Yoga instructor Donna Freeman of the website Yoga in My School talks about yoga for children with asthma on her latest podcast. She focuses on breathing exercises and poses that can help alleviate a child's asthma symptoms.
Asthmatics, Freeman says, often gulp air in through their mouths, taking in large amounts of oxygen, which ultimately doesn't relieve their feeling of breathlessness. Pranayama breathing exercises help release carbon dioxide from the body. They teaches asthmatics to focus on exhaling and fully emptying the lungs, so that they can then take oxygen in.
Several yoga poses are helpful for alleviating stress associated with asthma attacks. Chest opening poses increase lung space and allow the rib cage to open up. Cobra pose is a back bend you perform while lying on your stomach. You put your palms flat on the floor and push your arms up while arching your back.
Fish pose involves lying on your back with your hands beside you or tucked under your buttocks. You roll open your chest by rolling onto the crown of your head.
With camel pose, you begin by kneeling. Don't sit on your heels; kneel up. Reach back by circling your arms above your head one at a time, and grab your heels. Lift your sternum and bring your chest forward. Freeman tells children to think about filling out their camel hump, in order to help them push their chests up and open their rib cages.
Poses that coordinate movement and breath also help children with asthma. Mountain pose, where you raise your arms over your head as you inhale and lower your arms to your sides as you inhale, helps children become conscious of their breath, and shows them how to make the length of their inhalation match the length of their exhalation, so that they're not gulping air, and they're emptying their lungs fully before taking another breath.
Learn more about breathing exercises for asthmatic children by listening to Freeman's podcast here.