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6 Breathing Exercises for Asthma

Living with asthma is really challenging. The struggle isn’t only just physically exhausting. It’s completely mentally draining. The condition currently affects around 300 million people, with that number increasing by 50% every decade. 

If you suffer from asthma, you are certainly not alone. However, you also aren’t without hope…

Introducing… breathing exercises for asthma

There are several breathing exercises you can implement into your daily routine that can significantly improve respiratory function and overall well-being. 

Each method has been curated based on its proven efficacy in managing and mitigating the challenges posed by asthma. While breathwork exercises for asthma obviously aren’t “cures”, they can definitely make life more manageable. These exercises transcend mere breath control – they are holistic approaches that encompass the mind, body and spirit in the pursuit of respiratory health.

Below, we’ll detail seven specific breathing techniques known for helping manage asthma symptoms.

1. Nasal Breathing

Nasal breathing involves inhaling through the nose (as opposed to through the mouth). Unlike mouth breathing, which has associations with asthma symptoms, nasal breathing is a beneficial exercise for people dealing with asthma. This method introduces humidity and warmth to the air, potentially alleviating discomforting symptoms.

How to Practice Nasal Breathing:

  • Sit comfortably and cross your legs.
  • Put your right hand on your right knee.
  • Raise your left hand and bring it towards your nose.
  • Block the left nostril using your left thumb and fingers. Breathe out completely.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, then close it with your thumb and fingers.
  • Open the left nostril and exhale.
  • Repeat, finishing with an exhale on the right side.
  • Continue for about five minutes.

You can read more here: Ultimate Guide to Nasal Breathing

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing intends to strengthen your diaphragm. This is the muscle separating the abdomen from the thorax. It’s essential for breathing. This technique is simple but highly effective at maximising the air distribution in your lungs. 

How to Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing:

  • Lie on your back with slightly bent knees and put a pillow under them.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise while keeping your chest still.
  • Exhale slowly through pursed lips.
  • Keep practising until you can breathe in and out without moving your chest.

3. Yoga Breathing

Yoga is a holistic practice that combines physical postures, breath control, and meditation to promote overall well-being. But little did you know, yoga can help prevent asthma flare-ups. Regular practice has been shown to reduce the need for an inhaler by 43%. Yoga includes various postures that emphasise deep breathing, making it beneficial for people with asthma.

How to Practice Yoga Breathing:

There are various kinds of asthma breathing techniques, so choose the one that suits you best.

  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Seated Half Spinal Twist) – This pose opens your chest, enhancing oxygen flow to the lungs, which helps prevent asthma attacks.
  • Bridge Pose – This balances your body, opens your lungs and chest, aids digestion, and reduces the risk of thyroid issues.
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) – This boosts blood and oxygen circulation, opens the chest, and clears airways, providing relief from asthma symptoms.
  • Easy Pose – Focused on stress control and breathing, this pose relaxes the brain, widens the chest, and instils a sense of peace and calm, potentially avoiding triggers for asthma flare-ups.

4. Buteyko Breathing

Buteyko breathing was developed in the 1950s. It addresses the tendency of asthma patients to hyperventilate, leading to an increased risk of triggering asthma symptoms. At its core, this method focuses on helping individuals slow down their breathing rate.

How to Practice Buteyko Breathing:

  • Sit upright on a chair. Make yourself comfortable.
  • Relax your chest and abdominal muscles.
  • Inhale deeply. Keep your head straight and your eyes closed.
  • Inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.
  • Take a slow, deep breath followed by a gentle exhale until your lungs feel empty. 
  • Hold your breath for as long as comfortable before returning to a relaxed breathing pattern.

You can learn more right here: Basics to the Buteyko Breathing Technique

5. Papworth Method

The Papworth method was developed in the 1960s. While it incorporates various breathing techniques and relaxation methods, the approach focuses on training individuals to breathe steadily and slowly through the nose and from the diaphragm. 

The method also incorporates principles of stress management to ensure your breathing remains unaffected.

Studies indicate that this technique can enhance the quality of life and alleviate breathing symptoms in individuals with mild asthma, particularly those caused by mouth breathing and rapid breathing. Its effectiveness may vary for individuals with more severe asthma.

How to Practice the Papworth Method:

  • Gently breathe in through your nostrils.
  • Exhale through pursed lips, like you’re blowing out a candle.
  • Ensure your exhale lasts twice as long as your inhale.
  • Practice this sequence 3-5 times.

6. Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursuing your lips is like the expression you make as if you were blowing a candle.

Pursed lip breathing is a specific technique known for its effectiveness during an asthma attack. As asthma can lead to air being trapped in the lungs, this method assists in expelling more air during exhalation. It can be highly effective for asthma patients dealing with breathlessness.

How to Practice Pursed Lip Breathing:

  • Inhale gradually through your nostrils with your mouth closed.
  • After five seconds, breathe out mimicking the action of blowing a whistle or a candle.
  • Ensure the exhalation lasts twice as long as the inhalation.


Learn breathing exercises for asthma from breathwork experts.

Incorporating these breathing exercises into your daily routine can empower you to take control of your asthma symptoms. 

However, for optimal results, consider learning breathing for asthma from the breathwork experts here at Breathless Expeditions. Enrolling in our breathwork classes can provide personalised guidance and support on your journey to better respiratory health. With our help, you can take the step towards a healthier, more manageable life with asthma by investing in your breath.

If you’re interested in learning more about breathwork training and breathwork workshops near your location, click here or join the free 21-Day Master Your Breath Program with our team at Breathless Expeditions.

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