A yoga class comprising breathing exercises and asanas improved adult asthma as a complementary therapy, per a study in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

The prescribed yoga class included yoga poses and yoga breathing exercises, called pranayama. If you have asthma, get permission from your doctor before trying to help yourself with yoga.

Yoga breathing exercises for adult asthma.

Yoga breathing exercises for adult asthma.

Yoga for Asthma Research

This yoga therapy study examined the results from 60 patients with mild to moderate adult asthma aged between 18 and 60  years. Researchers randomized the patients into two groups: a yoga training group and a control group. The yoga training group completed the prescribed yoga program (scroll down to view the sequence) and the control group had no treatment. Importantly, all the participants took their prescribed asthma medications throughout the study.

The Yoga Training Group

The yoga training group enjoyed five to six days of guidance from a yoga expert on how to do the yoga sequence to improve adult asthma and then practiced at home: 40 to 50 minutes per day for two months. The yoga therapy for asthma class comprised:

  • 30 to 35 minutes of yoga breathing exercises (pranayama)
  • 10 minutes of yoga poses
  • 10 minutes of meditation

The researchers also asked the participants to modify their lifestyle by increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables and sleeping between seven and eight hours per night. The participants kept a diary detailing their medication use, asthma symptom severity, and activity limitations due to their condition.

Yoga Breathing Exercises for Adult Asthma

The following list shows the pranayama exercises that composed the yoga breathing component prescribed for adult asthma in the study. So you can try it yourself, the sequence provided here is that same as that in the study:

  1. 2 minutes of slow, deep breathing called Bellows Breath or Bhastrika
  2. 15 minutes of Alternate Nostril breathing in the cross-legged position Sukhasana
  3. 10 minutes of forced exhalation called Frontal Brain Cleansing Breath or Kapalpbhati
  4. 4 repetitions of deep breathing with retention for 10 seconds called Bahaya Pranayama
  5. 5 repetitions of Humming Bee Breath called Bhramari
  6. 5 Om chants

Yoga Poses for Adult Asthma

Here is the 10-minute yoga pose sequence the participants completed after the breathing exercises. Unfortunately, the study’s report did not detail the number of repetitions or how long to hold each pose. Considering that you would have to finish all four of them in 10 minutes, as an experienced yogi, I would guess two rounds of Sun Salutation; three repetitions of Palm Tree Pose as described in Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha; 1 minute for the Seated Forward Bend for 1 minute, and 1 minute for the Frog Pose.

  1. Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskar
  2. Palm Tree Pose – Tadasana
  3. Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana
  4. Frog Pose – Mandukasana

Yoga Increases Quality of Life for Adult Asthmatics

The researchers found the yoga sequence to improve adult asthma resulted in a significant increase in quality of life. The yoga group had a statistically significant improvement in

  • transfer factor of the lung for carbon monoxide (TLCO)
  • forced vital capacity (FVC)
  • forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1)
  • peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR)
  • maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV)
  • slow vital capacity (SVC)

How Does Yoga Therapy Improve Adult Asthma?

Why does yoga pranayama improve adult asthma? The researchers think the yoga breathing exercises and yoga poses improve adult asthma by

  • increasing respiratory stamina
  • relaxing the chest muscles
  • expanding the lungs
  • raising energy levels
  • calming the body

Yoga Breathing Exercises to Improve Adult Asthma

Singh, S., Soni, R., Singh, K., & Tandon, O. (2012). Effect of yoga practices on pulmonary function tests including transfer factor of lung for carbon monoxide (TLCO) in asthma patients. Indian journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 56(1), 63-68.