Yoga & Physiotherapy Can Help Cure Asthma-Here’s How

The first Tuesday of every May is observed as World Asthma Day. With the current pollution levels reaching a new high, and various minor/major illness making inroads into our lives, the need for greater awareness and better treatment of Asthma is higher now than before. Consultant Chest Specialist, Dr. G.S.Kailash gives handy tips for people suffering from Asthma.

How to control your asthma and keep asthma attacks from starting:

  •  Stay away from things that start your asthma attacks.
  • Take asthma medicines the way the doctor says to take them.
  • Go to the doctor 2 or 3 times a year for check-ups. Go even when you feel fine and have no breathing problems.

When you know there is asthma in the family, you may be able to keep your baby from getting asthma.

  •  When you are pregnant, do not smoke.
  • Keep tobacco smoke away from the baby and out of your home.
  • Put a special dust-proof cover on the baby’s mattress.
  • Keep cats and other animals with fur out of your home.

Some asthma attacks are mild. Some asthma attacks get very serious. People can die from a bad asthma attack. People with asthma may wake up at night because of coughing or trouble breathing. When asthma is not under control, the sides of the airways in the lungs are always thick and swollen. An asthma attack can happen easily. During an asthma attack, less air can get in and out of the lungs. People cough and wheeze. The chest feels tight. During an asthma attack, it looks like this inside the airways of the lungs. The sides of the airways get even more swollen. The airways get squeezed. The airways make mucus. Here’s how you need to act fast when an asthma attack starts for the individual.

  • Know the signs that an asthma attack is starting, i.e Cough, wheeze, tight chest, wake up at night.
  • Move away from the thing that started the attack.
  • Take a quick-relief asthma medicine.
  • Stay calm for 1 hour to be sure breathing gets better.

WHO report on air pollution is worrying. Here’s why


Consultant Physician and Yoga Expert Dr. Krishna Raman explains how yoga can help tackle Asthma:

Though an asthmatic can never really be completely free of the disease, it is possible to strengthen the system by the addition of the parameter of yoga to the regimen of treatment. In some cases, the practice of yoga should be continued along with medication for many months.

Yoga is very useful for the treatment of asthma as it primarily works by stabilising the autonomous nervous systems. According to yoga, quietude in the body always stabilises irritable responses. The parasympathetic tone is in excess in asthma; exercises always help balance the autonomic tone by raising the sympathetic.

The practice of asanas during an attack is different from when the patient is free of symptoms. All asanas are useful. If the patient is stable, standing poses can be practised. Back bends are very helpful to open the frontal lungs and relax the bronchial muscle.

The role of Pranayama:

Pranayama can come handy when environmental effects aggravate the situation. The sympathetic tone is raised and vagal tone lessened; in other words, a balance is obtained. The effect can be felt soon after the practice of pranayama is over.

A single long inhalation has been shown to enhance airways relaxation. The resistance to air flow in asthma occurs in medium-sized airways. The slower and longer the inhalation, the better the relaxation. The exhalation in yoga is never forced as it would narrow the bronchi. It is rather a slow, very deliberate process. It can take as much as one minute to complete an inhalation and exhalation.

The normal respiratory rate is 16 to 17 per minute. In pranayamic practice, this is brought to one or two per minute. One can well imagine the relaxation of the bronchial tree. Regular practice improves ventila­tion, better control of smooth muscle as the process of breathing helps in voluntary opening of airways.

There is a gradual change in the frequency of attacks and then a reduction in their severity. The breathing soothes the lining of the bronchial tree and prevents hypersensitivity to external allergens. Hence the chemical irritation of the lining is less. In pranayama, the varying rates of inhalation and exhalation give added benefits. As pranayama works at the microcellular level, stabilisation occurs over a prolonged period of time.

Physiotherapist Shubha Kamakshi explains how Physiotherapy can come in handy when tackling Asthma:

Breathing exercises:

Take in Air through nose for 1 second and blow it off for 2 to 3 seconds.  This enhances good pulmonary function.

Relaxed Postures : (a) one could physically relax and ease their posture in such a way that they clear the airway.  So patients sit on a chair and assume forward lean supporting posture over 1 to 2 pillows over a table.  They should turn to one side and begin to perform the breathing exercises.  (b) also the children can breathe either by whistling, paper blowing, or blow candles.

Localised basal expansion and gasp and breath technique can also be followed.

Chest Mobility Exercises

  1. Exercises: Sit erect on the chair and lift both the arms up and take a deep breath inside and bent down with your arms touching the ground while you sit breathing out for 2 to 3 seconds. Maintain the breathing ration by 1:2 or 1:3.
  2. B) Hold both your hands behind your neck by bending your elbows in sitting posture. Take a deep breath,  move the elbows apart from each other for 1second, and breath out for 2 to 3 seconds and get the elbows closer.
  3. Cycling and swimming are also good aerobic exercises to prevent Asthma.