The headline is obviously a QTWTAIN, a question to which the answer is no, but there may be some benefits to yoga practice in terms of improving lung function in asthmatics, according to evidence from a new Cochrane review, possibly. The organisation’s Head of Communications and External Affairs, Julie Wood, who usually prefers to stay behind the scenes, recently stepped out from behind the curtain to write about this latest review and her own experience with asthma.
Curiously, Wood’s journey with asthma seems to mirror my own experience. Started running again in early twenties, couldn’t breathe by the end of it, diagnosed with exercise-induced bronchospasm and prescribed inhalers, symptoms emerged with other triggers, prescribed more inhalers. Don’t really want to be taking inhalers, looked for another option.
Fundamentally, however, yoga is not a panacea, it might be a useful form of exercise/stretching/relaxation for various reasons, but it’s not going to fix what ails you when it comes to bronchoconstriction and pulmonary mucus accumulation, whether that’s exercise, cold, pollen, dust, stress induced, or whatever.
In her blog post for Cochrane, Wood says:
“According to the evidence published today in the Cochrane Review, the strength of the evidence isn’t at a point where we can definitively say whether it does help people with their asthma, but the initial signs are promising.”
The NHS Choices publication “Behind the Headlines” which takes great care to critique in detail the medical headlines assesses the Cochrane systematic review of yoga-asthma research and says it was well conducted and seemed to find that “yoga may improve quality of life”, but points out that “this could be the case if you take part in many types of physical activity, not just yoga. There was no comparison with other forms of exercise.”
The NHS conclusion from its analysis of the Cochrane review is that it:
“does not produce conclusive evidence that yoga would be beneficial to people with asthma, and any negative effects were not investigated.”
For me, I’ll keep taking my meds as and when and following the medical advice from the “asthma nurse” I see once a year. I’ve tried yoga myseld and indeed still practice a little (Mrs Sciencebase is a yoga teacher, after all), but I cannot say that it does anything for my asthma, but neither does singing or anything else except the Salbutamol…