Abstract : Fifty three patients with asthma underwent training for two weeks in an integrated set of yoga exercises, including breathing exercises, suryanamaskar, yogasanas (physical postures),
Pranayama (breath slowing techniques), dhyana (meditation), and a devotional session, and were told to
practice these exercises for 65 minutes daily. They were then compared with a control group of 53 patients with asthma matched for age, sex, type and severity of asthma who continued to take their usual drugs. There was a significantly greater improvement in the group who practiced yoga in the weekly number of attacks of asthma, scores for drug treatment, and peak flow rate.
This study shows the efficacy of yoga in the long term management of bronchial asthma, but the physiological basis for this beneficial effect needs to be examined in more detail.
Yoga has been used to treat patients with asthma for over 50 years in yoga
centers in India. Goyeche et al and several other workers have shown convincing evidence of the beneficial effects of yoga in patients with bronchial asthma. Most of these studies were short term, performed without controls, or qualitative but based on subjective judgments. Our earlier investigation clearly indicated the short term (two to four weeks) benefits of yoga, as established by standard controlled studies on large numbers of patients who underwent yogic training as outpatients. Prospective long term studies using
standardized research procedures are however unavailable.
It is well known that the clinical course of a disease like chronic bronchial asthma is highly variable, being subject to many known and unknown factors. We carried out this long term study with matched controls to ascertain whether yoga could have lasting influence on the course of the disease.