Yoga for Asthma

When Sunita arrived at the ‘Asthma Camp’ at the Institute, that morning she was tense and uneasy. She had witnessed a grim scene on the way: a young girl had been knocked down by a train. Sunita was suffused with a morbid sense of her own mortality.

As the day drew on Sunita began to feel sure that an attack of asthma was imminent. Sunita began having trouble with her breathing. As she struggled for her breath, and tried to suppress her struggle, we took the opportunity to come to her assistance.

Firstly we made Sunita sit in a comfortable position, leaning on a table with her head on a pillow. When she was more relaxed she was instructed in a breathing exercise: Breathe in forcibly through one nostril, force air out through the mouth, hold breath for a few seconds, then repeat. Often asthmatics have a blocked nose, so the method is to breathe in through whichever nostril is clear. After ten rounds of this Sunita had somewhat recovered her breath, but the tightness in her chest remained. So she was given a hot water bag to place on her abdomen and throat and after five minutes of this we gave her a little warm water to drink.

Any warm liquid such as warm lime juice or soup serves as a decongestant, but warm water is ideal. Now Sunita was made to sit in the sun and practice ‘Nispandabhava.’ After ten minutes of this she had recovered considerably and was able to participate in the remainder of the camp in a better frame of mind. Many useful Asanas and Pranayamas were taught.

Of the guidelines that we routinely recommend, often people find that they follow one or the other and get miraculous relief.

Here are some simple suggestions for prevention of an Asthmatic attack:

  • Keep your head covered while sleeping.
  • Rise before the sun does. Sunrise, a time of temperature fluctuation, is a sensitive period for asthmatics and they should be active and not lying down.
  • When you get out of bed in the morning immediately put on a warm covering.
  • Bathe in warm water. Don’t go out right after bath. This applies especially to children. In fact children should be given their daily bath in the evening, since the morning is already a stressful time for them.
  • Do not walk barefoot in tiles as this causes loss of energy. Keep your feet warm. See that your body is always at the optimum temperature.
  • Avoid direct breeze on the face, as this causes a spasm and production of mucus in the sinuses.
  • If exposed to dust, keep your face covered and regularly practice ‘Jalneti.’


1. Put half a teaspoonful of salt into one glass of luke warm water.

2. Cup one hand. Pour this salted warm water in it and suck, through one nostril while blocking the other nostril with finger. Use each palm alternately for each nostril.

3. Allow water to escape through nostrils or mouth, repeat twice.

4. Blow nose of all water discharge, one nostril at a time.

5. Follow by Kapalbhati.

Warning: It is important to first learn and practice the above techniques under supervision of a trained teacher.

This post contains excerpts from the book:

To learn more, visit the Asana and Satkarma (Kriya) stalls as well as the experience session at the Exhibition during the World Householders’ Yoga Convention on 25th and 26th December 2012. Click here for more details of the event.

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