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Yoga Helps Those With Asthma
Date:5/29/2009

Study finds practice can ease symptoms, raise awareness of breathing patterns

FRIDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Settling into a warrior or tree pose a few times a week seems to improve symptoms and quality of life for people with asthma.

In fact, participants in a recent trial studying the effects of Hatha yoga also reported that they had been able to cut back on some of their asthma medication, said Amy Bidwell, senior author of a study presented this week at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting, in Seattle.

"It's dramatic but not surprising," said Dr. Jonathan Field, director of the allergy and asthma clinic at New York University School of Medicine/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City. "There have been some smaller studies that have stated this before, but I don't think they've ever used a standardized scale of this sort."

Bidwell, a doctoral student in the department of exercise science at Syracuse University, had injured her back when she was working as a personal trainer. "I opted for yoga, not surgery, and it pretty much healed me," she noted.

And while previous studies had been positive, most had looked at immediate physiological responses following a rigorous yoga practice, for example, twice a day for 10 days.

That regimen, Bidwell said, "really wasn't feasible," Bidwell said. "Three times a week for 10 weeks was more realistic."

Bidwell and her co-authors, one of whom is a physician, randomly assigned 20 individuals aged 20 to 65 to practice Hatha yoga two-and-a-half hours a week or to join a (non-yoga) control group, for a total of 10 weeks.

Results were based on a questionnaire that measured frequency and severity of symptoms, activities associated with breathlessness and social and psychological functioning.

"We hold poses up to a minute and focus on deep breathing, which is critical to asthmatics" said Bidwell, who is also a
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