Yoga Rx for Asthma

Published on April 12, 2003

Asthma is a chronic condition effecting over 20 million Americans that causes acute attacks of coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness. Modern medicine has no cure for this disease and 90 percent of asthmatics rely upon pharmaceuticals to prevent and relieve symptoms. The symptoms of asthma are created by a narrowing of the lung’s airways that become further constricted by an increase of mucus and inflammation in their lining. Asthma can be triggered by allergies, exercise, cold air, pollution and stress.

Several studies have shown yoga to be a powerful adjunct therapy to reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks as well as to decrease medication use. Consistent practice of yoga postures and pranayama (breathing exercises) increases the lung’s airflow, air capacity, stamina and efficiency. Back bending postures open the chest improving both lung and heart functioning. Practice upper back bends and chest opening postures if it is harder to exhale during asthma attacks. Practice forward bends and lower back bending poses if it is more difficult to inhale. Inverted postures drain excess mucus from the lungs and balance the immune system. A general yoga practice reduces stress, physical tension, and muscle tightness and increases overall feelings of well being by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

pranayama cultivates the ability to maintain a relaxed and controlled breath that can prevent or reduce asthma attacks. pranayama exercises should be practiced according to what usually triggers the asthma attacks. Dirga pranayama is for all conditions and will encourage slow deep breathing patterns. For stress and emotional upsets use Nadi Sodhana, for asthma triggered by cold air practice Ujjayi pranayama, and for allergic arthritis use Sit Cari or Shitali pranayamas. To help strengthen the lungs and reduce mucus congestion use Kapalabhati pranayama, practicing it very slowly and gently in short durations.

Yoga is not a substitute for conventional western medication; please consult your medical professional before starting a yoga practice.

A complete list of yoga poses for asthma is available at:

Share with


Our Latest

Yoga Articles
  • Benefits of Chanting Om

    9 Powerful Benefits of Chanting the Om Mantra

  • gratitude breathing exercise

    Elevate Your Spirit With a Gratitude Breathwork Practice

  • Hot Yoga at Home

    Can You Practice Hot Yoga at Home?

  • Saying Thank You to a Yoga Teacher

    12 Ways to Say Thank You to a Yoga Teacher

  • Yoga for Thanksgiving

    Yoga for Thanksgiving: 10 Asanas for Gratitude

  • Siddhis

    Siddhis: Definition, Types, Tips and Dangers

  • Spiritual Health and Wellness

    12 Yogic Ways to Cultivate Spiritual Health and Wellness

  • Bhakti Yoga

    Bhakti Yoga: the Yoga of Devotion

Remove Ads with a

Premium Membership

Viewing ads supports YogaBasics, which allows us to continue bringing you quality yoga content. Sign up for a premium membership to remove all ads and enjoy uninterrupted access to the best yoga resources on the web.

Explore More

Yoga TipsAdviceArticlesPracticesBasicsTechniques

  • yoga pose symbol

    5 Popular Yoga Poses And What They Symbolize

  • Yoga for Your Body Shape

    Find the Best Yoga for Your Body Shape

  • yoga with a beginners mind

    9 Ways to Practice Yoga with a Beginner’s Mind

  • Daily Yoga Routine at Home

    8 Tips to Maintain a Daily Yoga Routine at Home

  • Yoga Weight Loss Plan

    7 Ways To Add Yoga To Your Weight Loss Plan

  • yoga and supplements

    The Best Supplements to Improve Your Yoga and Life

  • Yoga for exercise

    Is Yoga Enough for Your Exercise and Fitness Needs?

  • yoga stretching exercise

    Yoga vs. Stretching: What’s the Difference?

  • yoga skin care tips

    7 Essential Skin Care Tips Every Yogi Should Know

2 responses to “Yoga Rx for Asthma”

  1. brightside Avatar

    I am an asthmatic and new to yoga. I found this article to be very informative. Thank you!

  2. Harsh lata Avatar
    Harsh lata

    Want to know good breathing exercises for allergy and asthma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
Yoga Basics