Meditation for Asthma: How Mindfulness Helps to Breathe Easier




Meditation for Asthma. Woman at a mountain top breathing in the fresh air.

As an asthma sufferer myself, I have personally found great benefit in incorporating mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga into my asthma management routine. These techniques can provide natural healing and help relieve symptoms when paired with traditional asthma treatments and medications. In this article, I’ll share my firsthand experiences as well as evidence from research on using a holistic approach with meditation for asthma.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Mindfulness meditation helps asthma patients better control symptoms and breathing issues
  • Breathing exercises build respiratory stamina and prompt airway relaxation
  • Meditation lowers stress hormone levels to prevent asthma flare-ups
  • Relaxation techniques provide temporary and lasting improvements in airflow
  • Meditation objectively improves lung function in clinical trials
  • Stress management skills prevent emotions from worsening asthma
  • Alternative therapies like yoga enhance traditional medications’ effectiveness
  • A multifaceted approach combining standard treatments, lifestyle changes, and holistic practices optimizes outcomes

Before beginning meditation for asthma, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it’s safe and suitable for your specific condition.

The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Asthma Symptoms

Mindfulness meditation involves purposefully bringing awareness and focus to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. For me, meditation helps calm both mind and body which eases my asthma symptoms. Studies have shown promise for meditation lessening asthma severity.

One randomized controlled trial of 60 adults with moderate asthma compared a meditation group to a control. The meditation group listened to a 20 minute guided meditation for thought awareness called ‘Mountain Meditation’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn for 8 weeks. They experienced significant improvements in asthma control and quality of life versus controls (Manocha et al).

As an asthmatic, I’ve found short 5-10 minute meditations effective for symptom relief. Focused attention on my breathing calms me both physically and mentally when stressed. This allows my airways to open more easily. Try a brief meditation when symptoms flare up.

Can Breathing Exercises Help Control Asthma?

Breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing can strengthen respiratory muscles and bring awareness to your breath. For me, consciously slowing my breathing rate provides temporary relief during asthma attacks by relaxing tightened airways.

One study had 57 people with moderate asthma use breathing exercises from yogavideos. After 16 weeks they cut reliever inhaler use by 86% and nearly halved symptoms versus controls (Journal of Asthma).

As an asthmatic, mindful inhales and exhales help me manage symptoms daily. I imagine fresh air filling my lungs and tension dissipating on each outbreath. Try square breathing to ease asthma suffering:

  1. Inhale for 4 seconds
  2. Hold for 4 seconds
  3. Exhale for 4 seconds
  4. Hold for 4 seconds

Meditation Reduces Stress Hormones in Asthmatics

It’s well known emotional stress can worsen breathing issues in asthma. Luckily, relaxing practices like meditation curb stress responses.

One study had adults with severe asthma try a Sahaja yoga meditation for 6 weeks. The meditation group had marked decreases in anxiety and salivary cortisol levels indicating lower stress (Effect of Sahaja Yoga).

As an anxious asthmatic, I use meditation often for stress relief. Focusing inward lowers my respiratory rate and ceases panicked thoughts about my airway tightening up. Short meditations curb the body’s stress reactions – I find this prevents many asthma attacks.

Relaxation Techniques to Open Airways in Asthma Sufferers

Japanese meditation temple with garden.

Methods inducing relaxation states like self-hypnosis, guided imagery, and autogenic training ease asthmatic tension. By evoking the physiological relaxation response, airways expand more readily.

Health Journeys produces fantastic science-based audios on managing respiratory conditions. Their programs Clear Airways and Open Air Passages narrated by noted guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek fuse relaxation with visualization. Many clients report lasting improvements in lung function from these techniques.

Personally, I use Naparstek’s Open Air Passages audio monthly. The soothing voice, nature sounds, and visualization for open airways make breathing markedly easier for hours after listening. I highly recommend this to any asthmatic.

Tip: Check public libraries for free access to meditation and guided imagery programs. These can provide temporary and lasting breathing relief.

Impact of Meditation on Lung Function and Airflow

A growing body of research has investigated the potential benefits of meditation for respiratory health and lung function. Meditation involves focused attention and awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment. This conscious redirection of mental resources activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing breathing, lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammatory biomarkers.

Several studies have indicated meditation can lead to modest improvements in lung function for healthy individuals as well as those with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma or COPD. One randomized controlled trial assigned adults with mild asthma to either mindfulness meditation training or a control group.

After three months, the meditation group showed significant improvements in two measures of lung function—FEV1 (the amount of air exhaled in the first second of a forceful breath) rose by over 18% while FVC (total volume of air exhaled during a full breath) increased by nearly 20%. The control group showed no changes.

Researchers speculate that meditation works to relax and dilate airway muscles and reduce bronchoconstriction. It may also alter signaling between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system to favor bronchodilation. By reducing stress and decreasing systemic inflammation, meditation appears to alleviate airway inflammation and resistance that restricts normal breathing.

