Do you find it difficult to catch your breath a lot of the time? If so, then yoga could possibly help boost your breathing capacity, primarily due to its focus on breathing as a form of deep relaxation.
The topic was discussed at an “experimental biology” meeting recently in San Francisco by researchers from Thailand who carried out a study into the matter. They looked at about 60 adults and tested their individual breathing capacities.
For example, they used a tape measure to actually see just how far the patients’ chests expanded when they inhaled. Then, like the test used in nearly every allergist’s office around the country, they tested the force of each person’s exhalation. They finally measured the speed at which the air left the lungs at about the halfway mark of that exhalation.
Split into two groups, half the people practiced hatha yoga three times a week, for about six weeks. Hatha (with “ha” meaning “sun” and “tha” meaning “moon”) is the most common form of yoga here in North America — and it is what most people mean when they say yoga.
Hatha yoga uses physical postures and breathing techniques to energize the body and promote meditation. Within this study, people taking hatha yoga did so for 20 minutes at a time (which constitutes a very short yoga class, by the way), and performed, among other movements, five specific poses that engaged the muscles of the chest.
The comparison group attended the yoga sessions but did not participate. When the study concluded, researchers tested the respiratory abilities of everyone involved. The participants taking yoga could expand their chest wall farther when they breathed and they could blow more air out of their lungs. The comparison group had no change in breathing capacity.
So go ahead and check out a yoga studio in your community. The fees are often very reasonable, and after a few classes, you can start practicing yoga in the comfort of your own home.