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Preliminary studies of Yoga Therapy for Bronchial Asthma

R. Nagarathna*

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India


Summary

Preliminary studies to ascertain the efficacy of Yoga therapy in the treatment of bronchial asthma and to develop suitable set of yogic practices are presented in this report.

The data clearly indicates a significant qualitative improvement in all the following parameters:

1. Severity of attacks
2.   Duration of attacks
3.   Attacks per week
4. Nasal Allergy and
5.   Medication

This work has paved way to more systematic research to establish the efficacy of Yoga therapy in the treatment of bronchial asthma.

Introduction

The past few decades have revolutionized the pattern of life of man in the whole world. The life is geared to the growth of civilization characterized by material prosperity at the cost of mental peace and physical health. Notwithstanding the tremendous advancements made in the field of modern medical science and the understanding of the human system, new diseases have cropped up continuously challenging the advent of new drugs. Disorders of the psychosomatic type have posed greater challenges than ever to medical researchers who have started slowly realizing the limitations of the somatic approach. Yoga is prominent amongst the new principles and techniques available for treating such problems on a holistic basis. Although yoga has been used in India over centuries for treating diseases, it is gaining recognition in the modern medical field as a special line of treatment only over the last decade. Now, there is scientific evidence3, 6 for the beneficial effects of Yogic practices for some stress induced disease like high blood pressure,4, 10 bronchial asthma1, 2, 5 anxiety neurosis7, insommia8, etc.

Yoga is a system for the complete development of the personality12 - physical, mental, intellectual, vital and spiritual - of a human being. It is a methodical, conscious effort towards self perfection by the unfoldment of the latent potentialities in an individual. In practice, it is a technique of calming down of the mind. It is the hypersensitivity and psychological conflicts leading to emotional upsurges that cause great stresses at the subconscious level. This may percolate in to the physical frame manifesting as diseases. 3, 6, 8 Hence, Yoga in its general methodology of perfecting an individual, through removal of stresses, contains the therapeutic aspects of treating such stress induced diseases. Bronchial asthma, characterized by episodic airway obstructions with intervals of complete normalcy is a well recognized psychosomatic ailment. Reported herein is the preliminary observations in the use of Yogic practices for the treatment of bronchial asthma using an integral technique of physical exercises and Yoga posture (asanas), breathing practices and Pranayama, cleansing processes (Kriyas) and meditation.

Yoga Asanas as distinguished from physical exercises are special physical postures congenial for calming down the mind and for developing stability of the nervous system and the power of forbearance. Prana is the inner vital life entity and Pranayama is to gain control over Prana. While simple breathing practices help to normalize the shallow, haphazard breathing. Pranayama uses certain slow breathing Pranayama rhythms and pattern to tranquil the mind and to reduce the metabolic rate and strengthen the respiratory and nervous systems. Kriyas are techniques developed in Yoga to cleanse the interior of the body like nasal passages, alimentary tract etc. They also activate and revitalize the internal organs. Meditation is a direct method of calming down the mind and allowing the mind to stay in a single thought. Deep relaxation, freshness and alertful rest are the characteristics of meditation. An appropriate combination of these practices provides a simple and effective tool to solve ones own psychological conflicts and attenuate the emotional upsurges. Thus, the deep rooted subconscious stresses causing ill-effects on the some are erased.


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