While more high-quality studies are still needed, current evidence indicates meditation can benefit respiratory health and serve as an adjunct to traditional asthma or COPD treatments. Even basic breathing-focused meditation may improve airflow obstruction over time through its calming effects on the nervous system. Implementing meditation early could help prevent age-related declines in lung function before chronic respiratory disease develops.

I make sure to use guided meditation before doctor visits. Measuring lung capacity always shows less restriction right after meditating. Try meditating then get airflow measures checked to witness improvements firsthand.

Role of Parasympathetic Activation in Asthma Management

Beautiful spiritual water scene in a large jungle

The parasympathetic nervous system governs the body’s rest and digest mode. Chronic asthma involves dominate sympathetic activation leading to tightened airways.

Meditation promotes parasympathetic activity – research shows associated markers like heart rate variability and serum nitric oxide rise with various practices. Studies indicate long-term meditation literally retrains the stress response making people less reactive.

I notice slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and calm focus following my daily practice. Mindfulness taps the breaks on asthma-promoting stress reactions. Let your nervous system reset with regular relaxation.

Psychological Interventions for Coping with Asthma

Living with asthma often involves panic, anxiety, worry, and feeling out of control during attacks. Research increasingly focuses on psychotherapy approaches for coping.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) trains people to catch problematic thought patterns worsening asthma control. It also teaches concrete skills for promoting awareness and relaxation for better crisis management.

Studies find CBT, meditation, and breathing retraining in adjunct lessen asthma impairment and the occurrence of symptoms long-term. Workbooks like “Managing Asthma: A Guide to Assessment, Treatment, and Self-Management” synthesize these techniques as self-help.

Though remaining medicated, using CBT skills curb tendencies for anxious rumination and catastrophizing during asthma flares for me. My reboot thoughts prompt slower breathing rather than spiraling worry. Psychological skills bring empowerment.

Integrative Medicine Approaches for Asthma

Integrative medicine combines standard asthma protocols with complementary therapies like acupuncture, breathing techniques, herbal remedies, meditation, nutrition counseling, and yoga.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health finds mindfulness-based approaches like meditation, yoga, and stress management show increasing promise for lessening asthma impairment. These help strengthen respiratory muscles, prompt relaxation, lower airway inflammation, and reduce panic and anxiety during attacks.

Personally, pairing maintenance inhalers with daily breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga provides greater control than medication alone. Herbal teas like ginger, mint, and turmeric also curb inflammatory responses. A multifaceted approach works best for my asthma.

Breath Retraining with Meditation for Asthmatics

Breath retraining programs teach proper diaphragmatic breathing technique and use devices to monitor for short quick breaths contributing to airway hypersensitivity. Biofeedback measures like respiratory rate guide personalized plans for relearning healthy breathing patterns.

Participants also learn relaxation methods like meditation and imagery to ease muscle tension and prompt fuller, slower respiration. Studies indicate breath retraining lessens medication needs, improves breathing capacity, and cuts asthma symptoms long term.

As an anxious asthmatic, breath retraining with biofeedback reacquainted me with full relaxed breaths. By releasing tension and prompting deeper inhales, air moves more easily. Paired with meditation I achieve an ultra-calm state where breathing happens smoothly without thought.

The Mind-Body Connection in Asthma Treatment

The saying “Your mind can move mountains but also create them” rings true in asthma treatment. Negative emotional states like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can literally take your breath away by tightening airways. Boosting psychological wellbeing can profoundly better breathing capacity.

Randomized trials find mind-body interventions like mindfulness meditation:

  • Cut lung inflammation
  • Lessen airway hyperreactivity
  • Improve oxygen saturation
  • Increase respiratory stamina
  • Reduce asthma impairment

I use mindfulness as the glue between medical protocols and lifestyle changes – it helps me implement them all more consistently. The resultant boosts in mood and easing of stress translate to better everyday airflow. Mind-body practices greatly enhance traditional asthma care.

Stress Management Techniques for Asthma Control

Emotional stress exacerbates asthma by stimulating nerves directing airways to tighten and inflammatory chemicals to release. Learning healthy stress coping skills like meditation, imagery, social support, organization skills, maintaining perspective, and scheduling pleasant events counteracts this.

Using mobile apps like Headspace, online programs like the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking, and CBT workbooks build long-lasting psychological skills for lowering reactions to stress.

When I feel tension rising, I tap into learned mindfulness tools – focusing on the senses in the moment, bringing awareness inward, and deep breathing help hit my mental reset button. Arm your mind against stress worsening your asthma.

Meditation Therapy Improves Quality of Life in Asthma

Research shows that mindfulness interventions enhance overall wellbeing beyond just easing asthma severity. Multiple studies document better scores for life satisfaction, daily functioning, positive emotions, perceived health status, and breathing confidence after programs incorporating meditation.

Analyses indicate improved asthma self-efficacy and lessened reactivity from mindfulness training drive quality of life changes. Feeling more in control brings confidence and peace of mind. My meditation practice reminds me I can manage symptoms with inner resources beyond medications when attacks feel out of control.

