Yoga For Asthma (Or Anyone Who Wants to Breathe Deeply)

What’s happening in the physical body is often a manifestation of something deeper. For most people a build-up of memories and feelings get stored in the energetic body. Long-held beliefs about everything from our limitations to our fears make us carry our posture in a way that’s out of balance.

Asthma centers around the lungs, physically speaking. Emotionally, it’s related to the heart center. Feeling sad or heavy-hearted creates one of those mind-to-body postural connections, and for most it means the chest is not lifted. This may be clear and obvious in posture, or it may strictly be an inner emotional state. Either way, breathing is more difficult.

Dedicated Daily Practices

On an emotional level, showing up consistently for yourself and creating sacred space to honor how you feel goes a long way towards healing on all levels, not just with asthma.

  • What can you do daily to bolster your feelings of self-love?
  • Can you do more of what brings you joy and lightness?
  • How do you honor whatever hurt, grief or sadness you feel?
  • Do you have healthy ways of releasing feelings of fear, heavy-heartedness, unworthiness and other challenging emotions?

Creating Openness & Building Stamina

Yoga Poses
Reclining Cobbler’s Pose on a blanket.

Reclining Cobbler’s Pose on a blanket.

Creating space for the lungs and expansion in the chest is key to breathing more easily. Back bends are the perfect poses to do this.

During an attack, supported poses, where you lie over a block, bolster or blanket are good choices. Consider these:
  • Supda Baddha Konasana :: Reclining Cobbler’s pose
  • Setu Bandha :: Bridge pose, hips on a block
  • Lying over a rolled blanket under your shoulder blades.
To build the stamina to keep confident and open-hearted, you need to hold backbends rather than flow through them. It will help your lungs be stronger and your body be more of an open container for the breath. This is best done incrementally; start with 30 seconds and work up to anywhere between one and five minutes. Great poses for this are:
  • Poorvottanasana :: Upward Facing Plank
  • Ustrasana :: Camel pose
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana :: Wheel pose
  • Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana :: Upward Facing Dog pose

Virasana, south island New Zealand

You can also give your lungs more openness and build the inner strength to hold yourself up by doing seated poses. Try:

  • Dandasana :: Staff pose
  • Sukhasana :: Simple Cross Legs
  • Virasana :: Hero pose
  • Padmasana :: Lotus
Breathing Practices

Learn to get a steady rhythm with Ujjayi breathing on a daily basis. Practice it on its own, outside of your asana practice and on an empty stomach for best results.

You can do ujjayi pranayama seated, or lying down with a bolster long ways under your spine (hips on the floor). Work towards consistent, daily practice. The goal is to make your breath long, steady and slow.

When you begin this daily habit, commit to only one minute at first. Do that daily for a week, then add another thirty seconds to a minute. Do that new, increased duration for another week, then add on again. Work up to five minutes and you’ll be amazed at how you feel!