Asthma Management By Anantbodh Chaitanya
One of the first steps in managing asthma is for the affected person and their family and friends to understand all about asthma and how to manage it. It is also important to be properly diagnosed and have the severity of asthma determined by a doctor. With correct diagnosis and management, a person with asthma should be able to live an active, full life, controlling the asthma rather than the asthma controlling them.
Asthma is a disease that causes immense discomfort and suffering. The patient suffers from difficulty in breathing, suffocation, coughing etc. because the respiratory tracks inside the lungs contract due to asthma. As the inhaled air passes through contracted tubes with increased velocity, sounds like whistle can be heard while breathing. This is called ‘wheezing’. The respiratory tubes get narrowed and obstructed because of excessive secretion of thick phlegm. A highly aggravated condition of asthma is called Statutes Asthmatics. This can prove to be very severe and may even lead to death.
Causes of Asthma.
There can be many causes of asthma, the most prominent being hereditary, psychological, allergic reaction etc. Among physical causes the significant ones are pollution, medicines, dust, smoke, animal fur, wings of birds etc. When elders in the family like parents or ancestors have this disease, it is commonly found to also occur in children or young adults due to heredity. The psychological cause of asthma is also very important. Suppression or inhibition of negative emotions like jealousy, anger, hatred etc. also causes asthma. Fear of loneliness, need for love, excessive emotional or sensitive nature, fear of disrespect or disregard, hesitancy etc. are also reasons that can enhance susceptibility to asthma.
Asthma can also arise during change of seasons. Increased sneezing, hay fever, wheezy bronchitis and eosinophilia are found to transform into asthma with passage of time. Eosinophilia is even called ‘initial asthma’. Unhealthy food and undisciplined life style also produce asthma. Bread, cake, ghee, oily foods, milk and milk products can lead to asthmatic attack. In addition, less intake of fruits, vegetables, and natural grains is also considered as a cause.
How to manage asthma?
Yoga is a system inclusive of physical and mental training that can benefit people of all ages. It involves Asanas (body postures) and Pranayama (art of breath control), among which of its physical uses are to reduce stress-related conditions, help with circulatory and respiratory disorders such as Asthma and Bronchitis, and improve over-all health.
Here I am suggesting some helpful Yoga Asana (Postures) Mudras (Gestures), Marmas (Healing points in Body), Breathing practices and daily routine changes in our life style to manage asthma. These tips are very useful & beneficial.
Shat-Kriya (Cleansing Techniques).
Practice Kunjal and Neti using salted and warm water early in the morning. It is possible to cure asthma with these Kriyas because they help in liquefying and digesting the viscous and thick phlegm stuck on the mucous membranes.
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (Breathing Exercise).
Anuloma Viloma is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. In this Breathing Technique, you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril. Pranayama is the one of the eight limbs of “Hatha yoga”. Often it is considered as breathing exercise, but that perception is wrong as is the case with almost every other practice of Yoga. Every practice of yoga has a very subtle effect on human consciousness and does not limit only to physical health benefits. But still, we know that breath is very vital for sustaining life.
Yoga, the simplest natural cure for asthma is a popular and effective way to prevent you from the frequent occurrence of asthma attack.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana).
This is one of the classic Meditative Poses and is usually performed after doing the Corpse Pose. The Easy Pose helps in straightening the spine, slowing down metabolism, promoting inner tranquility, and keeping your mind still. Don’t let the name fool you. If you’re used to sitting in chairs, Easy Pose or Sukhasana can be quite challenging.
Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana).
The Sitting half spinal twist opens the chest and improves the supply of oxygen to the lungs, thereby reducing the probability of asthma restricting you. If done properly, the Half Spinal Twist lengthens and strengthens the spine. It is also beneficial for your liver, kidneys, as well as adrenal glands.
Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana).
The term Pavanamuktasana comes from the Sanskrit word ‘pavana’ which means air or wind and ‘mukta’ which means freedom or release. The Wind Relieving Pose works mainly on the digestive system. Specifically, it helps in eliminating excess gas in the stomach.
