Yoga can make improvements in the bio-psycho-social life of a person suffering from respiratory conditions. I am not suggesting that it’s a miracle cure, there is a great difference between healing and curing. Curing suggests the physical/psychic body is restored and there is no more disease or residual left from a trauma. Yoga, I believe, can rarely cure, but it can heal the residual effects of the biological conditions, improve emotional and intellectual suffering to cope with a condition, it can slow down the process of an inevitable outcome, and offer methods of skill building to help the student of yoga take control of their own health and future.
Working with respiratory conditions has a special place within yoga. Much of our treatment models in yoga therapy use the techniques of pranayama for improving the bio-psycho-social aspects of the student. Working with respiratory issues is often complicated, and more often a slow process. Unlike offering a few exercises to strengthen a weak thigh muscle, pranayama can be trying both physically and emotionally for many students. Something we need to remember is that when taking a breath is at a premium, it may be difficult to let go of how one is breathing at present and try something different. Fear can be a daunting adversary.
Teaching new breathing techniques needs patience and the attitude of non-judgment from both the teacher and the student. Using the models of yoga therapy, such as the Pancha Maya model or the Vayus model, brings the whole person to the table. Yoga’s beauty is in its whole person perspective. Though tempting to address only the physical condition of a person, especially when dealing with respiratory conditions, the full spectrum of yoga should, must be applied for healing.