The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Balance COPD with Yoga
Being able to find a balance in life is difficult. It is even more difficult for people with COPD. Having COPD causes troubles with not only breathing, but being able to control your emotional well being. Struggling to have a good balance between breathing and your emotional stability can cause you to decrease your social interactions and increase your stress level. These two components can increase symptoms of COPD and can be a detriment to your mentality. Finding balance is crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy life with COPD. Luckily, this balance can be found in yoga. Yoga can help treat patients with COPD by giving them the ability to take a step back and focus solely on their mind and body.
Is Yoga Good for You and COPD?
There are specific yoga classes created for patients with COPD, which include a gentle, easy and effective way to improve your fitness and flexibility. In addition, there are breathing exercises that provide you with the tools to confidently manage any flare-ups or breathlessness. Before performing any of the following poses, make sure that you have spoken with your physician to make sure you are safely improving your fitness.
Standing Mountain Pose
This straightforward, “standing tall” pose helps to open up the chest. Arms can be raised or left by the sides.
Standing Side Bends
These will help to strengthen the diaphragm while also improving flexibility of the rib cage.
Seated Forward Bends
These poses help to strengthen the respiratory system.
Breathe Stronger with COPD
Adding yoga to your life not only benefits you physically, but it can help you breathe easier. Yoga stimulates your body by bringing more oxygen into the blood which helps control vital energy.
There are many different exercises that can be performed to open up your airways. Most people with COPD have heard about pursed-lip breathing and diaphragm breathing, which helps open up your airways; with yoga, there is another special breathing technique called abdominal breathing. Here is a list of steps on how to perform abdominal breathing:
- Breathe in and let your stomach expand.
- As you breathe out, contract the stomach muscles pressing your stomach inwards.
- Focus on contracting the lower abdomen and ribs as you breathe out. This helps to raise the diaphragm, enabling the lungs to empty fully, improving the depth of your breathing.
Take Caution to Ensure Safety
It is extremely important that before exercising any of these activities that you talk it over with your doctor. Also when performing, you should always have a yoga instructor by your side guaranteeing your safety by insuring that you are accurately doing the positions. Not all yoga poses are good for somebody with COPD. Some positions put extra pressure on the diaphragm, which block the airway. A yoga instructor can direct you as to what poses will help you breathe easier and which ones could aggravate your condition.
If you use supplemental oxygen or inhalers, please keep them by your side while practicing these poses.