Sahaja yoga in the management of moderate to severe
asthma: a randomised controlled trial
R Manocha, G B Marks, P Kenchington, D Peters, C M Salome
Background: Sahaja Yoga is a traditional system of meditation based on yogic principles which may
be used for therapeutic purposes. A study was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of this therapy as
an adjunctive tool in the management of asthma in adult patients who remained symptomatic on mod-
erate to high doses of inhaled steroids.
Methods: A parallel group, double blind, randomised controlled trial was conducted. Subjects were
randomly allocated to Sahaja yoga and control intervention groups. Both the yoga and the control
interventions required the subjects to attend a 2 hour session once a week for 4 months. Asthma related
quality of life (AQLQ, range 0–4), Profile of Mood States (POMS), level of airway hyperresponsiveness
to methacholine (AHR), and a diary card based combined asthma score (CAS, range 0–12) reflecting
symptoms, bronchodilator usage, and peak expiratory flow rates were measured at the end of the
treatment period and again 2 months later.
Results: Twenty one of 30 subjects randomised to the yoga intervention and 26 of 29 subjects
randomised to the control group were available for assessment at the end of treatment. The improve-
ment in AHR at the end of treatment was 1.5 doubling doses (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.0 to 2.9,
p=0.047) greater in the yoga intervention group than in the control group. Differences in AQLQ score
(0.41, 95% CI –0.04 to 0.86) and CAS (0.9, 95% CI –0.9 to 2.7) were not significant (p>0.05). The
AQLQ mood subscale did improve more in the yoga group than in the control group (difference 0.63,
95% CI 0.06 to 1.20), as did the summary POMS score (difference 18.4, 95% CI 0.2 to 36.5,
p=0.05). There were no significant differences between the two groups at the 2 month follow up
Conclusions: This randomised controlled trial has shown that the practice of Sahaja yoga does have
limited beneficial effects on some objective and subjective measures of the impact of asthma. Further
work is required to understand the mechanism underlying the observed effects and to establish whether
elements of this intervention may be clinically valuable in patients with severe asthma.
Various psychological interventions have been implemented
in patients with asthma. At least one trial of hypnosis has
yielded a positive result,3but relaxation alone was not effective
in a recent trial.4Buteyko breathing, a method of controlled
breathing, has recently attracted attention in Australia and
some preliminary evidence suggests that it may have
beneficial effects.5Singh et al6have shown that regular use of a
device which slows breathing and changes the ratio of
inspiratory to expiratory time, in a manner equivalent to pra-
nayama yoga breathing methods, decreases airway hyperre-
sponsiveness (AHR) in asthmatic subjects.
Sahaja yoga is an Indian system of meditation based on tra-
ditional yogic principles which may be used for therapeutic
purposes. A small clinical trial of this therapy in patients with
asthma found evidence of improvement in lung function and
reduced frequency of “attacks”.7
The optimal management of patients with asthma who
remain symptomatic on moderate to high doses of inhaled
steroids remains undefined. Pharmacological alternatives
include further increases in the dose of inhaled steroids,addi-
tion of long acting β2agonists,8or introduction of leukotriene
receptor antagonists.9The role of non-pharmacological thera-
pies, including psychological and physical techniques, in this
context has not been well established to date.
pharmacological intervention, Sahaja yoga, as an adjunctive
tool in the management of asthma in adult patients who
here is a long history of psychosomatic theories for the
aetiology of asthma1and of investigations into the role of
anxiety and emotional states in outcomes of the disease.2
remained symptomatic on moderate to high doses of inhaled
steroids. In particular, we examined its effect on asthma
related quality of life,mood state,level of airway hyperrespon-
siveness, and a diary card based score reflecting symptoms,
bronchodilator usage, and peak expiratory flow (PEF) rates.
A parallel group,double blind,randomised controlled trial was
conducted. After a 2 week baseline assessment period,
subjects were randomly allocated to Sahaja yoga and control
intervention groups. Both the yoga and the control interven-
tions required the subjects to attend a 2 hour session once a
week for 4 months. Subjects were informed that the project
aimed to assess the relative effectiveness of two alternative
relaxation techniques for the management of asthma.
Outcome assessments were undertaken at the conclusion of
the 4 month intervention period and again 2 months later.
Allocation to groups was by randomised permuted blocks
with a block size of four. The allocation for each successive
subject was contained within a sealed envelope.
