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Asthma is a common and complex respiratory condition which affects over 2.7 million children and adults in Australia. The symptoms of asthma can be triggered and exacerbated by exposure to multiple triggers including pollens, smoke, pollution, mould spores or dust which causes an acute tightening of airways, referred to as an 'asthma attack'.

Other physiological symptoms of asthma include inflamed, narrowed airway passages which produce excess mucus and consequently results in difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing.

Bronchodilators and steroids are used to manage asthmatic symptoms by opening airways however, many people are looking for safe alternatives to reduce their reliance on medications and have reported benefits from breathwork.

What is breathwork?

Breathwork has been gaining popularity amongst fitness and wellness circles over the last couple of years, but what exactly is breathwork? Put simply, breathwork is a modern name for the ancient yogic practice of controlled and intentional breathing exercises. 

It’s a broad term which encompasses a huge variety of breathing techniques designed to yield differing physical and emotional results. The techniques focus on specific areas of the respiratory system and include diaphragmatic breathing, Buteyko breathing, alternate nostril breathing, nasal breathing or simply varying the inhalation versus exhalation patterns.

Can breathwork benefit asthma sufferers?

Although breathwork research is still just in its infancy, the results for physiological and mental health are already looking very promising. Some general benefits of breathwork include:

  • Reduction of stress hormones
  • Increased duration of deep sleep/slow-wave sleep which is responsible for cell regeneration, energy restoration and immune support.
  • Improved mental clarity and focus
  • Increased lung capacity & strength of respiratory system

For those with asthma, a 2019 review of 22 studies involving 2880 participants concluded that breathing exercises may:

  • Improve the quality of life for asthma sufferers including the psychological impact of managing symptoms
  • Reduce hyperventilation symptoms
  • Positively improve lung function in adults with mild to moderate asthma

This is really exciting news for the asthma community, and we’re excited to follow the research developments in this area as they continue to unfold. We always recommend working with your healthcare provider to determine whether supplementary treatments can support your existing asthma care plan.

 

References:

Breathing exercises for asthma | European Respiratory Society (ersjournals.com)

Deep Sleep: Stages, Benefits, Requirements, Tips, and More (healthline.com)

National asthma indicators – an interactive overview, Indicator 1. Prevalence of asthma - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)

Breathing exercises for adults with asthma - PMC (nih.gov)