Yoga Therapy for Asthma
Ancient yog techniques, due to their psychological and physical effect on body and mind can be employed in the treatment and management of Physiological and psychosomatic disorders, but it should be remembered, that basically traditional yog was not developed as a system of therapy.
Yoga therapy in its present form is a new discipline, created by the marriage of traditional yog with modern medicine. By tailoring yoga practices to individual needs. Whilst taking medical consideration into account, yoga therapy is more effective than general yoga practice as a safe means of treating medical conditions and also applies equal focus on mind, body and spirit, but avoids judgment and communicates the form and essence of yoga.
This exercise helps you establish a calm state before doing the other exercises. Begin by lying down with a firm pillow or a folded blanket under your head. Bend your knees and rest your feet flat on the floor. It that is not comfortable, place a bolster or rolled blanket under the knees. Feel free to shift your position and stretch if you become uncomfortable. Some people like to play calming music as well. Place your hands on your belly, close your eyes, and turn your attention inward. How do you feel? Are you uneasy, uncomfortable, buzzing, or distracted? Is it difficult to lie still? Is your mind racing? The goal is to let go of all that, which is not always easy. It may take several minutes to relax deeply. Give yourself time.
With each exhalation, let your belly sink away from your hand and into the back body. After a gentle pause, can you feel the belly rise effortlessly when you inhale? This relaxed action cannot be rushed, so don’t force the movement in any way; an easy rhythm will settle in as your state of relaxation deepens.
I call this exercise “The Wave” because of the soothing movement that ripples up and down the spine when the body settles into your natural breath. This movement helps unlock the diaphragm and massages the abdomen, chest, and spine, releasing tension that can interfere with healthy breathing. After Deep Relaxation, place your arms on the floor alongside your torso. Close your eyes and turn your attention to the belly and the way it melts into the pelvis each time you exhale. Begin The Wave by gently relaxing the lower back into the floor as you exhale, and then lift it a couple of inches as you inhale. The hips stay on the floor as the lower back rises and falls. This need not be a big movement, and the pace of breathing should be slow and easy. Allow yourself to settle into and slightly amplify this rhythmic wave, and notice if you can feel movement all the way up and down the spine. Repeat this exercise 10 or 15 times before continuing to the next technique.
Poor breathing habits may confuse you and cause you to reverse the coordination of movement and breath, so pay close attention. If you find yourself feeling tense, take a few normal relaxing breaths between cycles.
Softening the Inhalation
In this exercise you will try to soften the effort you use to inhale, and to decrease the length of your inhalation until it is shorter than the exhalation by as much as half. When you first try this exercise, you may feel an urgent desire to breathe in more. Instead, remember that over breathing is a habit that perpetuates your asthma.
To identify your basic relaxed breathing rate, begin by counting the length of your exhalation, the pause afterward, and the following inhalation. After several minutes, start to modify your breath rhythm to emphasize the exhalation. Use the baseline length of your exhalation as the gauge for any modifications you make : In other words, don’t struggle to lengthen your exhalation; instead, shorten your inhalation. With practice, this will become easier. In the meantime, take several of your baseline breaths between cycles if you feel anxious or strained.
Complete Diaphragmatic Exhalations
An inability to exhale fully is a defining symptom of asthma. I practice this frequently whenever I feel short of breath. Lie on your back with your eyes closed and arms stretched out along your sides. Beginning with an exhalation, purse your lips and blow the breath out in a steady. Your will feel a strong action in the belly as the abdominal muscles assist the exhalation. Your exhalation should be longer than usual, but it is important not to push this too far. If you do, it will be difficult to pause after exhaling and your subsequent inhalation will be strained.
Pause for a few seconds after your exhalation, relaxing the abdomen. Then, keeping your throat open, allow the inhalation to flow in through the nose. Because of the stronger exhalation, you should be able to feel the inhalation being drawn down effortlessly into the lower chest. Count the length of the exhalation, the pause, and the inhalation. At first, try to make the exhalation at least as long as the inhalation; do this by shortening your inhalation, as in the previous exercise. (Unlike the previous exercise, in which you breathe at your normal resting rate, your breath here will be both longer and stronger.) Eventually, aim to make your exhalation more than twice as long as the inhalation and to make the pause after the exhalation comfortable rather than hurried. Since asthmatics find exhalation difficult, it may help you to imagine the exhalation flowing upward, like a breeze within the rib cage, as the breath leaves the body. Repeat five to 10 cycles of this exercise. As with all the exercises, I recommend you take several normal breaths between cycles.
This exercise is designed to help regulate the CO2 levels in the body. It doesn’t give the same quick fix as an inhaler, but it can turn an asthma attack around if you start it early enough. By pausing before you inhale, you give the body a chance to slow down and build up the level of carbon dioxide. An overbreather may find this to be the hardest exercise of all. At the outset it may the difficult to pause for even a few seconds, but if you keep trying you will notice improvement, perhaps even during a single practice session. Eventually, the pause can extend up to 45 seconds or even longer.,
Position yourself as before : on your back, knees bent, with feet flat on the floor. In this exercise I recommend that you consciously shorten your inhalations and exhalations. (Your breath rate should not become rapid, though; the shorter inhalations and exhalations are balanced by the longer extended pause.) Inhale for one or two to four seconds, and then pause. During the pause should be like the natural relaxation that occurs as you exhale. You can extend the pause by consciously relaxing wherever you feel specific tensions.
As with all these exercises, patience yields better results than force. Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, and feel free to take normal breaths between cycles.
There are, of course, many other breathing techniques that can be beneficial in the management of asthma, but I can personally vouch for the transformative power of the exercises in this program.
Catch Your Breath
Once I understood that breaking the cycle of over breathing is essential to overcoming asthma naturally, I could draw on all my years of experience with pranayama. I experimented with breathing techniques to see what would restore my natural breath rhythm. Over time I settled on a handful of exercises that were both simple and effective at slowing my breath rate and reducing the incidence and severity of my asthma. There are certain precautions to consider as you embark on this program. The program may ultimately reduce your dependence on medication or enable you to do away with it altogether, but this should not be done hastily or without the approval of a doctor. If you have diabetes, kidney disease, or chronic low blood pressure, have had recent abdominal surgery, or are pregnant, you should consult with your physician before doing these exercises, I also strongly suggest that asthmatics avoid additional breathing exercises which call for rapid breathing (kapalabhati/bhastrika), retention of the inhalation (antara kumbhaka), or tightening the throat (strong ujjayi). Asthmatics must realize that many breathing exercises which are quite beneficial for a normal breather may have a paradoxical impact on an asthmatic, and also do Jal-Neti, Ghrit-Neti, Gomukhasana, Matshyasana daily with above exercises.
Some studies indicate that people with Asthma have environmental allergies. Although food allergies may also contribute to the problem, some researchers believe food allergies only rarely sinusitis. If other treatment approaches are unsuccessful, people with sinusitis may choose to work with a nutritionist in order to evaluate what, if any, effect elimination of food and other allergens might have on reducing their symptoms.
Histamine is associated with increased nasal and sinus congestion. Vitamin C (2,000 mg three times per day) reduced histamine levels in people, has been reported to relieve symptoms of acute Asthma. Eliminate mild and all milk products from the diet, including prepared foods that list milk as an ingredient. An overwhelming majority of patients report dramatic improvement in Asthma conditions after two months of this dietary change.
Do not smoke. Do not spend time around smokers or in smoky environments.