The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Ethics
Committees of the South Western Sydney Area Health Service
and the Central Sydney Area Health Service. Informed
consent was obtained from subjects prior to randomisation.
The aim was to select adult patients with asthma who
remained poorly controlled on moderate to high doses of
See end of article for
Dr G B Marks, Institute of
Respiratory Medicine, P O
Box M77, Camperdown,
NSW 2050, Australia;
Revised version received
5 July 2001
Accepted for publication
15 August 2001
inhaled steroids and who were amenable to the idea of a non-
pharmacological stress management intervention.
Subjects were recruited by newspaper advertisement
(n=850 responses), review of asthma clinic records (n=200
reviewed), and through local general practitioners (n=30
referrals). Subjects with asthma were eligible for inclusion in
the study if they were aged 16 or over and had a history of
asthma symptoms for a least 1 year. Other inclusion criteria
were: at least moderate to severe asthma as evidenced by a
combined asthma score of 7 or more out of 12 (see below)10;
airway hyperresponsiveness (PD20FEV1<12.2 µmol metha-
choline) or >15% FEV1bronchodilator response;daily inhaled
treatment with >1500 µg beclomethasone, 1200 µg budeso-
nide or 750 µg fluticasone for at least the preceding 6 weeks;
and stable asthma treatment for the preceding 6 weeks. Sub-
jects with a history of an exacerbation or respiratory tract
infections in the preceding 6 weeks, current smokers,
pregnant or lactating women, and those who could not com-
municate in English were excluded.
Sahaja yoga intervention
The key experience of Sahaja yoga meditation is a state called
“thoughtless awareness” or “mental silence” in which the
meditator is fully alert and aware but is free of any unneces-
sary mental activity. The Sahaja yoga session was conducted
by an experienced instructor who taught subjects how to
achieve this state by the use of silent psychological
affirmations. The weekly sessions involved meditation, in-
structional videos, personalised instruction, and discussion of
problems in relation to improving the experience of medita-
tion. Subjects were encouraged to achieve this state of mental
silence for a period of 10–20 minutes twice each day.
The control intervention included relaxation methods, group
discussion, and cognitive behaviour therapy-like exercises.
Relaxation methods involved positive affirmations such as “I
can breathe easily and without restriction”, progressive mus-
cle relaxation, and visualisation (focusing on seeing their
lungs breathing easily). Group discussion was semi-formal
and enabled participants to share experiences and develop a
sense of community. The cognitive behaviour therapy-like
exercises were designed to give the subject insight into the
way in which their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to stress
influenced the severity and perception of their illness. This
approach was based on a workbook on relaxation and stress
management techniques called Learning to Unwind.11The
sessions were conducted by an experienced instructor.
Subjects were encouraged to practise the techniques at home
for 10–20 minutes twice daily.
Both the yoga and control techniques were practised with
the subject seated. Treatment with inhaled steroids, long act-
ing β2agonists,and/or theophylline was continued unchanged
throughout the study period.
Outcome assessments at baseline, at the end of the interven-
tion, and 2 months after the end of the intervention were
undertaken by an investigator who was blind to the group
allocation of the subjects.
Subjects kept written diary cards to record twice daily PEF
rates,symptoms,and bronchodilator use for 2 week periods at
each assessment. Each of these was scored as shown in table
1. The combined asthma score,10the sum of these three com-
ponents, was then calculated for each subject for each assess-
ment period. The possible range of scores was 0–12. In
addition, mean morning peak flow (am PEF) and lowest peak
flow as a percentage of the highest peak flow (low%high) were
calculated for each diary card.
At each assessment subjects completed a questionnaire to
assess changes in medication compared with baseline. A
disease specific asthma quality of life questionnaire (AQLQ,
University of Sydney)12and a measure of mood states, the
Profile of Mood States (POMS),13were also administered.Total
AQLQ scores and subscale scores for breathlessness, mood
disturbance, social disruption, and concerns for health were
calculated on a scale of 0 (no impairment of quality of life) to
4 (maximum impairment). POMS scores for tension, depres-
sion, anger, vigour, fatigue, confusion, and a summary mood
score were calculated.
