I’ve suffered from asthma my whole life and have always found it frustrating when it gets in the way of my day. It’s particularly annoying when my wheezy lungs prevent me from reaching my full potential when it comes to exercise. I have always thought that a healthy outlook on life is the best route to a happy life, so I try not to let asthma get in the way, but it loves to creep up at the most inappropriate of times.
There are around 25 million Americans suffering from asthma today and this number appears to be on the rise. There are lots of treatments currently available and many prescribed medicines out there which are still very important if you are an asthma sufferer, however, new studies suggest a novel approach which could actually have a pretty drastic effect on asthma.
Yoga’s Effect on Asthma
A new Cochrane Review published in the Cochrane Library has suggested that the practice of yoga may have beneficial effects on asthma’s symptoms as well as lung function. By practicing yoga on a regular basis, I have seen a difference in my lung health, as well as my overall health.
How Does It Work?
There are a lot of different suggestions out there as to how yoga works to combat asthma’s symptoms, and more research needs to be done to ascertain the exact reasons. Personally, I believe the fact that yoga allows us to focus on our breathing and start breathing in ways we never normally would in our day-to-day, has the greatest effect.
There are some very simple poses that I will share with you today that you can start doing to open the chest and lungs, stimulate proper oxygen flow, and begin blast away the wheeze!
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
This is my favorite way to start yoga sessions as it completely calms the body down and settles the mind at the same time. It’s also really to do:
Find a comfortable place to sit, spine straight, body relaxed.
Bring your right to your head, placing the pointer and middle fingers gently on your brow to use as an anchor for the hand.
Gently squeeze your right nostril closed using your thumb and breathe in deeply, then squeeze your left nostril closed with your ring finger and hold this breath for a brief pause.
Remove your thumb and breathe out through your right nostril.
Breathe in again, then cover both nostrils at the top of your breath, and switch nostrils again.
Do this for 5 – 10 cycles, keeping a steady, calm breath throughout.
Taking the time to breathe deeply and steadily has a healing effect on the respiratory system, as you’re giving it a chance to recover from quick, shallow breaths that asthma brings on us. Simply by devoting your focus to your breathing in this way, you can quickly take control of it and calm yourself.
2. Sitting Half Spinal Twist
I love this pose so much. You really expand your chest, which encourages a lot of air to fill your lungs. Plus this position really strengthens your spine which helps support proper posture. Posture is vital when it comes to dealing with asthma, and is another reason why yoga can be so effective in doing so.
Sit with your legs out in front of you.
Take your right leg, and place the sole of your foot on the outside of your left thigh.
Bend your left knee to bring that leg close to your body, and place your left hand on your right knee.
Support yourself with your right hand behind you.
Gently twist the waist, shoulders, and neck to the left, making sure you keep your spine erect.
Repeat this on the other side.
By continuing to breathe deeply throughout this pose, you welcome oxygen deep into your lungs. Furthermore, the stretch that this brings to your abdominal area helps you to avoid any restricting tightness throughout the day.
3. Bridge Pose
This is another pose that is very open in the chest area. This one might take you a little more time to get used to, but it’s well worth it once you can crack it. This is another fantastic lung expanding pose and once more stretches the abdominal muscles, encouraging deeper breaths.
Begin lying down with your arms by your side.
Bring your feet towards your butt, bending at the knees.
Once your feet are directly under your knees, lift your hips up off the floor, keeping the length of your arms on the ground.
Draw your shoulder blades back to encourage your chest to open in this pose.
Do this for around 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
You should end all of your yoga sessions with a 5 – 10-minute savasana. This pose, as the name suggests, is in the first impression simply lying down. It brings the body into a really calm state, encouraging relaxed, deep breaths.
For this pose, you simply lie down on your back, arms at your sides and completely relaxed, and breathe deeply. Your legs should be slightly spread apart, your palms facing the ceiling, fingers naturally curling in.
This pose is particularly useful for asthma sufferers as a lot of attacks are brought on by anxiety or panic attacks which lead to quick, sharp breaths – definitely something we want to avoid! The psychological effects of completely switching off, clearing the mind of daily stresses and calming down when in this pose will have some wonderful long-term benefits.
If you aim to do each of these poses for 10-15 minutes a day, especially if you can make them part of your morning routine, you will really notice the benefits. By expanding your chest, you open your body to invite huge surges of oxygen which will not only help wake you up, but promote a healthier lifestyle and, most importantly, begin to treat the symptoms of asthma at their core.