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8 Yoga Poses for Asthma or Anxiety

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Asthma & anxiety attacks – these can be one of the worst feelings in the world. Your chest tightens up and just taking a single deep breath can be a struggle. Fortunately, there are some breathing exercises and yoga poses that can really help ease the tension and give us relief during these times.

Yoga has been proven to have a significant impact on one's health, especially in regards to breathing problems. Yoga is essentially a moving meditation. It teaches you to connect your body, mind and breath, and to be present. Now it may not cure your asthma or anxiety, but it will help in dealing with the symptoms.

Here are some yoga poses that help open up the chest and lungs to ease your breathing and relieve any tightness or tension:

8 Yoga poses for asthma or anxiety:

1. Savasana – Lying flat with a block under your upper back. Keep the block horizontal, the bottom long edge directly behind your chest (ladies: approx. in line with your bra strap). Let your head rest on the mat, and your shoulders fall to the sides. Stay for a few minutes, keeping your mind present and breathing in and out slowly.

2. Cat Cow – one breath, one movement. Inhale, your stomach points towards the mat, head comes up, hips pointed up. Your spine should look like the bottom half of a circle. Exhale, round the back, head down. Spine should look like the upper half of a circle.

3. Low lunge – keep your hands interlocked behind, pulling the shoulders back and shoulder blades coming together. Or you can keep your arms in cactus, upper arms outstretched to the sides, forearms pointing up.

4. Wild thing (if in your practice) – from downward dog, lift one leg up, bend the knee and let the leg fall to the opposite side. Your arm (same side as leg), will naturally lift. Push your chest and hips up and open through the shoulders.

5. Cobra – (baby cobra and full cobra both work). Keeping your palms in line with your chest, either push up half-way or extend arms fully, rounding the shoulders back to open the chest.

6. Camel – keep your palms on your hips, fingers pointing down. Open the chest and start rounding your back, focusing on the bend in the upper back. If it’s in your practice, place hand on heels and push hips out for full camel.

7. Twists – all twists are good, but I really like this one. Keep one leg straight and bend the other. Place the foot of the bent leg on the outside of the opposite knee. Hug the knee with your opposite arm, and place your other hand behind you. Both hip bones on the ground, twist to the side of the bent leg and look over your shoulder.

8. Bridge – Lying flat on your back, bend the knees keeping the feet close to your hips. Inhale, lift your hips up. Exhale, slowly come down. You can also get into wheel pose, if it’s in your practice.

Breathing exercises for asthma & anxiety:

  1. Belly breathing – Sitting in any comfortable position, keep your spine straight and close your eyes. Place your left hand on your chest, and your right hand on your belly. Inhale and exhale through your stomach – only the belly is moving, rest of your body is still. As you inhale, feel the belly expand in your right palm, and as you exhale, feel it contract. Do this for 2-3 minutes, and then release your palms and breathe normally for a few breaths.

  2. Alternate Nostril Breathing – Using your thumb and ring finger of your right hand – you’re going to close your right nostril with your thumb, and inhale through the left side. Now close your left nostril with your ring finger, release the right thumb, and exhale through the right. Inhale right, close the right, open the left, exhale. Inhale left, close the left, open the right, exhale. So you’re basically switching the hold after every inhale. It may help to visualize it as someone walking on a bridge. If someone is going up from the left side, they would come down from the right. And then go back up from the right, and down from the left. Similarly, it’s inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left.

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions, or if there are any other yoga poses that work for you.

- Meow Yoga Team :)

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