Spirometric function was measured at least 4 hours after
the last dose of short acting bronchodilator and 12 hours after
the last dose of long acting bronchodilator. A methacholine
challenge test was performed to assess airway responsiveness
in subjects who did not have severe airflow obstruction (gen-
erally, FEV1>60% predicted14) at baseline. The challenge was
performed by the rapid method using a hand held DeVilbiss
No 45 nebuliser to administer cumulative doses of metha-
choline in the doses of 0.1–12.2 µmol.15The provoking dose
required to cause a 20% reduction in FEV1from the post-saline
value (PD20FEV1) was measured by linear interpolation on a
log-dose response curve or by linear extrapolation to a maxi-
mum of twice the final dose administered. All extrapolated
values greater than this were assigned a value of twice the
final cumulative dose. Values of PD20FEV1were log trans-
formed for analysis. Change in PD20FEV1was expressed in
units of doubling doses.
Data analysis and sample size
Analysis was by intention to treat. Primary outcome variables
were the combined asthma score, the AQLQ (Total) score, and
PD20FEV1. All other outcomes were secondary outcome
All outcomes measured at the conclusion of the interven-
tion and 2 months later were expressed as changes from base-
line. Between group differences in these changes were
calculated, together with 95% confidence intervals. The
changes were compared by the unpaired (two sample) t test.
For non-normally distributed data Wilcoxon’s non-parametric
test was used to check the results of the parametric analysis.
Scoring key for diary card recordings of symptoms, bronchodilator usage, and peak expiratory flow (PEF)
Min morning PEF
as % of best*
No night symptoms; daytime symptoms <2 times (in 2/52)
No night symptoms; daytime symptoms >2 times but <10 times
Night symptoms <2 times (in 2/52) OR daytime symptoms >10
times (in 2/52)
Daytime symptoms every day OR night symptoms >2 times
Used on <2 days (in 2/52)
Used on >2 days but <10 days (in 2/52)
>85 and <93%
>78 and <85%
3Used on >10 days, average 1–2 times/day>70 and <78%
4 Used on >10 days, average 3 times or more per day
*“Best” includes clinic spirometric tests and all PEF records.
Sahaja yoga in the management of asthma111
Details of subjects’ record of attendance at the Sahaja yoga
and control group sessions were quantified to assess
We estimated that a sample size of 25 in each group would
allow us to detect a difference between groups in PD20of one
doubling dose with 80% power (α = 0.05). This sample size
would also be sufficient to detect a clinically meaningful
difference in AQLQ scores between the groups.16To ensure 25
subjects were available for evaluation we planned to ran-
domise 30 subjects into each group.
Of 120 subjects who appeared suitable for the study on the
basis of initial telephone interview, 59 eligible subjects were
finally randomised: 30 to the Sahaja yoga intervention and 29
to the control arm. Nine subjects randomised to the yoga
intervention and three subjects randomised to the control
group withdrew before the end of treatment assessment. No
outcome data are available for these subjects. The reasons for
withdrawal are shown in table 2.
Differences at baseline between the randomisation groups
and between those who did and did not complete the end of
treatment assessment are shown in table 3. Subjects in the
yoga group had slightly higher (worse) scores on the mood
subscale of the AQLQ and higher PEF values (low%high) than
those in the control group. Five subjects in each group were
using long acting β2agonists and one subject in each group
was taking theophylline.
Of the 21 subjects in the yoga group who had the end of
treatment assessment, five did not have a methacholine chal-
lenge at baseline (all because of a pre-test FEV1of <60% pre-
dicted), four did not have a challenge at the end of treatment
(two because of a pre-test FEV1of <60% predicted), and six
did not have a challenge at end of the 2 month follow up
period (four because of a pre-test FEV1of <60% predicted).Of
the 26 control group subjects who had the end of treatment
assessment, one was lost to follow up before the 2 month fol-
low up assessment and one did not complete the diary cards or
questionnaires at the end of the treatment period or the 2
month follow up period. In addition, seven did not have a
methacholine challenge test at baseline (six because of a pre-
test FEV1of <60% predicted),eight did not have a challenge at
the end of the treatment period (seven because of a pre-test
FEV1<60% predicted), and nine of the continuing partici-
pants did not have a challenge at the end of the 2 month fol-
low up period (eight because of a pre-test FEV1of <60% pre-
Adherence to the intervention
Twenty of the 21 subjects in the yoga intervention group who
had the end of treatment assessment attended at least eight of
the 16 yoga sessions. Seventeen of these attended 12 or more
sessions and five attended all 16 sessions.In the control group
19 of the 26 who had the end of treatment assessment
attended at least eight sessions, 17 attended 12 or more
sessions, and 12 attended all 16 sessions.
