Yoga for Asthma | Yoga Therapy

Image: The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne -

Image: The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne -

I'm not asthmatic but this topic interests me because my older son is.  My son loves his cardio and team sports.  He plays basketball, soccer, tennis and swims. He also loves to dance and practises karate, too.  It's heartbreaking to see his performance being limited by his asthma, especially during his younger years.  He is now 7 and the asthmas seems to have progressively improved. But during the winter months, especially during his sleep, the coughing spells occasionally make their way back.  Yoga isn't something that my son likes to do at this point in his life but I'm certainly hoping to help his asthma by encouraging him to do 10-15 minutes of a tailored program (like the one below), especially as we enter into winter.  I hope this piece is interesting and helpful to you.  Feel free to leave me comments.


Asthma is a chronic lung dysfunction where the sufferer will experience difficulty in breathing resulting from the airways narrowing and swelling/inflamed, with more mucus. People with asthma experience periods of ‘flare-ups’, which brings on symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty in breathing and chest tightness.

There are various triggers for asthma flare-ups that range from slow development to the more acute, sudden onset of an asthma attack. The lung likes warm, moist and clean air so when one of these 3 components are disturbed is commonly when it triggers an asthma attack, such as cold air, exposure to allergen in the air (tobacco, pets, dust). Things that put pressure on the respiratory system can also trigger an attack, such as a cold or even exercise.

Research is inconclusive of the exact causes of asthma but shows family history, eczema, hay fever sufferers and babies exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing or having asthma.



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There are various pieces of research carried out on the benefits of yoga, with some showing it to be beneficial and others being inclusive. One 8-week study of 57 adult asthmatics revealed that those who did yoga showed a significant improvement in lung function and reduction in asthma symptoms than those who did not do yoga in the control group^. However, another recent study published by Annals of Allergy* concluded that yoga can only be considered an ‘ancillary intervention’ or alternative therapy, and not ‘routine intervention’. More importantly, yoga was not associated with adverse effects.

Both studies, though, are congruent to yoga therapy’s principles in that it is not ‘medical invention’ but a complementary program with the aim of relieving symptoms.

For the purposes of this project, we look into yoga therapy as a form of gentle exercise for asthmatics, in light of the fact that more strenuous physical activity may bring on asthma attacks. Breath work techniques can help asthma sufferers learn to cope with episodes of attack.



  1. When having respiratory system inflammations of any sort, e.g. bronchitis, cold, pneumonia, nasal congestion

  2. Avoid poses which require ‘flexion’ of the torso and ‘closing in’ of the chest such as, Boat pose, Head to Knee, Plow Pose and Seated Forward Fold.

  3. Avoid long, deep breathing or ‘oceanic’ breath if new to yoga and at the beginning of the practice. Let the body ease into deep breathing if comfortable.



In all poses, try to breathe in AND OUT through the nose to retain heat in the body. By doing so, it promotes correct diaphragm behaviour and persisting can often clear a chronic blocked nose.

  1. Easy Seated -> Relaxed and even belly breathing (2 minutes)

  2. Butterfly Pose -> Relaxed and even belly breathing for (2 minutes)

  3. Seated Twist

  4. Staff Pose

  5. Sage Pose

  6. Bridge Pose/Fish Pose

  7. Knees to chest

  8. Bow Pose/Cobra Pose

  9. Extended Childs Pose

  10. Downward Dog

  11. Hero Pose

  12. Corpse pose



  1. ^








  9. *

These suggestions offered on are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient. It is not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. Prior to starting any physical programs, it is advised to get clearance from a medical professional. Upon medical clearance, the suggestions and educational resources offered on are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment but not replace medical treatment.