Yoga Poses for Asthma

Tracey Kelley
Upward Facing Dog opens the chest and may provide relief from asthma symptoms.

Some people believe that yoga poses for asthma provide great relief from symptoms. Yoga practice is a good exercise for those who suffer from asthma because of the controlled deep breathing involved.

Why Yoga Might Help

For some people, asthma is chronic condition that doctors manage with regular medication. Their bodies may also have intense inflammation in the lungs, causing the airways to constrict more rapidly than what others experience. Many people who suffer from allergies may also experience asthmatic symptoms because of inflammation and congestion.

Certain asanas focus on opening the chest and improving breath stability. Yoga teaches us that breath is life; the integration of poses that enhance that breath help to improve an asthmatic's relief from symptoms. Many yogis prefer to use the practice as a way to limit reliance on prescribed medication and aid the body more naturally. People who suffer from exercise-induced asthma often have success with a regular yoga practice. With cardio exercise, the lungs are forced to quickly fulfill the body's need for more air and maintain that same vigorous level of air flow for an extended period of time. Individuals might experience coughing, lack of breath, a tightening of the chest, and wheezing without asthma-relief medication.

However, asthma sufferers can complete a full routine of various yoga styles without too many complications. During yoga, the airways open more gradually, and by incorporating yoga poses for asthma, individuals discover they improve breath control. Chest-opening postures can also help to clear the lungs of mucus lining the airways.

Types of Yoga Poses for Asthma

The goal is to open the chest wide and practice breathing techniques. Click on the blue links for more detail about each pose.

  • Bow Pose - Beginners can place a bolster or rolled blanket under the legs if that makes it more comfortable to hold the feet.
  • Bridge Pose - A terrific pose that you can do as soon as you wake up. In this posture, the knees should not go over the toes. Don't turn your head.
  • Camel Pose - This can be a difficult pose to do properly without putting strain on the back, so use a block under your feet or place your hands on your calves. Make sure to lift the chest high without scrunching the shoulders.
  • Cobra Pose - Try this posture or Upward Facing Dog Pose anytime to clear the airways and relieve stress.
  • Cow Pose - This is one of the easiest yoga poses for asthma. Combined with Cat Pose, it is a fun way to help children open the lungs.
  • Wheel Pose - For more experienced yogis, this posture provides one of the best chest stretches!

Before trying any exercise routine, it's imperative that people with asthma or exercised-induced asthma talk with their health practitioners. While yoga may relieve symptoms, asthma sufferers should be clear about their need for regular medication and how frequently inhalers should be used to prevent or alleviate an attack.

For example, this writer has exercised-induced asthma, and uses an inhaler before performing Vinyasa Flow routines or Bikram Yoga, but not for a general Hatha Yoga sequence.

Retraining Breath

Yoga instructor Barbara Benagh has asthma. After a severe asthma attack put her in an intensive care unit, she made it her mission to discover ways to overcome the condition. In this article on Yoga Journal, Benagh talks about how people with asthma breathe differently, and how retraining breath control may be the key to relief. She provides a series of breathing exercises that help.

Yoga Poses for Asthma