Principal outcome measures
At the end of the treatment period the level of AHR had
improved by 1.6 doubling doses (95% confidence interval (CI)
0.6 to 2.7) in the yoga intervention group and by 0.2 doubling
doses (95% CI−0.8 to 1.2) in the control group (p=0.047 for
between group difference).The difference between the groups
was no longer significant 2 months after the end of treatment
(fig 1, table 4).
The exclusion of data for occasions when methacholine
challenge tests could not be performed because of low lung
function potentially could have biased this analysis of change
in AHR. In a sensitivity analysis the change in PD20FEV1was
re-calculated with PD20FEV1assigned to a value of 0.1 µmol
(equivalent to severe AHR) for those occasions when a
challenge was not performed because the pre-test FEV1was
<60% predicted. The findings of this sensitivity analysis were
similar to those of the primary analysis. This analysis showed
that,at the end of treatment,the improvement in AHR was 1.9
doubling doses greater in the yoga intervention group than in
Reasons for withdrawal of subjects from the
Illness unrelated to intervention
Disliked the intervention
Changed management regimen
Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics of study subjects
Mean age (years)
Duration of asthma (years)
Mean inhaled steroid dose (µg)†
Mean FEV1(% predicted)
Mean FEV1/FVC ratio
Mean AQLQ Total score
Mean AQLQ Breathlessness score
Mean AQLQ Mood score
Mean AQLQ Social score
Mean AQLQ Concerns score
Mean morning peak flow
Peak flow (low % high)
CAS‡ (max 12)
1.20 (n = 22)
1.51 (n = 16)
1.21 (n = 22)
1.29 (n = 19)
FEV1= forced expiratory volume in 1 second; FVC = forced vital capacity; AQLQ = asthma related quality of
life questionnaire; CAS = combined asthma score; PD20FEV1= dose of methacholine provoking a fall in FEV1
of 20% or more. *Subjects who had outcome assessments performed at the end of the treatment period.
†Daily dose of inhaled steroids in beclomethasone µg equivalents. These were calculated on the assumption
that beclomethasone 2000 µg = budesonide 1600 µg = fluticasone 1000 µg. ‡Median values.
112 Manocha, Marks, Kenchington, et al
the control group (95% CI 0.7 to 3.4, p=0.004). At the end of
the 2 month follow up period the improvement in AHR, esti-
mated in this sensitivity analysis, was 1.2 doubling doses
greater in the yoga intervention group than in the control
group (95% CI –0.4 to 2.8, p=0.1).
The improvement in AQLQ score at the end of the treatment
period was 0.41 units greater in the yoga group than in the
control group. This difference just failed to reach statistical
significance (p=0.07).There was no between group difference
in the change in AQLQ scores 2 months after the intervention
was completed (table 4). There was no difference between the
two groups in the CAS either at the end of the treatment
period or at the 2 month follow up assessment.
Secondary outcome measures
Examination of the subscale scores from the AQLQ reveals
that the major impact of yoga was on the “mood”subscale (fig
2). At the end of treatment there was significantly greater
improvement in this subscale in the yoga group than in the
control group. A slightly lesser difference, which just failed to
reach statistical significance, was still evident 2 months after
the end of treatment. The “breathlessness” subscale tended to
reflect greater benefits from the yoga intervention than the
“social” or “concerns” subscales.
At the end of the intervention period the yoga group had
greater beneficial changes in POMS tension and fatigue scales
and in the summary mood measure than the control group
(fig 2).However,at the follow up examination,although there
were similar trends in these scales, the differences were no
PD20FEV1(µmol methacholine) at baseline, at the end of the
intervention, and 2 months after the end of the intervention in the
yoga group (triangles, solid line) and the control group (circles,
broken line) are shown. The reference line indicates a value of
12.2 µmol, the maximum dose of methacholine administered during
the challenges. Values above this line were calculated by
Changes in airway responsiveness to methacholine.
