Asthma – A Disease of How We Breathe: Role of Breathing Exercises and Pranayam


To describe the role of breathing exercises or yoga and/or pranayama in the management of childhood asthma. We conducted an updated literature search and retrieved relevant literature on the role of breathing exercises or yoga and/or pranayama in the management of childhood asthma. We found that the breathing exercises or yoga and/or pranayama are generally multi-component packaged interventions, and are described as follows: Papworth technique, Buteyko technique, Yoga and/or Pranayam. These techniques primarily modify the pattern of breathing to reduce hyperventilation resulting in normalisation of CO2 level, reduction of bronchospasm and resulting breathlessness. In addition they also change the behaviour, decrease anxiety, improve immunological parameters, and improve endurance of the respiratory muscles that may ultimately help asthmatic children. We found 10 clinical trials conducted in children with asthma of varying severity, and found to benefit children with chronic (mild and moderate) and uncontrolled asthma, but not acute severe asthma. Breathing exercises or yoga and/or pranayama may benefit children with chronic (mild and moderate) and uncontrolled asthma, but not acute severe asthma. Before these techniques can be incorporated into the standard care of asthmatic children, important outcomes like quality of life, medication use, and patient reported outcomes need to be evaluated in future clinical trials.

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The authors are very much thankful to Dr. Nishant P Jaiswal, Scientist C, ICMR Advanced Centre for Evidence Based Child Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India for providing help in the database search.

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JS was involved in designing the protocol for the review, reviewing the literature, statistical analysis and in writing of the manuscript. RRD was involved in reviewing the literature, data extraction, statistical analyses and in writing the paper. Both authors approved the final version of the manuscript. JS will act as the guarantor of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jhuma Sankar.

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Sankar, J., Das, R.R. Asthma – A Disease of How We Breathe: Role of Breathing Exercises and Pranayam. Indian J Pediatr 85, 905–910 (2018).

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  • Pediatric
  • Asthma
  • Yoga
  • Pranayam
  • Breathing exercise
  • Lung function
  • Allergy
  • Quality of life