Pranayama - Yogic Breathwork CAN Improve Lung Function

written by Lori Pierce Yoga for Scleroderma Practitioner and Slayer that is Scleroderma Scoop

Scleroderma is a tough disease. There's no doubt about that. Often times we're connected with doctors and healthcare teams that have little experience in dealing with Scleroderma. To no fault of their own. It IS considered a rare disease, after-all.

Finding the right care can be tough. Even with the proper care, the future can look dim. It doesn't have to! There are things that we can do to improve our disease and our health that don't involve medications and allow us a modicum of control and power when we might feel powerless otherwise.

I'm of the imagination that you're already aware of this, or starting to if you're here, following along, or just starting to dive into yoga as a way to keep your body moving. It works! Trust me! I have personal experience on that front - which is why I am here at Yoga for Scleroderma - so I can share my experiences with you, so that you may live a better life, too.

Beyond my own personal experience with the benefits of yoga, we also have clients and another Yoga for Scleroderma practitioner who uses yoga to benefit her life with an active 5-year-old at home!

Most folks think of yoga as twisting our bodies into a pretzel, putting our foot behind our head, or performing hand or headstands. Some yogis and yoginis practice yoga for those reasons. We do not. I have no desire or need to put my foot behind my head. Ever. EVER! I DO use yoga to keep me moving. I'd be much less mobile without it.

There's SO much more to yoga, though!

Pranayama, or yogic breathing, for example. Pranayama has a multitude of benefits for the physical body. It can benefit the psyche, as well, and that's multi-fold ... a quiet mind equals less stress. Less stress leads to less flares - or even elimination of flares for some. Who doesn't want that?

The physical benefit that I find most exciting that can result from daily Pranayama practice is improved lung function. At a minimum, it can at least stabilize lung function. I'm not making this up, folks. As of June 2018, we have one Yoga for Scleroderma student who has improved her lung function with daily Pranayama and one of Yoga for Scleroderma Practitioners with Scleroderma practitioners has stabilized her lung function. In July of 2018, I left my yearly Pulmonary Function Testing with "slightly improved" lung function - for the first time in 16 years with Scleroderma. My pulmonologist believes that this is a result of my adding daily Pranayama to my practice in July 2017. THIS JUST IN ... As I'm writing this post, Kathy has informed me that one of her newest clients of less than one year just reported improvements as well! Her latest tests show no new decline in lung function - stabilization instead! She demonstrated what she's been doing to her doctor and he also believes that the Pranayama and improved posture resulting from yoga has been the helping factor. He's also reuesting that she perform a new sleep study as he believes she may no longer be experiencing sleep apnea, as well!

We, Scleroderma patients are taking charge of our outcomes and improving our situations.

Not only are we seeing it in our own bodies, there's scientific research to back it up!

Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian has been conducting studies to document how yogic breathing can affect health conditions, to include Scleroderma. The results are fascinating. His website is full of information and he has published a book that is a great read, if you like the geeky stuff like we do! Dr. Sundar speaks about his findings annually at the Scleroderma National Conference and demonstrates how to do these breathing practices at home. These videos can be found on his website, here and for convenience, we've also linked them under the "Breathwork" tab with our own Yoga for Scleroderma Breathing videos..

Have you tried any of these practices yet? Need help? Feel free to reach out to us!