Yoga: For your lungs?

Yoga: For your lungs?

The wonders of yoga have long been shown to enhance mental, physical and spiritual wellness. If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from a lung disease such as COPD, asthma or lung cancer, investing in a yoga mat may be your next best move.

A study published in the journal Chest which involved 60 patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) found that yoga is as effective in pulmonary rehabilitation as traditional or standard methods. Researchers discovered participants who performed yoga exercises experienced improvement with inflammatory markers, lung function and overall quality of life.

The American Lung Association (ALA) says yoga is a safe exercise option for patients who have difficulty breathing. The ALA says even simple breathing exercises, performed daily, can have a significant impact on people with lung disease – not to mention the mental benefits of yoga and mindful meditation, as lung diseases are often accompanied by anxiety, depression and stress.

Dr. Rizwan Malik, a pulmonologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., says, “Chronic lung diseases affect the utilization of muscles. Since exercise requires optimal in-sync function of heart, lungs and muscles, yoga can improve exercise capacity and duration with improvement of oxygen utilization at muscle level. Exercises like yoga can enhance the feeling of well-being and have even shown to decrease hospital admission in patients with COPD.”

Registered Yoga Teacher Sheila Lazier at Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center in Bloomington, Ill., adds that practicing yoga can help to develop strong and flexible muscles of respiration.

“A yoga practice can reverse changes to the body due to aging, physical habits, injuries, etc. that negatively impact our ability to breathe. These include structural changes to muscles and fascia of the chest as well as the chest wall bones and thoracic spine,” she says.

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About the Author

Lauryn Oleson
Lauryn Oleson

Lauryn Oleson is a public affairs intern at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. She studies public relations with a focus in psychology at Illinois State University. As a Bloomington native, Lauryn grew to love health and wellness by learning from her mom, Carolyn, who is a registered nurse at BroMenn. Lauryn enjoys playing sports, spending time with friends and volunteering for Young Hearts for Life. She hopes to continue her career in PR and health care in the future.