Among the many health benefits of exercise is natural asthma relief. But people with asthma may find some forms of physical activity challenging if they experience exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. That’s why yoga is catching on among people with asthma. Yoga is an all-around stress-relieving technique with gentle stretches and a slower pace than other workouts. Even better, recent research revealed specific benefits from yoga for asthma relief. In an eight-week study of 57 adults with asthma, those in the yoga group showed a significant improvement in lung function and a reduction in asthma symptoms when compared with a control group. “The myriad benefits [that] activity brings are just as important for persons who live with asthma as for anyone else,” says Constantine Saadeh, MD, director of Allergy ARTS (Asthma, Rheumatology Treatment Specialists) in Amarillo, Texas. To incorporate yoga into your natural asthma relief plan, start with these recommended poses.
2 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Savasana
Tamal Dodge, a yoga instructor and star of the DVD “Element: Hatha & Flow Yoga for Beginners,” recommends the savasana pose for asthma relief because of the breath andstress management it provides.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your feet and palms dropped open. Close your eyes and soften your jaw, taking your focus inward. Start to focus your attention on your breath and slow it down, making it deep and rhythmic, relaxing every part of your body. Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 minutes, maintaining slow, even breathing.
3 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Sukasana
Dodge says that the sukasana pose is another relaxing pose for natural asthma relief. Just like savasana, its focus on breath and stress control makes it a great exercise to help asthma and lung function in particular.
How to do it: Start seated, with your legs crossed. If you feel some discomfort in your hips or lower back, roll up a towel and place it under your sitz bone (tailbone) for extra support. Take your right hand and place it on your heart, place the left hand on your belly, and close your eyes. Draw in the stomach and lift the chest for good posture. Let out your breath slowly and hold the pose for 5 minutes, with slow, even breathing.
4 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Forward Bend
Dodge says this bending pose can open up the lungs for natural asthma relief.
How to do it: Stand with your legs hip-width apart, fold your body forward, and put a little bend in the knees to relieve any strain in the lower back. Fold your arms, holding each elbow with the opposite hand, and let your body hang as you take five deep breaths with your eyes closed.
5 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Butterfly
The butterfly is a popular relaxing yoga pose that can bring asthma relief, which makes it another top stretching exercise to help with asthma.
How to do it: Sit with the soles of your feet together and your knees dropped out to the sides — picture your legs as two butterfly wings. Hold your ankles and pull your heels into your hips. Inhale deeply and, as you exhale, fold your body forward. You can use your elbows to press down your knees a bit more. Hold this pose as you take five deep breaths.
6 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Straddled Splits
This yoga pose for asthma relief involves stretching out the upper body and opening up the lungs.
How to do it: Sit with your legs straddled wide apart and your heels flexed. Firm the thighs, and follow with a big inhale as you reach your arms up. As you exhale, fold your body forward, walking your hands out in front of you. Hold this pose as you take five deep breaths.
7 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Bridge
Beth Shaw, founder of YogaFit Training Systems, says the bridge is a great yoga pose for asthma relief because because it helps open the lungs.
How to do it: To begin, lie flat on your back with your arms parallel with your body. Bend your knees and slide your feet toward your butt until your feet are directly under your knees; then lift your butt up off the floor. Think of lifting your tailbone upward toward the ceiling and bringing your thighs parallel with the floor. At the same time, your shoulder blades should be pressed in toward your back, expanding your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and exhale as you gently lower your spine to the ground.
8 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Supportive Fish
The funny-sounding “supportive fish” is another exercise to help asthma that Shaw recommends for natural asthma relief. She says this pose is good for the health of your bronchial tube.
How to do it: Start by placing a thin, rolled-up towel under your mid-back (for women, at the bra strap line) and a thicker rolled-up towel behind your neck. When the towels are in place and you’re on your back, the bridge of your nose should be aligned with your chin. Extend your legs straight out, relax your feet, and rest your arms at a 45-degree angle from your hips, with palms upward. Simply relax and breathe in this position.
9 / 9 Yoga for Asthma Relief: Pranayama
Finish your yoga routine with pranayama, a simple breathing pose that makes a great exercise to help asthma.
How to do it: Pranayama is simplicity itself. Sit with the legs crossed and the spine, neck, and head in a straight line. Close your eyes and focus on breathing using your abdomen, following a few rapid breaths with some slower breaths for balance. Repeat for a few minutes, focusing on technique, to get