Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People who have asthma have inflamed airways. This makes the airways swollen and very sensitive. They tend to react strongly to certain substances that are breathed in. When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This causes the airways to narrow, and less air flows to your lungs. The swelling also can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal.
Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow your airways. This chain reaction can result in asthma symptoms. It’s important to treat symptoms when you first notice them. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing a severe asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can cause death. Asthma can't be cured. Even when you feel fine, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any time. But with today’s knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms. They can live normal, active lives and sleep through the night without interruption from asthma. Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts in childhood. There are about 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States itself. What is alarming is slightly less than half of them (about 9 million) are children below 18 years. Out of the total asthmatics, about 70% have other allergies and 10 million of Americans suffer from allergic asthma.
Yoga and Asthma
It has also been proved that asthma attacks can usually be prevented by yoga methods without resorting to drugs. Physicians have also found improved concentration abilities and yoga meditation together with the practice of simple postures and breath control makes treatment more effective. Yoga practice also results in greater reduction in anxiety than drug therapy. Doctors believe that yoga practice helps patients by enabling them to gain access to their own internal experience and increased self-awareness. A type of meditation based on yoga eases asthma for some. Simple relaxation techniques and exercise can help regulate breathing patterns and also improve lung function. As a result, some asthmatics may find yoga helps them to manage their condition by easing symptoms. Main focus is on the restoration of depleted and blocked pranic energy channels thus the yogic treatment is used more for reducing asthma. Yogic treatment reduces the intensity of attack and increases the gap between two attacks. It enhances the stamina, endurance and reduces hyperacidity. The treatment is done through shuddhi kriyas, asanas, and pranayamas in attack free condition.
YOGA POSES FOR ASTHMA
Easy Yoga Pose
Sukhasana, is the easiest of the yoga poses for asthma as far as yoga and asthma goes. Sitting erect on the floor, cross your legs and clasp your knees easily and that's it. Breathe easy for 5 minutes.
Yoga sun salutation (Surya namaskara) is a combination of 12 poses in a sequence beginning and ending in stand-at-ease pose, the 5th and 6th of them being standing on four limbs with body horizontal to the ground while forehead and nose touches ground. The sequential breathing series during the Sun Salutation prepares respiratory mechanism for the asthma combats.
This exercise promotes balance in the spine which can aid in proper breathing. To begin, stand with your back straight and your arms pressed against your sides, palms inward. Both feet should be touching, from heel to toe. Gently flex the muscles in your lower extremities, continuing to maintain a firm position. Distribute your weight equally on both feet. Tilting your head back, lift the buttocks off your legs, arch your back, and push your stomach forward.
This posture stretches the chest, lungs, and abdomen to assist in correct breathing techniques. To come into this pose, lie face down on the floor, keeping your legs together. Position your arms close to your body, hands by your chest. Inhale. Elevate your head and chest as high as possible, keeping your buttock muscles firm to shield your lower back from injury. Always keep your pelvis on the ground. Inhale and exhale several times and then lower yourself back down to the floor. Repeat the steps above. Raise yourself as high as you can and then lift up on your arms, lengthening the spine even further. Breathe in and out once more and then release.
This movement extends the chest, lungs, and abdomen, aiding in the execution of suitable breathing methods. To begin, lie on your stomach, palms on the ground. Drop your shoulders down and back and press your chest forward. Tilt your head slowly upwards. Inhaling, lift your thighs and legs off of the floor by pushing the tops of your feet down. Inhale and exhale, holding for 1-3 breaths. To release, bend your knees and return to the ground.
This pose controls breathing and constricts the chest and the entire body, adding flexibility to the spine. To come into this posture, position yourself on the ground on all fours, knees under hips and hands in front of your shoulders. Inhale, bringing head and tailbone slowly upwards. Exhaling, rise from the floor with your knees bent. Straighten your arms and legs, but keep your head lowered. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds, continuing to inhale and exhale throughout.
