Can Yoga Help When You Have COPD?
Many people who suffer from COPD find it hard to exercise. But not exercising worsens their lung condition rapidly, which makes it even more difficult to perform any kind of activity. This way they find themselves in a vicious circle where they feel there is no escape from. Especially for these people yoga is the best exercise, as it is a low impact activity that improves your physical as well as your emotional health. It reduces stress and anxiety, increases relaxation and self-confidence, and improves fitness in general.
Yoga can help relieve the symptoms of COPD
Yoga has its roots in Eastern philosophy, and many people still think it is mainly a spiritual and religious experience. But most yoga classes for people with health problems do not focus on this at all. It is mainly a “mind-body practice”, as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine describes it., which is especially beneficial for people with COPD. The American Journal of Therapeutics published a study performed in 2012, that showed these benefits clearly. In this study, a group of 33 COPD patients followed a yoga class given by a certified yoga therapist for six weeks in sessions of one hour, three times a week. They were taught yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. After the six weeks, the medical tests showed an improvement in lung function and the patients themselves reported that their overall quality of life had improved significantly.
Yoga offers various benefits for people with COPD
First of all, it is an easy way to exercise. Most exercises are stationary and performed sitting or standing. These physical postures, also called asanas, encourage your flexibility and build up your physical strength, thus helping you to increase your exercise tolerance. Yoga classes set up for COPD patients do not contain complicated poses, but just gentle stretching and bending exercises, designed especially with the health needs of people with COPD in mind. Together with the breathing exercises, the so-called pranayamas, which will teach you how to manage attacks of breathlessness, they will give you all the tools you need to effectively manage both your physical and your emotional well-being. All the techniques are normally easy enough to also practice at home.
Second, there is the social interaction you will be able to build up with your fellow students. You can exchange experiences with others in the same or similar condition as you are, so the feeling of isolation, being one of a kind, will reduce. And the mere fact of spending time with other people on a regular basis will undoubtedly help improve your overall mood, as it does to all of us. This makes it a fun sociable activity, which should be easy to keep up!
And last, but maybe not least, it can be a big help to those COPD patients that, despite their disease, cannot manage to quit smoking. Trying to stop this habit can lead to stress and anxiety, which does not help the condition of especially COPD patients, and may even have an adverse effect. Practising yoga can be a big help in relieving these stress symptoms caused by smoking cessation and increase the chance of a successful attempt to quit. This is a suggestion endorsed by the American Lung Association.
Yoga is a safe way of exercise for people with lung diseases
Especially for people suffering from emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases that are generally known as COPD, yoga is one of the best ways to keep a health condition as good as possible through exercise. Of course, before you begin, consult with your doctor and ask his advice. Maybe he or she will also know certified yoga teachers in your neighbourhood with good credentials for training COPD patients. And always remember to keep your inhaler at hand, just in case. With these precautions taken, nothing stands in your way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing with the aid of yoga!