Breathe Easier with Yoga

Study Shows Greater Breathing Capacity After 6 Weeks of Yoga

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on April 05, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

April 5, 2006 -- Yoga may boost breathing capacity, a new study shows.

The study comes from Khon Kaen University in Thailand. The researchers included Raoyrin Chanavirut of the university's physical therapy department. Their findings were presented in San Francisco at the Experimental Biology 2006 meeting.

The study included 58 healthy young adults who were about 20 years old. First, they took several tests related to breathing capacity.

The researchers used a tape measure to gauge chest expansion as participants breathed. They also checked how much air participants could forcibly blow out after one second and after full inhalation, as well as the average speed of air leaving participants' lungs midway through exhalation.

Next, Chanavirut's team split participants into two groups. The researchers assigned one group to do hatha yoga three times a week for six weeks. Each session lasted 20 minutes and featured five yoga poses that engaged chest muscles.

For comparison, the second group attended the yoga sessions but didn't do yoga.

After six weeks, the yoga group could expand their chest wall more during breathing and blow more air out of their lungs faster than before yoga training. But the amount of air they typically inhaled and exhaled didn't change.

The comparison group had no changes in breathing capacity, the study also shows.

The study didn't check whether yoga has the same effect on people with breathing problems or lung disease.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Experimental Biology 2006, San Francisco, April 1-5, 2006. News release, American Physiological Society.

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