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Clinical Study of Yoga Techniques In University Students With Asthma: A Control Study

P. K. Vedanthan, M.D., * Lakshmayya N. Kesavalu, B.V.Sc., Krishna C.
Murthy, M.D.,* Kirby Duvall, M.D.,* Mary J. Hall, R.N.M.A,* Sheila Baker,
M.S.,* and S. Nagarathna, M.D.S


Abstract : Adult asthmatics, ranging from 19 to 52 years from an asthma and allergy clinic in a university setting volunteered to participate in the study. The 17 students were randomly divided into yoga (9 subjects) and nonyoga control (8 subjects) groups. The yoga group was taught a set of breathing and relaxation techniques including breath slowing exercises (pranayama), physical postures (yogasanas), and meditation. Yoga techniques were taught at the university health centre, three times a week for 16 weeks. All the subjects in both groups maintained daily symptom and medication diaries, collected A.M. and P.M. peak flow readings, and completed weekly questionnaires. Spirometry was performed each subject every week. Analysis of the data showed that the subjects in the yoga group reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude and better yoga exercise tolerance. There was also a tendency towards lesser usage of beta adrenergic inhalers. The pulmonary function did not vary significantly between yoga & control groups. Yoga techniques seem beneficial as an adjunct to the medical management of asthma. (Allergy and asthma proc 19: 3-9, 1998)

Yoga, an ancient Indian traditional, physical and meditation posture, is becoming popular throughout the world. Yoga is the process of elevating oneself through the process of calming the mind.1 Yoga helps in the development of the Physical2 Mental,, Emotional, Intellectual, and Spiritual growth. 1

Previous studies showed the efficacy of yoga therapy in various disorders such as asthma,3-16 hypertension,17-21 and diabetes.1.5 Datey et al. demonstrated that yogic exercise (savasana) significantly reduced blood pressure in hypertensive patients.17 Patel observed that yoga and biofeedback were effective in reducing resting blood pressure over a long period in hypertensive patients in England.19-21 A prospective investigation by Benson et al. in the United States showed the usefulness of the regular elicitation of the relaxation response in the management of hypertensive subjects 011 drug therapy.18 Goyeche et al. concluded that yoga therapy is very effective in patients with asthma followed over a 3-year period in a large university hospital in Japan.

Significant symptomatic improvement after yoga training for 9 months in patients with chronic severe airways obstruction was observed in Australia, 8 A decade ago both short and long-term prospective studies in India showed clearly the beneficial effects of yoga in the management of bronchial asthma.

Along with other nonpharmacological adjuncts to conventional therapy for bronchial asthma,22-26 yoga techniques have been shown to have a beneficial role in the management of asthma3,4,7-11. Our earlier pilot study (unpublished observation) in moderately severe outpatient asthmatics showed that performance of yoga techniques over a 20-week period resulted in a significant improvement of lung function, a reduction in theophylline intake, and a decrease in acute episodes.

In order to understand further the beneficial value of yoga techniques, the present study was designed to establish the efficacy of yoga in a clinically controlled situation with mild to moderate asthmatics.

From the * Northern Colorado Allergy Asthma Clinic, Fort Collins, Colorado, #University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas and Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India. Address Correspondence & reprint to the Dr. P.K.Vedanthan, Northern Colorado Allergy & Asthma Clinic, P.C., 1124 East Elizabeth, Fort Collins, CO 80524

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