Yoga Helps Asthma Patients In 10 Weeks

yoga, asthma

Yoga Helps Asthma Patients In 10 Weeks

Adults with asthma reported increased quality of life and reduced asthma symptoms after 10 weeks of yoga practice, according to research presented today at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Yoga. The study followed 20 subjects age 20-65 who were beginners at yoga.

Subjects received one-hour yoga classes twice per week and were asked to practice an additional half-hour weekly at home, for a total of 2.5 hours per week. After initial warm-ups, deep breathing and stretching, the participants practiced yoga positions, or asanas. The goal was to hold poses during deep breathing. According to lead researcher Amy Bidwell, M.S., this replicates the stress of an oncoming asthma attack. Most previous research measured the acute effects of yoga on asthma -for example, after a single, two-hour session. This study, said Bidwell, looked at the effect of a 10-week training program.

Study participants completed St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire before and after the 10-week regimen to assess impacts on their overall asthma, daily life and perceived well-being. The results were impressive: participants’ scores on the questionnaire improved by an average of 42.5 percent.

For Bidwell, who began practicing yoga years ago as an alternative to back surgery and now is a certified instructor, the results were dramatic but not surprising.

“I have a number of friends with asthma ,” she said. “Many have side effects from taking medications such as corticosteroids. The main question was whether or not we could reduce their need for medication and improve their quality of life.”

Bidwell worked closely with a physician to design and conduct the study. He had been teaching breathing techniques to his patients. Based on the study results, he now is prescribing yoga practice as well.

Further research, said Bidwell, might include a larger sample size over a longer term. A 12-month study, for example, could incorporate the effect of changing seasons on participants’ symptoms. Bidwell said the current study supports the validity of yoga as a therapeutic tool.

“Modern medicine carries many side effects,” she said. “This is especially true with corticosteroids, which many asthma tics take for quick relief. Yoga is an excellent alterative because there are no side effects. It’s a natural, holistic discipline that can benefit a person’s body in many ways.”

American College of Sports Medicine