??????????? ?? ??????????????? ?? ?????? ??
the intervention (A and C) and 2 months after the end of the intervention (B and D) in the yoga group (filled circles) and the control group (open
circles). The diamond indicates the mean difference between the two groups (change in yoga group – change in control group) and the error
bars represent the 95% confidence interval around the mean difference. A positive change in the AQLQ score indicates an improvement in
quality of life. A positive change in the POMS component scores indicates a reduction in the attribute (that is, an improvement in all scales
except vigour). A positive change in the total POMS score indicates an improvement in mood.
(A), (B) Changes in Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire score (AQLQ) and (C), (D) Profile of Moods States (POMS) at the end of
??? ?? ????????????
??? ?????? ????? ????????????
??? ?? ????????????
? ?? ???? ??
??? ?????? ????? ????????????
? ?? ?? ????
Sahaja yoga in the management of asthma 113
There were no significant changes in lung function as
measured by spirometric tests during clinic visits or as
measured by peak flow at home (table 4).
Sahaja yoga improved AHR and some aspects of impairment
of AQLQ and mood in patients with asthma who had
remained symptomatic despite treatment with moderate to
high dose inhaled steroids for at least 6 weeks. The benefits of
yoga on these outcomes were greater than the benefits of
relaxation alone. The magnitude of the beneficial change in
AHR due to the yoga intervention in this study was
approximately equivalent to that attributed to inhaled
corticosteroids in patients with asthma in previous studies.17
However, these improvements were not accompanied by
changes in lung function or symptoms recorded by diary card
and appeared to wane over a period of 2 months after the
The conclusions of this study are generalisable to subjects
with symptomatic asthma who express interest in the
non-pharmacological therapies but may not be applicable to
patients who are antipathetic to this form of treatment.
Although the use of complementary treatments for asthma is
not frequently reported to treating doctors, their use was
common among members of the UK’s National Asthma
Campaign18in which 30% of respondents reported that they
had used breathing techniques to relieve symptoms.19
It is important to note that the role of yoga was assessed as
an adjunctive treatment. All subjects had been taking the
equivalent of beclomethasone 1500 µg /day for at least 6 weeks
before randomisation and they continued on this treatment
throughout the intervention and follow up period. Hence, the
benefits of yoga are additional to the benefits of inhaled ster-
oids. We have not tested the role of yoga as a replacement for
inhaled steroids and cannot deduce whether the beneficial
effects of yoga require the simultaneous use of inhaled
One of the strengths of this study is the use of a plausible
control intervention. The relatively good adherence to the
intervention by the control group participants is evidence of
our success in blinding participants to the active versus
control status of the alternative intervention groups. Unex-
pected substantial improvements in symptom scores and
quality of life in the control group, presumably due to
non-specific effects of both interventions and the trial itself,
may have limited our ability to detect further benefits which
were specific to the Sahaja yoga intervention.
There was a larger than expected loss to follow up in yoga
treatment group. The availability of outcome data on only 21
subjects in this group was less than the 25 estimated in the
sample size calculations. This left the study slightly under-
powered and, hence, the failure to detect a significant
treatment effect on AQLQ (Total) score may be a type II error.
The higher than expected dropout rate in the yoga
treatment group does introduce a potential problem with bias
due to selective withdrawal of subjects who were not benefit-
ing from the intervention. However, most of these withdraw-
als occurred soon after randomisation and are therefore
unlikely to be related to the effectiveness of the intervention.
Among those who did reach the end of treatment
assessment, compliance with the yoga and control treatments
was good. Most subjects attended most of the sessions. How-
ever, we do not have any quantitative data on adherence to
yoga practices between the actual sessions or during the post-
intervention follow up period. We have anecdotal evidence to
suggest that there was poor maintenance of meditation prac-
tices after the end of the intervention period. It is likely that
this explains the lack of efficacy at the follow up assessment.
The findings reported here lend some support to the
conclusions of a previous small randomised controlled trial of
Change from baseline in outcome measures
End of intervention
Two months after intervention
Difference* (95% CI)
Difference* (95% CI)
Combined Asthma Score (max score 12)
0.9 (–0.9 to 2.7)
–0.5 (–2.2 to 1.2)
AQLQ (Total) (max score 4)
0.41 (–0.04 to 0.86)
0.25 (–0.21 to 0.72)
–1.46 (–2.89 to –0.02)
–0.84 (–2.37 to 0.70)
–4.8 (–13.1 to 3.5)
1.0 (–8.1 to 10.1)
–0.011 (–0.047 to 0.024)
–0.031 (–0.085 to 0.023)
Morning PEF (l/min)
–0.7 (–18.4 to 17.0)
3.1 (–13.0 to 19.1)
PEF (low % high)
–0.1 (–6.1 to 5.8)
4.0 (–3.4 to 11.4)
AQLQ = asthma related quality of life questionnaire; FEV1= forced expiratory volume in 1 second; FVC = forced vital capacity; PD20FEV1= dose of methacholine provoking a fall in FEV1of 20% or more.
