If the recent explosion of California ragweed pollen has your asthma flaring up, you may be interested to know that many researchers think that yoga breathing exercises might be able to help reduce the severity of this common respiratory condition.
Across the nation, about 24.5 million people have asthma, according to the latest data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In California alone, nearly 3 million people have the condition.
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research came to the latter figure after surveying thousands of adults, teens and children. The organization found that severe asthma can be quite critical, resulting in more than 330,000 hospital visits in California each year.
So what can be done about this condition? Quite a few studies point to yoga breathing techniques as having the potential to improve respiratory well-being.
For instance, a report appearing in the journal The Lancet determined that regular yoga breathing activities appeared to improve the response of lung tissue to asthma attacks. Researchers estimated that, following the yoga-based intervention, it took significantly more histamine – the organic molecule that triggers inflammatory response – to result in an asthma attack.
Another study, this one published in the journal Thorax, determined that two weeks of yoga breathing therapy led to a modest reduction of symptoms.
The authors, a team of respirologists from the UK's Division of Respiratory Medicine in Nottingham, found that volunteers tended to experience less chest tightness and wheezing after doing the yoga breathing techniques. Likewise, participants reported using fewer puffs of bronchodilating spray each day.
A further study in the same journal came to similar conclusions, adding that patients who engaged in yoga breathing suffered from fewer asthma attacks and had a greater respiratory flow rate than those given traditional interventions.