If you do yoga breathing exercises as part of your daily or weekly workout regimen, you may be doing your body a big favor. Breathing slowly and deeply may reduce blood pressure, bring down your heart rate and open up your body's energy channels. Also, research has shown that yoga breathing benefits some people with pulmonary conditions.
An investigation conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that yoga may be safe and healthy for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
These results, which appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM), were based on data collected from 29 elderly patients with the lung condition, some of whom were given a 12-week course of yoga-based interventions.
COPD is a progressive disease that causes shortness of breath, a feeling known as dyspnea. Most cases of the condition are caused by prolonged exposure of the lung tissue to irritants, the most common of which is cigarette smoke, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Over time, people with COPD find it harder to take deep breaths because their lung tissue is stiffened, damaged or coated with mucus, the agency adds.
While traditional medical treatments are typically used to treat the source of the problem, yoga breathing exercises may help patients with COPD overcome episodes of dyspnea and become more mobile.
In the JACM study, people with COPD were led through yoga postures and guided breathing sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Researchers found that those tutored in the art of yoga breathing experienced moderate reductions in the severity of dyspnea, as well as mild improvements in walking speed, muscular strength and health-related quality of life.
Though it approaches the problem in a very different way, yoga breathing is done for the same reason that patients take bronchodilators or use inhalers – namely, to open up the lung's passageways and facilitate calm, full, deep breaths.