*Change in yoga group – change in control group, differences tested by unpaired (two sample) t test.
114Manocha, Marks, Kenchington, et al
the effectiveness of Sahaja yoga in the management of asthma
in adult women.7In nine patients randomised to the
intervention group the FEV1/FVC ratio increased from 48% at
baseline to 66% at the conclusion of the 4 month intervention
period. Over the same period the spirometric ratio did not
change in nine control subjects (p<0.001). Subjects in the
intervention group had an average of 5.8 “acute attacks” dur-
ing the treatment period compared with 12.9 “acute attacks”
over the same period in the controls (p<0.001).
Meditation is designed to help the individual develop a state
of mind which is positive or benevolent towards oneself and
others.The ideal state of mind has been described as “Sahaja”,
meaning spontaneous or effortless. The experience of medita-
tion is essentially the Sahaja state.The yogic tradition encour-
ages aspirants to pursue the awakening of an energy,
traditionally known as “kundalini”, that facilitates the
achievement of the Sahaja state. The meditative experience is
characterised by a sensation of normal, or even heightened,
alertness in conjunction with a state of complete mental
silence. This is associated with a sense of relaxation and posi-
tive mood and a feeling of benevolence towards oneself and
others. Meditation by the Sahaja yoga technique is, according
to tradition, an innately therapeutic process which is
beneficial for all chronic diseases, mental or physical,
There are alternative explanations for the observed benefit.
Many yoga and meditation practices include exercises
designed to alter the pattern of breathing. Subjects in this
study were given no explicit instructions about controlling
their breathing pattern and we did not measure ventilation.
However, previous studies have shown that tidal volume and
frequency may be reduced during and following a period of
meditation.20 21Mild hypoventilation has a number of physio-
logical consequences which could have affected our results.
Proponents of the Buteyko breathing technique claim that
asthma is associated with chronic hyperventilation and
consequent hypocapnia, and propose that exercises which
reduce minute ventilation are likely to be beneficial.22In the
only published controlled trial of the Buteyko breathing
technique5asthmatics receiving active treatment had signifi-
cant reductions in β2agonist use, suggesting that the breath-
ing exercises reduced asthma symptoms. However, the
breathing exercises had no effect on end tidal carbon dioxide
pressure, suggesting that the mechanism of the effect is
unlikely to be via a reduction in hypocapnia.
An alternative hypothesis may be that altering the pattern
of breathing alters AHR by a direct effect on the dynamics of
airway smooth muscle. Recent observations have led to the
suggestion that the shortening velocity of airway smooth
muscle may be an important determinant of AHR.23 24In addi-
tion, there is in vitro evidence which suggests that airway
smooth muscle shortening velocity may be affected directly by
the volume of tidal breathing.25In this model, decreasing tidal
the smooth muscle and leads to reductions in actin-myosin
crossbridge cycling rates and shortening velocity of the mus-
cle,with a subsequent reduction in the amount of airway nar-
rowing for a given stimulus.This model has not been tested in
humans but provides a plausible explanation whereby
changes in breathing pattern might alter AHR.
In conclusion, this randomised controlled trial has shown
that, inpatientswho express
pharmacological treatments for asthma,the practice of Sahaja
yoga does have limited beneficial effects on some objective and
subjective measures of the impact of asthma. Potential expla-
nations include an effect on the flow of “vital energy” accord-
ing to the traditional yogic system or an effect on airway
smooth muscle dynamics. While many will be sceptical of the
yogic explanation for these observations, it is possible that
further study of the effect of yogic meditation practices and
altered breathing patterns in subjects with asthma may eluci-
date new non-pharmacological strategies to assist in the con-
trol of the manifestations of this condition.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Greg Turek,
Peter Aerfeldt, Andrew Jones, Jelena Lemaic, Anne Stuckey, and Aly-
son Roberts in conducting this study.
