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What are some breathing exercises that will help with my asthma?

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I dont have bad asthma, but it is seasonal and seems to be more chronic during the Spring. What are some ways that you exercise, and what are some breathing techniques you use to strengthen?
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replied March 24th, 2011
Hello, and thanks for your medical question on E Health Forum.

Asthma is a breathing disorder of the respiratory system, so poor breathing techniques can aggravate the symptoms of asthma. Breathing exercises involve manipulation of the breathing pattern and include deep breathing, relaxation sessions and other exercises.

If done regularly and properly, it would provide a simple self control by asthmatics.

The importance of breathing exercises is not well practised in the treatment of asthma. These exercises the patient can easily do for himself, and with a minimal amount of perseverance and energy, he can acquire the necessary control of the respiratory muscles, and thereby improve his condition to quite a large extent.

The aims of breathing exercises are:

1. To get back the natural and automatic diaphragmatic breathing, and not the thoracic type of breathing
2. To concentrate on exhalation especially at the commencement of an attack.
3. Increasing the flexibility of the chest wall and to relax the accompanying muscles of the respiratory system and
4. to correct other problems commonly associated with chronic asthma.

The main types of breathing exercises include:-

1. Pranayama (breathing exercises in yoga)

2. Buteyko (Russian method of breathing exercise followed in asthma)

Yoga is a powerful therapy widely used to reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks as well as decrease medication use. Consistent practice of yoga postures and pranayama (breathing exercises) increase the lung’s airflow, air capacity, stamina and efficiency.

Many preliminary pranayama breathing exercises have developed to enable one get relief from breathing problems and other allied diseases. For all Pranayama exercises (except Kapalabhati), the breath is slow and steady. Always sit with a straight spine and a relaxed body. While practicing Pranayama, keep mind free of any thoughts by only focusing on the breathing involved.

The success of Pranayama depends on proper ratios being maintained between inhalation, exhalation and retention An asthma patient is not supposed to do such practices independently.

Buteyko links hyperventilation to asthma, and is based on techniques to normalise breathing patterns, reversing symptoms and lessening the need for medication. This programme is simple and easy to follow as well as extremely effective.

Buteyko is about self-care. It enables one to take an active role in managing his condition. Buteyko has no negative side-effects and it does not require increasing doses of medication to stay in control. It removes almost entirely the symptoms of asthma.

You might consider to consult a physiotherapist and a yoga teacher for additional information and training for such exercises.

I hope this helps.

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