Yoga may have a beneficial effect on symptoms and quality of life in patients with asthma, but its effects on lung function and medication use are uncertain, according to a study review.
The new review, by Cochrane researchers, found trial evidence that practicing yoga might be able to improve asthma quality of life and symptoms to some extent.
“Yoga exercise may lead to small improvements in asthma quality of life and symptoms”
However, the researchers also warned that higher-quality studies with more participants would be needed to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of yoga.
The team identified 15 randomised controlled trials, involving 1,048 men and women, most of which were conducted in India, Europe or the US.
The majority of participants had mild to moderate asthma. Six studies looked into the effects of breathing alone during yoga exercise, while the others assessed breathing, posture and meditation.
Most people continued to take their usual asthma medication while participating in the studies, which were conducted for two weeks to over four years, according to the review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
The researchers found some moderate quality evidence from five studies that yoga exercise reduced the impact of asthma on people’s quality of life.
However, evidence about yoga’s impact on lung function was more uncertain because the results varied. Its effects on medication use and any side-effects from it were also judged uncertain.
Lead author Dr Zuyao Yang from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said: “Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to small improvements in asthma quality of life and symptoms.
“However, it is unclear whether yoga has a consistent impact on lung function and we don’t yet know if yoga can reduce people’s medication usage, or if there are any side-effects of yoga for people with asthma,” he said.
Rebecca Normansell, deputy co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Airways Group, added, “At present, we just don’t have enough high quality evidence to determine the effects of yoga as a type of exercise for helping people manage their asthma.”