What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the practice of controlling breathing and it is really beneficial for controlling the symptoms of asthma(1,2,3,4,5)
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a persistent illness of the respiratory system, affecting the airways and the lungs, hence hindering the flow of air to and fro from the lungs.(6) A patient experiencing asthma faces difficulty in breathing from constricted air passages occurring in asthma.(7)
What Triggers Asthma?
Pollen, mites, certain food, environmental irritants, such as dust and smoke, and even stress, triggers asthma.(8,9,10)
Is There Any Cure For Asthma?
There is no cure for asthma.(11) The treatment revolves around reducing the symptoms or preventing the recurrence of a fresh asthma attack.(11)
Pranayama For Asthma
The main objective behind pranayama is to benefit asthma patients by:
- Pranayama leads to a gradual decline in the frequency of breathing when suffering from asthma attack.(13)
- Practicing Pranayama helps in focusing the mind on breathing.(12)
- Practicing Pranayama helps with the ability to hold the breath at the end of each inspiration.(14)
Different Types of Pranayama That Can Help In Asthma
There are few pranayama exercises which help asthma patients to get relief from the symptoms of asthma.
Also known as the breath of fire, Bhastrika Pranayama forces both the inhalation and exhalation process of respiration.(15,16) The inhalation and exhalation help in providing complete oxygen to the body and thus helps in asthma. Bhastrika Pranayama gives strength to the lungs and also proves to be helpful in diseases, such as allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases. Bhastrika Pranayama improves the immune system of the body, which plays a role in fighting against any infection entering the body and also helps in managing asthma.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama
Anulom Vilom Pranayama is a very easy breathing exercise with a bundle of health benefits, which also includes helping with the symptoms of asthma.(17) Anulom Vilom Pranayama helps asthma by reducing stress and depression,(18) which plays a role in triggering asthma. Anulom Vilom Pranayama also improves lung function and proves to be an effective practice for asthma patients.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
Nadi shodhan is the next level of anulom vilom pranayama. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is also known as an alternate nostril breathing exercise and is of great help to asthma patients.(19,20) The nadis, which are the subtle energy channels in the body, get blocked because of unhealthy lifestyle, stress or trauma. Shodhan is cleansing and unblocking these nadis. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama asana helps in relieving stress, tension and calms the mind.
Kapalbhati pranayama is a technique of breathing with a profound effect on the cardiovascular system and mind.(21) Exhalation during Kapalbhati Pranayama is done with a stroke and it is assumed that all the mental and physical disorders are kicked out of the body and mind. Kapalbhati Pranayama improves the respiratory system functioning and in this way helps with asthma.(21)
Savasana is like a sleeping pose, which relaxes the mind and the body and helps in improving the concentration, insomnia, mental health, and also relaxes the muscles. In this way, Savasana helps in asthma.
Benefits of Pranayama for People Suffering From Asthma
- Pranayama improves lung function within a short period of time and hence helps in asthma.
- Pranayama reduces exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, which helps in improving asthma symptoms.
- Pranayama increases the strength of inspiratory and expiratory muscles, which greatly helps asthma patients.
- Regular practice of pranayama improves the hyperresponsiveness of the body to allergens. Allergy is the most common cause of asthma.
- Pranayama calms the body and mind, relieves tension and stress, which are all the triggers of asthma.
Pranayama is a safe and non-invasive method of treating asthma. Always ensure that you do it properly. It is recommended to take advice from a certified yoga practitioner, to start with and reap the maximum benefits of this natural technique, i.e. Pranayama to help better deal with your asthma.