How Yoga & Breathing Exercises Can Immensely Help Women With Asthma
If you’ve been living with asthma your whole life, you’re not alone—nearly 300 million people around the world are suffering the same chronic respiratory condition. Typically, keeping asthma in check means taking asthma medications and avoiding specific triggers. However, recent studies have shown that practicing yoga can also be beneficial to people living with asthma.
How does yoga help with managing asthma?
On its own, yoga is an excellent form of exercise for those looking for self-improvement. Even beginners can participate and work their way towards more complicated movements. Best of all, yoga can be done indoors, making it an ideal workout while in quarantine. For those who have asthma, findings have shown that practicing yoga can help alleviate symptoms.
While studies have found little evidence that yoga can be a replacement for currently known treatments, it can still be used to supplement them to improve your quality of life. Aside from helping to lessen symptoms, yoga has numerous benefits: increased flexibility, improved muscle strength and tone, better respiration and energy, weight loss, and more. Yoga also offers mental benefits, like managing stress and creating mental clarity. Poses such as the savasana, bridge, cobra, seated spinal twist, sukasana, forward bend, and side bend are ideal for these purposes as they focus on breath control, stress management, and opening respiratory muscles.
How do breathing exercises help with managing asthma?
While avoiding asthma triggers is the best way to prevent yourself from having an attack, this isn’t always possible. As attacks compromise your ability to take in air, breathing exercises may have a more lasting solution. Breathing exercises, put simply, are techniques developed to help you control your breathing better. When practiced correctly and frequently, you can breathe more effectively. This can ease you into a calmer state of mind when an attack is triggered, allowing for better breathing and a less severe attack. It can even prevent milder attacks.
Before jumping into yoga, make sure to consult your doctor for any additional steps you may need to take to keep your sessions healthy and safe. It is also recommended to have an inhaler nearby just in case. Here are some breathing exercises that you can try.
Pursed lip breathing
This technique was designed to relieve shortness of breath. By doing this breathing exercise, you can bring more oxygen to your lungs, slowing down your breathing rate to help prevent the onset of an attack.
- Sit down, preferably in a chair. Relax both your neck and shoulders.
- Inhale slowly through the nose for two counts. Keep your lips puckered, like you’re about to blow a candle.
- For four counts, exhale slowly through your lips. Make sure to release all the air in your lungs.
- Repeat the exercise until your breathing subsides to normal.
One of the biggest struggles of living with asthma is that your body exerts more effort than normal to breathe. This breathing exercise aims to lessen the effort by opening the airways, training and strengthening your abdominal muscles, and increasing lung and heart functions. Diaphragmatic breathing can also help relieve your asthma symptoms.
- Either sit in a chair or lie down on a comfortable surface. Put one hand on your belly to feel it moving in and out.
- Slowly take a breath through your nose, feeling your stomach area moving out. Count how long before your lungs are full. Purse your lips like you’re about to blow a candle.
- Exhale through your pursed lips, sustaining it for 2 to 3 counts longer than your intake of breath. You should be feeling your stomach area moving inwards as you let the air out.
This yoga technique can help improve lung function, especially when done alongside diaphragmatic breathing. The audible aspect of this exercise can also help promote relaxation.
- Sit up with your back straight, cross-legged on the floor, or a comfortable surface.
- Inhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are full.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, making an “aah” sound as you release your breath.
When you’ve mastered this exercise, you can move to exhaling loudly while your mouth is closed. Exhale through your nose while releasing an audible breath from the back of the throat.
While this breathing exercise is not part of traditional yoga practice, this can still help relieve asthma symptoms, particularly coughing and wheezing.
- Take a small breath and hold it for 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat a few times.
- Exhale through your nose.
- Pinch your nose with your thumb and index finger. Hold your breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Breathe for 10 seconds.
Repeat these steps until the coughing and wheezing are alleviated. If these symptoms continue within 10 minutes, use your inhaler. Yoga and breathing exercises not only give you a great workout for your body but can also calm the mind and improve your breathing. Living with asthma is difficult, but with the right exercises, you can weather through the worst of it.
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