Arrest the Asthma with these 6 Breathing exercises



Life on earth thrives on oxygen. Imagine a person gasping and panting for breath. Our heart reaches out to that person as they struggle to swallow gulps of air which we effortlessly inhale. 235 million people in the world suffer like this due to Asthma, according to the WHO. Nearly 1000 deaths from asthma can be prevented every year with timely medical treatments.

Facts about Asthma-Causes and symptoms

  • Asthma is a recurrent lung inflammatory disease that causes difficulty in breathing.

  • Asthma can only be controlled and not completely cured.

  • Deep Breathing exercises help to prevent and control asthma attacks by improving the lung function.

Causes of Asthma

  • Environmental allergens like dust, mites, mold or pollen.

  • Medications like Aspirin or Beta – blockers.

  • Irritant factors like extreme heat, cold or radiation

  • Psychological factors like stress.

Symptoms of asthma

  • Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and a tightening of the chest.

  • Severe asthma symptoms include breathlessness, inability to speak or breathe even while lying down, bluish lips, tight chest, hunched shoulders etc.

Breathing Exercises to Control Asthma

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Here you use the diaphragm which is a dome-shaped muscle below your chest to breathe.

  • Sit straight in a chair or lie down on your back with bent knees supporting a pillow under them.

  • Inhale slowly through your nose by moving your abdomen up without moving your chest.

  • Now exhale very slowly through pursed lips by moving your abdomen down.

  • Practise daily for 10-15 minutes.

2. Buteyko Breathing

This famous Breathing technique focuses on regulating the breathing rate or volume and is highly effective in controlling asthma.

  • Sit up with chest and belly relaxed and eyes closed with face up.

  • Exhale all the air from your lungs with a whoosh sound.

  • Now inhale slowly through your nose with your mouth closed to a count of 4.

  • Hold your breath for as long as you can until a count of 7.

  • Exhale very slowly through your mouth till the count of 8.

  • Repeat this 3-4 times for 4 breaths.

3. Physical movement Breathing

Here the exercise involves physical movements to relax tense muscles.

  • Close your eyes, relax and concentrate on breathing.

  • Focus on your breathing while doing forward curls.

  • Rotate your shoulders while focussing on breathing.

  • Raise your arms while focussing on your breathing.

  • Repeat this twice before opening your eyes.

4. Reduced breathing

This increases air distribution in lungs through slow breathing.

  • Sit with your legs crossed on the floor, face upwards and eye closed.

  • Relax your chest and belly and inhale slowly through your nose with mouth closed.

  • Take shallow breaths slowly.

  • Exhale through your mouth completely till there is no air left.

  • Hold your breath for a long time and get back to normal breathing.

5. Pursed Lip Breathing

Best for an asthma attack, this technique traps the air within the lungs making breathing easier.

  • Inhale slowly with nose and diaphragm keeping your mouth closed.

  • Purse your lips as if you are about to whistle.

  • Now exhale through pursed lips to a count of four.

6. Progressive relaxation Breathing

  • Lie on a bed or sit relaxed

  • Inhale slowly using diaphragmatic breathing

  • Tighten the muscles of the left foot, hold for 20 secs. and relax.

  • Repeat for right foot, upper legs, forearms, shoulders etc.

  • Focus on your breathing throughout.

Proper breathing techniques can definitely diminish the frequency of asthma attacks. These should be taught by a respiratory physiotherapist or trained physician for best results.


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