This position tones the spinal nerves and ligaments, strengthens abdominal muscles, and refreshes the lungs. To begin, sit up straight, your legs in front of you. Turn slightly to the right, placing your left hand on the outer sector of your right thigh and your right hand behind you for balance. Return to the sitting position. Repeat the same twist to the left side.
This pose, the final stage in a yoga session, relaxes and refreshes the body and mind. To come into this posture, lie on your back, arms by your sides, your palms facing up. Breathe deeply and slowly through the nostrils until the pose is completed. Your legs should be straight and together, with your feet rolled out to the sides. Tilt your forehead slightly higher than your chin. Let your body completely relax. Clear your mind of all stress, tension, and worries. Hold the pose for 10 minutes and then release.
YOGA ASANAS FOR ASTHMA
Matsya in Sanskrit means fish. One immediately identifies this asana with the figurative relevance like any other hatha asanas. But here the asana is suggestive of the quality of floating like a fish - a state that’s induced by assuming this posture.MatsyasanaTraditional texts state that Matsyasana is the "destroyer of all diseases." This asana is therapeutically helpful in constipation, respiratory faculties, fatigue and anxiety.It’s also good for preventing mildly recurring backaches before they go worse.
- Assume padmasana If it is difficult, assume a comparable posture (Swasthikasana or Sukhasana).
- Bend backwards and touch the ground with the back of your head while not changing the position of your legs.
- Use hands to give support to body so that your body doesn’t fall flat. While you lay backwards while keeping the legs as in padmasana, your body assumes the same of a fish, with the legs forming the tailfins. The back, shoulders, neck, most part of head and parts below knee will not touch the ground.
- Now extend your hands and grasp your big toes. Right hand grasps left big toe, which is on the left side of the body.
- Breathe slowly while in Matsyasana pose.
- Take hands backwards and place them on the ground as a support. Slowly raise your head and come to Padmasana pose
This asana improves digestion and strengthens the spine. It helps in asthma, diabetes, menstrual disorder and constipation.
- Lie flat on your back with legs and feet together, arms at the sides, closed and placed beside the thighs.
- Keeping your legs straight, inhale slowly, and raise your legs to 30, 60 and 90, pausing at each stage. While exhaling push your legs further over and above the head and then beyond, so that they touch the floor (without bending the knees).
- Stretch your legs as far as possible so that your chin presses tightly against the chest. Then raise your hands and try to hold the toes. Retain the pose from 10 seconds to three minutes. Breathe normally.
- While exhaling, return to the standing position. Slowly go through the process in the reverse order
The ‘Wheel Pose’ or Chakras Ana has derived its name, because of the peculiar shape the body takes, while performing the asana or pose.
- Lie on your back. Bends your legs at the knees and place them nearer to the hips.
- Place the palms by the sides of your head by bending the elbows and fingers towards your body.
- While inhaling, slowly raise your body upward, resting on the feet and the palms, thus curving the spine. Retain the pose for a few seconds and, breathing normally, gradually increase the duration.
- Concentrate on the spine. While exhaling slowly come back and rest in Shavasna for a while.
This posture decreases stiffness in the lower back, enlarges the chest, and strengthens the arms and shoulders. This Asana is also good to combat menstrual irregularities, and it helps relieve stress.
- Turn over on the stomach and place the hands on the floor beside the pectoral muscles.
- Place the hands, palms down, under the shoulders on the floor.
- Inhaling, without lifting the navel from the floor, raise the chest and head, arching the back. Obtain as complete a stretching of the body as possible.
- Retain the breath, and then exhale while slowly lowering to the floor. Rest, and then repeat two to seven times.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) is a mainstay of an asana practice. The pose stretches the spine, hamstrings and shoulders, encourages the free flow of the breath and stimulates the liver and kidneys.
- This posture involves stretching of the posterior muscles of the body.
- While sitting, stretch your legs forward and keep them close to each other. Bend a little forward, make hooks of your fingers and hold the big toes on the respective sides.
- While exhaling, bend forward stretching the trunk along the thighs. Rest your on the knees, which should be kept straight. 4. Gradually, the tense muscles can be made supple for securing the complete posture. Inhale and return to the original position