benefits than simply “helping you breathe better.” The following are 6 ways yoga can help your asthma.
1. Become more in tune with your body.
One of yoga’s primary purposes is to align a person’s mind with their body. Becoming more in tune with your body and its actions helps provide insight into attacks and flare-ups. It provides some awareness of triggers, improvements, etc.
2. Improve breath control.
Additionally, yoga helps strengthen your breath control. Focusing on each movement within your respiratory system improves your ability to breathe evenly. Breath control plays an important role in managing an asthma attack.
3. Practice calmness and peace of mind.
Particularly if you suffer from severe asthma, it is important to master the skill of remaining calm. It is very easy to panic when you cannot breathe. Yoga is designed to relax your mind and help you stay calm and peaceful in scary situations.
4. Slow your respiratory rate.
During yoga exercises, you should breathe slowly, evenly, and deeply. This slows your respiratory rate (how quickly you breathe) and helps you take in more oxygen. Deep, even breathing reduces flare-ups and provides a measure of control during an attack.
5. Soothe anxiety and reduce overall stress.
Anxiety triggers asthma attacks for many individuals. Reduced anxiety is a major benefit of practicing yoga and doubles as one less asthma trigger for you.
6. Gain control over muscles.
Yoga strengthens your core, back, shoulders, and every other muscle you use to breathe. Strengthening your respiratory muscles provides control over your breathing.
Yoga Exercises for Your Asthma
If you don’t practice yoga regularly, you might be hesitant to begin. In truth, you don’t have to spend hours each morning striking hundreds of yoga poses to see good results. Rather, you only need a few moments and one or two positions for yoga to help your asthma.
The savasana pose is perfect for relaxing your muscles and feeling each individual component of your body. Simply lie on your back, arms at your side, and relax your jaw, hands, and feet. Begin breathing slowly and deeply, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. With each breath, try to relax a new muscle. Feel your muscles physically relax more and more with each breath. Continue for 5-10 minutes.
Forward and Side Bend
To promote calmer, deeper breathing, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at the waist. Fold your arms, bend your knees slightly, and let the upper half of your body hang parallel to the lower half. Feel your chest open up and breathe steadily. To do a side bend instead, spread your legs a little wider and bend at your waist to one side. Lift your top hand toward the ceiling, palm up.
To stretch your respiratory muscles and increase calmness, sit down and cross your legs. Place one hand on the opposite knee, then twist to that side, using your other hand for support against the floor
The cobra pose stretches your chest and neck, encouraging airflow and providing muscle control. Lie down on your front side, with the tops of your feet and your hips flush with the ground. Place your palms against the ground, lift your torso, and arch your back so that you resemble a cobra ready to strike. Lean your head back to stretch your neck muscles.
To practice the camel pose, place your knees on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Then, allow yourself to relax and bend backward at the waist, resting your hands on your feet. Focus on feeling your lungs and chest open up, letting your air flow unrestricted.
Another simple yoga technique is to hold deep lunges, alternating sides. Breathe slowly and steadily during each lunge, remaining calm and relaxed.
Don’t Forget to Monitor Your Lung Health
In addition to proper breathing exercises, spirometry provides a great way to monitor important information about your lung health. Track symptoms, triggers, lung test scores, etc. and share them with your doctor to maintain control over your asthma.