Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. In the UK, over 1.1 million children have asthma; that’s about 1 in 10 children. The good news is that up to three-quarters of children with asthma will grow out of it. Now researchers at the University of Cincinnati say that their findings on the benefits of yoga could help physicians and other health care providers find other ways of help children and adults self-manage this condition.
The University of Cincinnati study, led by Sian Cotton, Assistant Professor at the Department of Family & Community Medicine, looked at how adolescents deal with their asthma and which coping methods best affected their mental and physical health outcomes. As part of their study, the team analysed 10 forms of complementary and alternative medicine used for the management of asthma symptoms – including meditation, yoga, massage, herbs and dietary changes. Researchers found that these methods proved helpful, improving both mental and physical health outcomes.
These results came as no surprise to Fenella Lindsell, founder of YogaBugs.
“Children nowadays, especially teenagers are under a lot of stress. We tend to hold our breath and breathe more shallowly when we are under stress. Breathing correctly is important as we tend to use as little as a third of our lungs; capacity. In yoga, we learn how to breathe deeply and evenly. Abdominal breathing is an easy way to increase the supply of oxygen to the lungs. You simply sit up straight and then breathe in and out steadily through the nose.”
Downward facing dog is a great posture to practice as it helps to get more oxygen into the lungs, increasing blood flow and improving circulation. This also has the benefit of rejuvenating the brain cells and invigorating the brain. Simple backbends such as Cow, Cobra and Bridge are great for opening up the chest area and strengthening the immune system. It’s important to bear in mind that children’s bodies are forming so any yoga postures and breathing exercises should be practised with care.”
Space breathing, using the Butyko Method, has been proven in clinical trials to help people with respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis and COPD. It consists of a series of safe, simple and effective breathing exercises, which restore natural patterns in the body systems and decreases symptoms so reducing the need for medication.