Friday, March 8, 2013

Aborting or Preventing an Attack of Asthma by Relaxation Exercises

The conventional treatment of asthma with drugs has extensively been changed during the last 20 years. Modern therapy of asthma is fully reliable to prevent or to abort an attack of asthma but we should not ignore the ancillary advice of yoga experts. It is eminent to mention here that customized breathing exercises propagated by yoga experts are also a reliable method to abort or to prevent an attack of asthma. It is more important to learn that how to relax respiratory muscles and thereby make it easier for lungs to overcome an attack of asthma. In fact, general relaxation of all voluntary muscles of the body, practised daily, also helps.

The essential abnormality in asthma is the narrowing down of the bronchi (the breathing tubes of the lungs). The patient feels uncomfortable when passage of air through these narrowed bronchi becomes difficult. The patient should not panic at this time of distress rather try to relax. Our respiratory process has two components: 1) Inspiration and 2) Expiration. Inspiration is an active process, the chest muscles expand the chest and the air is sucked in. The expiration is achieved by allowing the chest muscles to relax like gently deflating an air filled balloon. In normal health we do not have to force the air out during expiration.

In the case of asthma, the inspiration (breathing in) needs palpable and visible effort due to narrowing of bronchi but greater difficulty arises in expiration (breathing out). An asthmatic, therefore tries to force the air out and in this process the bronchi get even more narrowed. The asthmatic has thus to put in even more vigorous effort to empty out the lungs. This explains why in case of asthma the lungs stay inflated. The struggle involved in breathing in during an attack of asthma, brings into action all the respiratory muscles that stay relaxed during the normal breathing. The tension spreads to the upper abdominal muscles (muscles of the tummy) causing abdominal distension during an attack of asthma. The muscles of the bronchi are involuntary muscles that do not obey orders like voluntary muscles of our limbs, chest wall and elsewhere. The drugs used to treat asthma have a powerful action on the involuntary muscles that have constricted the lumen of bronchi (the breathing tubes). So, the secret of treating an attack of asthma is to open up the narrowed breathing tubes by relaxing their muscles.

Relaxation Exercises:

  1. One should avoid tension by thinking away from asthma and thus try to relax the mind. Intended relaxation of mind by sitting calm with closed eyes for 10 minutes twice daily would be beneficial. After relaxation exercise one should gradually and peacefully shift to routine assignments.
  2. One should not try to breathe rapidly but try to slow down the process and take deeper breaths. Your deliberate effort to regulate the process of breathing would bring you relief from unpleasant symptoms of over-breathing.
  3. One should allow the lungs to relax before taking the next breath in and should not try to force emptying of the lungs during an attack of asthma.
  4. One should learn to breathe with the chest muscles and also use the upper part of abdomen. If you distend your tummy along with your chest during inspiration and pull in tummy during expiration, that would exercise your diaphragm muscles and make you feel more comfortable. As one tries to take a long breath, one should try to keep the upper chest muscles relaxed and gently distend the abdomen (tummy). If an asthmatic practises this technique during asymptomatic periods, it would minimize the severity of an attack.
  5. Relaxation techniques should be learnt and practised when one is symptom free.
  6. Yoga offers excellent 'asanas' (sitting postures) to achieve relaxation of muscles.
  7. If the attack of asthma is eminent in spite of your best efforts to prevent or abort it, immediately take a dose of drug prescribed by your treating physician.