Educational Info: How Yoga Can Help Asthma

Asthma is a Greek word which means short-drawn breath, gasping, or panting. Asthma is a disease of the airways, the small tubes which carry air in and out of the lungs. When you have asthma symptoms the muscles in the airways tighten and the lining of the airways swell and produces sticky mucus. These changes cause the airways to become narrow, so that there is less space for the air to flow into and out of your lungs.

Symptoms include coughing, tight feeling in the chest, wheezing (whistling noise when breathing), shortness of breath, struggling to breathe. These symptoms are often worse at night, in the early morning or during exercise. [1]

Asthma attack is triggered by infections like the common cold and sinusitis, irritants or allergens breathed in like fumes, (cigarette smoke, dust, pollens and moulds). Other triggers are food allergens, psychological changes, physical exertion, change in weather and even some medicines.

Yoga Therapy Corrective Pose from Yoga for Asthma on Amazon
Yoga Therapy pose for Asthma 
Many people who first think of yoga think of the more physical side of yoga the Asana (poses). In one of the ancient yogic texts The Yoga Sutras of Patanajali, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means "eight limbs". These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. All of these eight limbs could be beneficial in asthma management.
The use of asana (3rd yoga limb) for asthma is said to help in reducing the constriction of the bronchial tubes, regulate breathing patterns, as well as enhance the lung functioning. Yoga also has a stabilising effect on the body’s immune system. It is now proven that the regular and consistent practice of yoga raises the body’s tolerance to infection as well as its local resistance to infections in the respiratory tract. [2]

(4th yoga limb) can help increase lung capacity, create more efficient breathing and more energy release within the individual, helping to combat the tiredness and fatigue that can accompany restricted breathing.

According to yoga philosophy, a calm mind produces regular breathing and a relaxed body. So pranayama and dhyana (seventh yoga limb) can greatly benefit the management of asthma.

Some of the emotions that are associated with lung imbalance are feelings of depression and hopelessness,sadness, despair, anxiety, and grief. The fifth niyama, ishvara pranidhana (2nd Limb) can help us to deal with these feeling of hopelessness and despair.

Ishvara pranidhana means surrendering (pranidhana) to a higher source (ishvara). It reminds us that this higher source is all around as well as within us, and this knowledge can bring meaning to our life. Unfortunately a lot of us think surrender means giving in or ‘putting up the white flag’, but surrender means having faith in your abundant self, and in something a lot bigger and grander than you. It is to let go of the need to control everyone and everything, it is finding the resolve to stick to your decision to surrender any attachment to an outcome, even when it is uncomfortable. When the asthma sufferer practices surrender they can allow hope, trust and faith to return.

Then we have Yoga Therapy to also aid yoga treatment. Yoga Therapy is the use of yoga corrective poses, meditation and pranayama to help the body naturally heal and balance itself. The aim of these yoga corrective exercises is to bring the energy flow back into the meridians (energy channels) and assist the body in its natural healing process. To assist with the healing of asthma conditions we use yoga corrective poses that will help bring the Lung and Large Intestine back into balance.


1. National Asthma Association of Australia

2. Yoga for Asthma by Yoga Wiz

For more information on how yoga can help ease asthma conditions, check out my e-Book, Yoga for Asthma available on Amazon for just $3.99.

Article by Martine Ford