Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disorder. Typical symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
In a recent study, researchers review previous findings and suggest that yoga may bring health benefits to people with asthma. The paper is published in Cochrane Review.
Researchers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Southern Medical University in China conducted the review.
They reviewed 15 studies that compared the effects of yoga with the effects of usual treatment in 1,048 participants. The result showed that yoga probably improves quality of life and asthma symptoms to some extent.
They suggest that as a holistic therapy, yoga practice contains no asthma-specific posture or breathing exercises. The exact mechanism by which yoga may affect asthma symptoms is not fully understood. However, several explanations have been proposed.
First, yoga practice has special breathing patterns, e.g., the tidal volume and breathing rate decrease, and this may interfere with the process that triggers asthma attacks.
Empirically, experiments in patients with asthma have demonstrated that specific breathing exercises or techniques could help reduce asthma symptoms, and could significantly improve quality of life as compared with asthma education.
Second, certain yoga postures may help expand the chest and increase breath-holding time as well as vital capacity. This, logically, could have some effect on the lung function of patients with asthma.
Thirdly, by practicing yoga people with asthma may achieve a sense of relaxation and a positive mood, thus reducing the autonomic arousal factors for asthma.
Meditation, a common component of yoga, may even help yoga practitioners reach a state of complete mental silence. This may benefit people with chronic diseases, including asthma.
Meditation may also help the control and feedback of respiratory muscles that would be adversely affected by asthma attacks.
Citation: Yang ZY, et al. (2016). Yoga for asthma. Cochrane Review, published online. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010346.
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