Butterfly pose (Badhakonasana).
The Butterfly pose stimulates and improves the blood circulation, relieves fatigue and has therapeutic effect on asthma.
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana).
The Cobra pose expands the chest, improves blood circulation and is highly recommended for people with asthma.
Fish pose (Matsyasana).
It is said that if you perform the fish pose in water, you will be able to float like a fish.
Upward plank pose (Purvottanasana).
The Upward plank pose improves the respiratory system, stimulates the thyroid gland and also strengthens wrists, arms, back and spine.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana).
The Corpse Yoga Pose is considered as a classic relaxation Yoga Pose and is practiced before or in between Asanas as well as a Final Relaxation. While it looks deceptively simple, it is actually difficult to perform.
Many people hold tension in their necks and shoulders, leading to stiffness, bad posture, and tension headaches. Yoga practice can ease tension, increase flexibility, and tone the muscles. This section covers the steps on how to practice Shoulder Lifts.
There are three parts to proper relaxation – physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. Relaxation Yoga Pose relaxes your body and mind, and makes you feel refreshed after doing the asanas and the pranayamas. This is why it is an essential part of Yoga practice.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation).
Practice these slowly and with conscious attention to breathing. Increase the practice to seven rounds at sunrise.
Step 1 (Prayer pose)
Stand at the edge of your mat, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both the feet. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
Step 2 (Raised Arms pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the objective is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers. To get maximum benefits, you may pull the pelvis forward and ensure reaching up with your fingers rather than going backwards.
Step 3 (Hand to Foot pose)
Breathing out, bend forward from the waist, keeping the spine erect. As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor, beside the feet.
Step 4 (Equestrian pose)
Breathing in, push your right leg back, as far back as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and look up.
Step 5 (Stick pose)
As you breathe in, take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line and keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.
Step 6 (Saluting with eight points or parts)
Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. Take the hips back slightly, slide forward, rest your chest and chin on the floor. Raise your posterior a little bit .The two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and chin (eight parts of the body) should touch the floor.
Step 7 (Cobra pose)
Slide forward and raise the chest up into the cobra posture. You may keep your elbows bent in this pose, the shoulders away from the ears. Look up. As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward; as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under. Ensure you’re stretching just as much as you can; do not force.
Step 8 (Mountain pose)
Breathing out, lift the hips and the tail bone up, chest downwards in an ‘inverted V’ (/\) posture. If possible, try and keep the heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to lift the tailbone up, going deeper into the stretch.
Step 9 (Equestrian pose)
Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands, left knee down to the floor, press the hips down and look up and place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf perpendicular to the floor. In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch.
Step 10 (Hand to foot pose)
Breathing out, bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend the knees, if necessary. Gently straighten the knees and if you can, try and touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing.
Step 11 (Raised Arms pose)
Breathing in, roll the spine up, hands go up and bend backwards a little bit, pushing the hips slightly outward. Ensure that your biceps are beside your ears. The idea is to stretch up more rather than stretching backwards.
As you exhale, first straighten the body, and then bring the arms down. Relax in this position; observe the sensations in your body.
Mudras are very useful for the treatment of asthma as they have an impact on the biological map on the brain of a person. Medical science calls it the homunculus man. This is sought to be manipulated through the mudras in order to produce a positive effect on your autonomous nervous system, which controls your heart rate and breath rate. With the help of these mudras, you can gain control over your heart and breath rate, which is not the easiest thing to achieve.
There are two mudras in Yoga that are very useful for the asthma condition. These are called the asthma mudra and the bronchial mudra.
- Bronchial Mudra
Place the little finger at the base of the thumb, the ring finger on the upper thumb joint, and the middle finger on the pad of the thumb. Extend the index finger.
During an acute attack of asthma before patient is taken to hospital for nebulization with deriphyline & dexamethasone, one can make the patient to perform this mudra which helps in dilatation of the bronchial tube thereby naturally combating an attack of asthma. This could prove to be lifesaving.