R Manocha, Natural Therapies Unit, Royal Hospital for Women, NSW,
G B Marks, C M Salome, Institute of Respiratory Medicine, University of
Sydney, NSW, Australia
G B Marks, South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New
South Wales, NSW, Australia
P Kenchington, Concord Psychiatry Unit, NSW, Australia
Support: Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners (Trainee
Scholarship and Research Fund).
1 Groen J. The psychosomatic theory of bronchial asthma. Psychother
2 Jones N, Kinsman R, Dirks J, et al. Psychological contributions to
chronicity in asthma: patient response styles influencing medical treatment
and its outcome. Med Care 1979;17:1103–18.
3 Ewer T, Stewart D. Improvement in bronchial hyper-responsiveness in
patients with moderate asthma after treatment with a hypnotic technique:
a randomised controlled trial. BMJ 1986;293:1129–32.
4 Lehrer P, Hochron S, Mayne T, et al. Relaxation and music therapies for
asthma among patients prestabilized on asthma medication. J Behav
5 Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. Buteyko breathing techniques in
asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust
6 Singh V, Wisniewski A, Britton J, et al. Effect of yoga breathing
exercises (pranayama) on airway reactivity in subjects with asthma.
7 Rai U, Wells B. Role of Sahaja yoga in asthma. In: XVI World Congress
on diseases of the chest. Boston: 1989.
8 Woolcock A, Lundback B, Ringdal N, et al. Comparison of addition of
salmeterol to inhaled steroids with doubling of the dose of inhaled
steroids. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1996;153:1481–8.
9 Horwitz R, McGill K, Busse K. The role of leukotriene receptor modifiers
in the treatment of asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med
10 Reddel H, Trevillion L, Salome C, et al. A scoring system for mild to
severe asthma. Aust NZ J Med 1995;25:423.
11 Browne WJ. Learning to unwind. A workbook on relaxation and stress
mangement techniques. Sydney: Health Media and Education Centre,
12 Marks G, Dunn S, Woolcock A. A scale for the measurement of quality
of life in adults with asthma. J Clin Epidemiol 1992;45:461–72.
13 McNair D, Lorr M, Droppleman L. POMS Manual - Profile Of Mood
States. San Diego, CA: EdITS/Educational and Industrial Testing Service,
14 Quanjer P, Tammeling G, Cotes J, et al. Lung volumes and forced
ventilatory flows. Eur Respir J 1993;6(suppl):5–40.
15 Yan K, Salome C, Woolcock A. Rapid method for measurement of
bronchial responsiveness. Thorax 1983;38:760–5.
16 Marks G, Dunn S, Woolcock A. An evaluation of an asthma quality of
life questionnaire as a measure of change in adults with asthma. J Clin
17 Haahtela T, Jarvinen M, Kava T, et al. Comparison of a β2agonist,
terbutaline, with an inhaled corticosteroid, budesonide, in newly detected
asthma. N Engl J Med 1991;325:388–92.
18 Ernst E. Complementary therapies for asthma: what patients use. J
19 Ernst E. Breathing techniques: adjunctive treatment modalities for
asthma? A systematic review. Eur Respir J 2000;15:969–72.
20 Sudsuang R, Chentanez V, Veluvan K. Effect of Buddhist meditation on
serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung
volume and reaction time. Physiol Behav 1991;50:543–8.
21 Kesterson J, Clinch N. Metabolic rate, respiratory exchange ratio and
apneas during meditation. Am J Physiol 1989;256:632–8.
22 Stalmatski A. Freedom from asthma: Buteyko’s revolutionary treatment.
London: KyleCathie Ltd, 1997.
23 Solway J, Fredberg J. Perhaps airway smooth muscle dysfunction
contributes to asthmatic bronchial hyperresponsiveness after all. Am J
Respir Cell Mol Biol 1997;17:144–6.
24 Duguet A, Biyah K, Minshall E, et al. Bronchial responsiveness among
inbred mouse strains. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2000;161:839–48.
25 Fredberg J, Inouye D, Mijailovich S, et al. Perturbed equilibrium of
myosin binding in airway smooth muscle and its implication in
bronchospasm. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999;159:959–67.
Sahaja yoga in the management of asthma115