During an asthma attack you can have difficulty catching your breath. In fact, at times it can feel like you are suffocating.
Asthma comes from the Greek word for “panting.” If you have had an asthma attack, you know just how uncomfortable the feeling is.
Asthma is a life-long lung disease that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. It causes the lungs to be overly sensitive.
During an asthma attack the airways that lead into the lungs become smaller and narrower. This makes it hard to allow air to pass into the lungs. The muscles in the airways constrict and make the airways even smaller.
Finally, any particles in the air cause mucous cells to secrete mucus which also blocks the airways, preventing air movement into the lungs.
The combination of all this creates tightness and constriction in the chest, difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.
The most common treatment for asthma is using an inhaler, which provides temporary relief for asthma symptoms, especially in the early moments of an attack. It is easy for an inhaler to be overused.
People used to use inhalers round the clock, but this has been determined to be harmful. Only use them as needed along with any other regular treatments or medications, according to current recommendations.(3)
Doing yoga may be a way to reduce the need for those inhalers as you practice methods that help strengthen your lungs, improve your breathing and induce relaxation to help avoid asthma attacks.
People look towards yoga to help with breathing exercises. When you have asthma it is important to realize that retraining your breathing can affect breathing problems too.
If you are interested in trying breathing techniques you have to start slowly and build up over time. This is the best way to use these breathing techniques. If you feel uncomfortable stop the exercises and rest.
Barbara Benagh, a yoga instructor and former asthmatic recommends these five exercises.
Exercise 1: Deep Relaxation Breathing
Lie down and practice belly breathing, checking in with how you are feeling.
1) Learning to Breath Again: An Asthmatics Guide To Retraining Breathing Patterns. Yogajournal.com May 24, 2016.
2) "What Is Asthma?." - NHLBI, NIH. N.p., n.d. Web. May 24 2016.
3) Donald W. Cockcroft. As-Needed Inhaled β2-Adrenoceptor Agonists in Moderate-to-Severe Asthma. Therapy In Practice Treatments in Respiratory Medicine. June 2005, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 169-174.
First online: 23 August 2012 at