Yoga is an important way to keep oneself healthy. Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word “yuj" which means to add, to join or to unite. Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India. It includes specific techniques such as yoga asanas (postures), breathing practices (pranayamas) and meditation.
Yoga is known to have considerable health benefits like improving cognition, breathing capacities, improve immunity, decrease the risk of joint disorders, blood pressure and diabetes. There are various studies suggesting improve the metabolism of glucose, lipids, and lung functions. There are numerous breathing exercises in yoga which not only build your lung strength but also help to relieve stress and optimise oxygen-enriched blood flow in the body.
The exercise primarily is Pranayama, Shashankasana and Pranamasaana. Pulmonary rehabilitation is beneficial in chronic respiratory diseases especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It relieves breathlessness and fatigue, improves emotional function and enhances the self-confidence of the patient. Pulmonary rehabilitation program consists of a multi-prong approach involving non-pharmacotherapy measures to improve exercise capacity and reduce the effect of loss of lung function. Exercise is an important component of the Pulmonary rehabilitation program. The exercises are primarily of upper extremity & respiratory muscles. Yoga consists of exercises and meditation. Though there are not too many studies to substantiate long-term effects of Yoga training, current evidence suggests that Yoga training has a positive effect on improving lung functions and exercise capacity when used as an adjunct to a pulmonary rehabilitation program in COPD patients.
Yoga in COPD & Asthma:
COPD is an important cause of morbidity and mortality and is a major public health problem. It is predicted to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020. This disease involves irreversible airway obstruction in the lungs and a gradual decline of lung functions by lung destruction decreased quality of life and subsequent death. One of the important interventions decreasing death rates in COPD is pulmonary rehabilitation program. Pranayama practices improve the autonomic nervous system by vagal stimulation and thereby decreasing parasympathetic dominance. It also modifies inflation and deflation reflexes of lung and interacts with the central nervous system to bring in various changes in the body which benefit health. In a study, it was found that there was a consistent and progressive improvement of lung functions. There was a significant improvement in FEV1, peak expiratory flow rate and a significant decrease in exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, Asthma Quality of Life Scores (AQLS) in the Yoga group compared with the control group. A further study concluded that yoga decreases weekly attacks of Asthma and improves symptom scores for drug treatment. In COPD patients, yoga improves St. George Respiratory Questionnaire, vital capacity, maximal inspiratory pressure, maximal expiratory pressure and quality of life