- Asthma Mudra
Asthma mudra is a special mudra to relieve an asthmatic attack. Regular practice of this mudra helps to reduce the bad effects asthma.
Press together finger nails of the middle fingers and keep others fingers extended. This mudra relaxes the smooth muscles that line the respiratory tract. With the bronchial spasm thus relieved, the breathing becomes easier. This mudra helps to treat as well as prevent attacks of asthma. This mudra has to be practiced 4-5 times a day for at least 7-10 minutes. After performing the Bronchial Mudra to ease acute attacks, asthma patients will also find it useful to perform the ‘asthma mudra’ as a long term treatment for avoiding the recurrence of acute attacks of asthma.
Fast for at least one whole day in a week. If that is not possible, skip at least one evening meal. Drink a lot of water. In one glass of warm water, mix the juice of half a piece of lemon and two spoons of honey, and drink. Along with that, boiled and cooled solution (kadha) of lemon juice, agya-ghas, tulsi, ginger and black pepper can be taken.
The general lifestyle involved in Yoga serves as a good therapy for respiratory problems. A healthy diet can build your resistance against cold, allergies, and other environmental causes of Asthma, Bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory disorders. It also promotes a non-smoking lifestyle.
‘Nasya’ is an Ayurvedic practice that encourages nasal administration of medicinal herbs, decoctions and oils. Commonly such treatments are known to clear sinus congestion, help clear accumulated toxins from head and neck region. However in Ayurveda the purpose of Nasya and many different application of Nasya are used for therapeutic purposes. For therapeutic purposes medicated ghee and oils.
In Ayurveda Nasya is considered one of the most important holistic self-care that encourages internal detoxification. Many Vaiya’s consider Nasya as a part of Ayurvedic Daily Routine and conducts in every day by putting 3-5 drops of warm ghee or sesame seed oil into each nostril in the morning. Nasya helps to lubricate the nasal passage, clean out mucus and sinuses, improves voice, mental clarity and vision. It is believed in Ayurveda that the nose is the pathway to our brain. Therefore conducting Nasya improves intelligence and memory.
If you suffer from Asthma the following marma points can help alleviate the symptoms.
Murdhni – on the crown of the head.
Nasa Agra – in the small groove on the tip of the nose.
Nasa Puta – on both sides of the nose where the nostrils begin to flair out at the end of nose.
Kapola Nasa – on both side of the nose where the nostrils connect to the face at end of nose.
Krikatika – 1 finger width on each side of C2 spinous process.
Kantha – midline in the depression above hyoid bone.
Kanthanadi – midline in the suprasternal fossa.
Jatru – center of manubrium sternum.
Kakshadhara – in the delta pectoral groove at the level of the 1st intercostal space.
Hridya – 1 finger width lateral of sternum in intercostal space of ribs 3, 4, and 5.
Hridayam – on sternum at the level of the 3rd intercostal space.
Agra Patra – in center of xiphoid process.
Parsha Sandhi – on tips of 11th rib.
Amsa Phalaka – middle of infraspinatus fossa on shoulder blades.
Urdhva Skandha – on top of upper trapezius in the middle.
Amsa – center of acromion on shoulder joints.
Adhah Skandha – lateral arm in center of middle deltoid.
Tarjani – on lateral edge of nail bed of 2nd finger.
Janu anterior – on center of patella.
Janu posterior – midline on popliteal crease.
Just gently press on the points for 30 seconds to 1 minute or massage the points with a little massage oil. You also can gently tap on the points to stimulate energy flow.
- Avoid cold and damp places.
- Go for morning or evening walk, do yoga mainly ‘Pranayama’.
- Avoid overeating. Take light dinner one hour before going to bed.
- Avoid Tobacco, wine and smoking.
- Keep rooms well ventilated.
- Avoid air conditioners, coolers and direct air of fan.
- Avoid too much perfumes, Agarbatti (Scented incenses) Mosquito repellents.
- Drink boiled water in plenty.
- Avoid over exercise and over indulgence in sex.
Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about ancient tradition of Yoga. These information will be helpful to manage asthma but in some cases it is not total cure. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively.