If asthma is stopping you from achieving your fitness goals, exercises that strengthen your lungs can be what it takes to regain some control. Many professional athletes have asthma and have found ways to overcome this challenge, so you're not alone in the struggle. Incorporating popular yoga breathing techniques is one approach you can use to control your condition.

Yoga Breathing Exercises

There's been a growing interest within the medical community about the benefits of yoga for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions. A study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting in 2009 focused on asthmatics who tried beginner yoga exercises (including relaxation and deep breathing) for a total of 2.5 hours a week over a 10-week period. This weekly commitment included a combination of yoga exercises performed in-class and at home. At the end of this time frame, the participants self-reported a significantly improved quality of life, as well as a meaningful reduction in asthma symptoms. Better yet, strategies employed through yoga allowed participants to manage their asthma symptoms without experiencing any of the side effects that commonly occur with increasing medication doses.

Because of the positive outcome of this study, some doctors are now encouraging asthma patients to use yoga breathing techniques. More research is now being conducted to better understand how breathing exercises can prevent and treat asthma. But so far, other studies done to date have found similar results, with participants even being able to head off an impending attack by altering their breathing patterns and seeking deeper relaxation using yoga strategies.

Exercise Your Own Breathing

If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can use the lessons learned to engage in your own yoga exercises. Look for classes through your health or fitness club, local YMCA, or yoga studio. Or buy a book or DVD and practice yoga breathing techniques at home. In addition to managing your asthma symptoms, you can also reap a variety of other health benefits including improved fitness levels and reduced stress. Just remember that when you try such an alternative approach, it's essential that you continue to follow your asthma action plan and take your control medications according to your doctor's directions.


American College of Sports Medicine

American Lung Association

University of Michigan-Kansas City