Asthma patients who often have trouble breathing can heave a sigh of relief as a new study suggests asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, a tight chest and shortness of breath can be eased simply by practicing yoga.
The study suggests that Yoga has the potential to relieve both the physical and psychological suffering to an extent for asthma patients.
The findings by Cochrane Review, an international healthcare non-profit organisation, suggests yoga has a beneficial effect on asthma symptoms, helping asthma patients breathe better and improving their quality of life.
However, the review didn’t determine to what extent yoga helps in lung function or whether this centuries-old holistic therapy could replace medication use for relief.
A team of researchers, headed by Dr Zuyao Yang from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, analysed the results of randomised trials and found compelling evidence that practicing yoga could help asthmatics breathe better, improve asthma symptoms and overall quality of life of asthma sufferers.
Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to small improvements in asthma quality of life and symptoms,” said Yang.
“However, it is unclear whether yoga has a consistent impact on lung function and we do not yet know if yoga can reduce people’s medication usage, or if there are any side-effects of yoga for people with asthma,” Dr. Yang added.
For the review, the research team assessed the results of 15 randomised trials, most of which were conducted in India, followed by Europe and the US, involving 1,048 participants, both men and women with mild and moderate asthma.
All the participating patients, between six months and 23 years old, were asked to do yoga exercises including breathing, meditation and maintaining different postures for two weeks. Most participants continued with their usual medication while exercising Yoga.
The analysis found that yoga exercise probably soothes asthma symptoms to some extent and leads to small improvements in asthma quality of life. However, there was no clear evidence that practicing yoga improves lung function or reduces the need to take asthma medication. It was observed that yoga had a positive effect on every asthma patient, though the effect varied from participant to participant.
“Yoga could represent an additional option for people with asthma to relieve both physical and psychological studies,” the researchers noted.
Rebecca Normansell, deputy co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Airways Group added, “The findings of this Cochrane Review will help people make more informed choices about their future treatment options.”