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Nagarathna R., Nagendra HR., and Seethalakshmi R.

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India. and Department of Pharmacology, Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore, India.

(Received original February 1991; revised October 1991)

Abstract : One hundred and ten episodes of airway obstruction in 86 bronchial asthmatics were treated by a special eight stepped yoga chair breathing procedure consisting of very simple neck muscle relaxation movements and asanas with breathing exercises. Seventy percent of the episodes have been successfully relieved within a mean time of 30 mts. The patients gained great confidence and tried this technique before resorting to drugs. The reduction in panic anxiety elements, cutting the vicious circle of aggravating bronchial obstruction appear to work in relieving the acute episodes.


The possibility of reversing the smooth muscle spasm without resorting to drugs in acute episodes of bronchial asthma has always interested several investigators. Clinical experience has often suggested that sitting quietly and/or relaxation during an acute attack is helpful and even a minor physical exertion worsens the distress. Alexander and team have shown significant increase in peak expiratory flow rate (PFR) after modified Jacobson's systematic relaxation training in asthmatics (1). Philip and colleagues have also reported effects of suggestion and relaxation in asthmatics (2). Goyeche reports that the patients during yoga therapy, learn to control the attacks (3). Shankardevaananda Saraswathi reports the use of Vaman Dhouti or Kunjal (a yogic stomach wash technique) in such episodes of asthma (4). However no systematic research study on application of yoga clinical practice has been done to our knowledge.

During and after yoga training sessions for patients of bronchial asthma, we have received similar reports of benefits. Based on such observations, a special yoga technique called yoga-chair breathing has been developed by us. The present study reports the results of a scientific study about the use of this special yogic technique during attacks in patients who were undergoing yoga training for bronchial asthma.

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