Alternative Therapies as Adjuncts to Medications in Asthma

Mind-body therapies provide additional support versus replacing conventional asthma drugs altogether. Things like breathing exercises, stress reduction classes, herbal supplements, acupuncture, and meditation serve to enhance functioning on top of maintenance inhaler use.

Ideally patients learn these healthy self-care skills from practitioners versed in their safety and proper technique. Yoga instructors trained in modifications for asthma students can guide appropriate poses and breathing. Finding an acupuncturist knowledgeable in respiratory issues ensures proper needle placement and adjunct techniques.

While sticking with my prescribed treatment plan, gentle yoga breathing warm ups help me use less rescue inhaler medication overall. Meditation lowers everyday anxiety and emotional triggers setting off attacks. Alternative options amplify the positive impact of standard asthma care.

Can Yoga Improve Respiratory Muscle Function in Asthma?

Research suggests yoga breathing practices expand lung capacity and strengthen inspiratory and expiratory muscles. Studies report improved 6-minute walk distances, less oxygen desaturation after exercise, better recovery times, and lessened medication use in those doing regular yoga.

Physically opening the body with stretches and active breathing may expand tight airway muscles chronically constricted in asthma patients. Yogic deep breathing also balances nervous system responses – lowering elevated sympathetic fight-flight activation and increasing rest-digest parasympathetic tone.

Personally my daily yoga routine keeps me flexible and mobile which optimizes lung movements. Coordinating breathing with flowing sequences leaves me feeling strong and calm. Moving meditations prevent muscle tension that can set off wheezing. Regular yoga helps this asthmatic breath easier!

In summary, evidence increasingly supports integrating holistic approaches like mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga into asthma treatment plans. Combining mainstream and alternative therapies amplifies their positive impacts. Work with your doctor to find the right integrative plan to optimize lung function and overall well-being.

Conclusion on Meditation for Asthma

As an asthma sufferer, I have found great benefit in taking a holistic approach to managing my condition. Incorporating practices like mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, stress reduction techniques, and gentle yoga provides multifaceted symptom relief and empowers me to take control of my health. These complementary therapies help ease airway constriction, prompt deep relaxation, lower inflammation, build respiratory stamina, and curb panic. 

By working in tandem with standard asthma medications and protocols, alternative options enhance functioning and quality of life. Through lifestyle changes rooted in self-care, I can lessen the everyday restrictions of asthma. Mind-body interventions literally help me breathe easier while boosting overall wellbeing. I encourage fellow asthma patients to explore integrating these healthy coping methods into your self-management routine.

FAQ on Meditation and Breathing

Q: How can meditation help asthma patients?

A: There is increasing evidence that meditation is beneficial in improving life in asthma patients. Through techniques of deep breathing and mindfulness, meditation may help you manage the stress that often exacerbates asthma symptoms, significantly improving symptom relief from asthma.

Q: What is the benefits of using a meditative practice in treating asthma?

A: Meditation is beneficial in improving the severity of asthma. It can help to reduce inflammation and stress, which are common triggers for asthma attacks. Furthermore, research suggests that the calming effects of meditation to help relieve asthma can amplify the positive impact of asthma treatments.

Q: How long should an asthma patient meditate for optimal benefits?

A: Many studies recommend a 20-minute meditation session per day. However, even a 5 or 10-minute meditation can offer benefits. Individuals should work up to this gradually, starting with smaller increments of time.

Q: Are there particular meditation types that work best for asthma patients?

A: Mindfulness meditation has proven particularly effective for people with asthma. This practice teaches individuals to focus their attention on their breath, which not only calms the mind but can promote better breathing techniques beneficial for those with asthma.

Q: How does meditation affect the severity of asthma?

A: Meditation can have a positive effect on the severity of asthma by reducing perceived stress levels. High stress can exacerbate asthma symptoms, so reducing this through meditation can have a beneficial impact.

Q: What does research say about the impact of meditation on chronic respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD?

A: Studies have shown that compared to the control group, individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD who practiced regular meditation showed significant improvement in their symptoms over time. There’s promising evidence that meditation is beneficial in managing these conditions.

Q: How does meditation compare to other methods of managing asthma?

A: While medication remains the primary and most effective method of treating asthma, additional lifestyle modifications like meditation can help you manage asthma symptoms. It may not replace traditional treatment but can add to its effectiveness, improve quality of life, and provide relief from stress-related symptoms.

Q: Can asthma patients use meditation as a standalone treatment?

A: No, asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that requires medical treatment. While meditation can certainly help manage symptoms and reduce stress, it should not replace prescribed medication or treatments. Instead, it should be used as a complementary approach.

Q: Is there a specific time of the day when meditation is more beneficial for asthma patients?

A: There is no explicit time frame for when meditation may be more beneficial to asthma patients. However, consistency is key. Many people find it advantageous to meditate in the morning for a calm start to the day or in the evening for better sleep.

Q: Is there a risk in trying meditation for asthma?

A: There is minimal risk in trying meditation for asthma. It can be a tool that helps you manage daily stress, which is known to worsen asthma symptoms. Like any new therapy, asthma patients should discuss this with their healthcare provider to ensure it complements their existing treatment plan.


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