Yoga Breathing techniques (YBT) have been in vogue as an adjunct treatment in the management of asthma. The current study was done to determine the value of YBT in patients with COPD. Eleven patients (6 male, 5 female) in the age range 61–82 years (mean age 72) with an established diagnosis of COPD volunteered to participate in the study. Written consents were obtained prior to start of the study. All subjects were taught the YBT and relaxation techniques by a senior Yoga teacher. The procedure for YBT used in this group was modified to accommodate the limited physical capabilities of the participants due to their age as well as the severity of their COPD. The techniques involved breathing exercises with hand stretching, guided relaxation,sectional breathing, and meditation. All the participants received recorded audiotapes so that they could practice these techniques at home for a period of one week prior to the study. All the subjects were on continuous supplemental oxygen 1–3 liters per minute via nasal prongs.
On the study day, baseline vital signs (blood pressure,pulse rate) were taken, a physical examination was done, and spirometry and oximetry were performed and readings recorded. The supplemental oxygen supply was stopped and subjects were asked to perform the YBT off oxygen. The subjects were closely watched and supervised by the Yoga teacher, as well as by the principal physician investigator, during this procedure. Continuous oximetry readings were taken and readings were recorded at baseline, 10 minutes, and 20 minutes during the performance of the YBT. Pre- and post-Yoga spirometry also was performed and recorded. All the subjects were requested to write down their impressions of the effect of YBT. Results: Oxygen saturation dropped to an average value of 87% (range: 82%–92%) immediately after the oxygen supply was discontinued. The oximetry values rose at 10 minutes to 92% and at 20 minutes to 94% during theYBT session on room air alone (without the use of supplemental oxygen). Ten out of 11 subjects felt subjectively better and relaxed overall. One subject could not tolerate being off oxygen, but still felt better subjectively during YBT. Spirometry values before and after YBT did not show any significant change. Conclusion:YBT seems to offer some benefit to patients with COPD and emphysema.