Yoga for COPD

Yoga for COPD

What is Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease. Having COPD makes it hard to breathe.

There are two main forms of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus.
  • Emphysema, which involves damage to the lungs over time.

Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.

DEFINITION: Progressive irreversible airway obstruction (Asthma is reversible)
– Characterised by breathing difficulty, especially during exertion and productive cough (cough with sputum)
– These symptoms worsen over time as the disease progresses.



– Inflammation of airways (bronchioles) in response to irritants like smoke/smoking → leads to swelling and
excess production of sputum (mucus) in the airways
– This leads to constriction of airways → difficulty in air movement in and out of lungs
– Chronic bronchitis – productive cough which persists for more than 3 months in a year for consecutive 2


– Alveoli have an epithelial layer that helps in gaseous exchange
– Secondary inflammation from the airways spreads to the alveoli → Destruction of the epithelial layer of the
alveoli → become less flexible and become elongated

– Productive cough due to exposure to cold conditions/dust/evening/early morning time/winter season
– Breathlessness, initially during exertion, then worsens over time.
– Chest becomes barrel-shaped – ideal shape is conical/funnel-shaped – change in shape is due to lung damage
– Bluish discoloration of nails, lips, tongue – due to decreased oxygen supply
– COPD exacerbation – a sudden worsening of symptoms on exposure to certain irritants like dust/volatile chemicals,
– Cough gets aggravated – so bad in some cases, that the ribs get fractured
– Some patients faint due to excess coughing
– Excess production of mucus
– Severe breathing difficulty
– Syncope – death due to respiratory attack
– Most common way of death in COPD patients
– Can be treated through bronchodilators and removing the sputum from the chest
– In the end days, the person is practically on oxygen supply

– 80-85% – Smoking or history of smoking
– 1 pack year – 1 packet of cigarettes for daily 1 year. If it is a 10 pack-year – chances of COPD are very high
– Air Pollution – breathing in air with irritants for a long period
– Occupational exposure – that have exposure to chemical irritants
– Working in poorly ventilated kitchens/workplaces
– Genetic – though the role is limited

Symptoms of Disease

COPD makes it harder to breathe. Symptoms may be mild at first, beginning with intermittent coughing and shortness of breath. As it progresses, symptoms can become more constant to where it can become increasingly difficult to breathe.

You may experience wheezing and tightness in the chest or have excess sputum production. Some people with COPD have acute exacerbations, which are flare-ups of severe symptoms.

Early symptoms

At first, symptoms of COPD can be quite mild. You might mistake them for a cold.

Early symptoms include:

  • Occasional shortness of breath, especially after exercise
  • Mild but recurrent cough
  • Needing to clear your throat often, especially first thing in the morning

You might start making subtle changes, such as avoiding stairs and skipping physical activities.

Worsening symptoms

Symptoms can get progressively worse and harder to ignore. As the lungs become more damaged, you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath, after even mild forms of exercise like walking up a flight of stairs
  • Wheezing, which is a type of higher-pitched noisy breathing, especially during exhalations
  • Chest tightness
  • Chronic cough, with or without mucus
  • Need to clear mucus from your lungs every day
  • Frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy

In later stages of COPD, symptoms may also include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs
  • Weight loss

Symptoms are likely to be much worse if you currently smoke or are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

Yoga for COPD

What is Yoga?

According to Bhagwad Gita Equanimity, Stability, Balance, Harmony, Equipoise is yoga i.e. Samatvam Yoga Ucchyate.

According to Sage Vashistha yoga is the skill to calm down the mind i.e. Manah prasamana upayah yogah.

And according to Great Sage Maharishi Patanjali yoga is the cessation of mental modifications i.e. Yoga is to gain mastery over modifications of Mind.

According to Guruji Shubham Barwala Ji, yoga is the recognition of Mental Modifications the moment they arise in our consciousness.

According to Guruji Neeraj Medharthi, Ji Yoga is the state of perfect balance.

Evidence-based yoga therapy or yoga for COPD

At Vedamrita our purpose is to bring the best and scientific research and evidence-based yoga therapy to our beloved readers and our students likewise and thereby increasing the general acceptability of Yoga therapy amidst the field of various treatments available. Below are a few research papers we find out related to yoga for COPD.

Research Papers: –

Mind-Body Exercise for Anxiety and Depression in COPD Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Li Z, Liu S, Wang L, Smith L. Mind-Body Exercise for Anxiety and Depression in COPD Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 18;17(1):22. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17010022. PMID: 31861418; PMCID: PMC6981896.

Breathing exercises for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Holland AE, Hill CJ, Jones AY, McDonald CF. Breathing exercises for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008250. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008250.pub2. PMID: 23076942.

The risks and benefits of yoga for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Cramer H, Haller H, Klose P, Ward L, Chung VC, Lauche R. The risks and benefits of yoga for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2019 Dec;33(12):1847-1862. DOI: 10.1177/0269215519860551. Epub 2019 Jul 29. PMID: 31353959.

Effectiveness of meditative movement on COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Wu LL, Lin ZK, Weng HD, Qi QF, Lu J, Liu KX. Effectiveness of meditative movement on COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2018 Apr 17;13:1239-1250. DOI: 10.2147/COPD.S159042. PMID: 29713157; PMCID: PMC5909800.

Effect of Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) on Exercise Tolerance in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Kaminsky DA, Guntupalli KK, Lippmann J, Burns SM, Brock MA, Skelly J, DeSarno M, Pecott-Grimm H, Mohsin A, LaRock-McMahon C, Warren P, Whitney MC, Hanania NA. Effect of Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) on Exercise Tolerance in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Sep;23(9):696-704. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2017.0102. Epub 2017 Jul 17. PMID: 28714735; PMCID: PMC5610410.

Panch Kosha Based Yoga Therapy or Yoga for COPD

 Yogic Diet – Yoga for COPD

  • Avoid cold food items, cold water, cold drinks
  • Avoid deep-fried items
  • Avoid specific food/fruits that the person might be allergic to. Eg. banana
  • Have light meals which are warm and semi-solid.
  • If they eat a full meal, the diaphragm will be pushed upwards, gas production, distension of the abdomen
    takes place.

Asanas – 5 Yoga Poses for COPD

  • Nirvana Pranayam (Pursed Lip Breathing)
  • Marjariasana (Cat Pose)
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist Pose)
  • Trikon Asana (Triangle Pose)
  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

Kriyas – Yoga for COPD

  • Jala neti/sutra neti
  • Vamana dhauti
  • LSP
  • Kapalabhati 20-30 strokes per min

Pranayama – Yoga for COPD

  • Avoid cooling pranayama
  • Do bhastrika
  • Right nostril breathing – suryabhedana
  • Nadishuddhi
  • Bhramari
  • Sectional breathing
  • Ujjayi

Manomaya Kosha – Yoga for COPD

  • Yoga Nindra
  • Bhajan
  • Chanting
  • Emotional Counselling
  • Prayer
  • Mind Sound Resonance technique (M.S.R.T.)

Vijnanamaya Kosha – Yoga for COPD

  • Counseling about the disease, triggering factors, diet

Anandamaya Kosha – Yoga for COPD

  • Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Spend time with family and loved ones.

Explore this Health Topic to learn more about Yoga for COPD, the role of yoga and yoga therapy for various diseases, and where to find more information regarding it.

Read more about Yoga for COPD


  1. Yashpal on November 21, 2021 at 7:02 am

    V.good information and presentation

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