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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 20 (2013), Issue 2, Pages e17-e23
Original Article

An Assessment of the Effects of Iyengar Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Quality of Life of Patients with Chronic Respiratory Diseases: A Pilot Study

Maria-Jose Santana,1,2 Julia S-Parrilla,2 Judith Mirus,2 Martha A Loadman,2 Dale C Lien,2 and David Feeny3

1Research and Innovation Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
2Lung Transplant Program, University of Alberta Hospital, University of Alberta, Canada
3University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of an Iyengar yoga program (IYP) on patients with chronic respiratory diseases.

METHODS: Patients attending lung transplant clinics in a tertiary institution were invited to participate in a two-phase, 12-week IYP that included 2 h biweekly classes. Doctors completed a formal physical and clinical assessment on candidates before enrollment. Patients with New York Association Class III or IV, or dyspnea grade IV were excluded. At baseline and at the end of 12-weeks, patients completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ) and Health Utilities Index (HUI). Medication(s), 6 min walk test results and other clinical parameters were also recorded. Patients recorded the effects of the IYP on their daily living in journals. Nonparametric and qualitative methods were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS: Twenty-five patients diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (mean age 60 years) were invited to participate. At the end of the 12-week period, changes in HADS anxiety and CRQ fatigue scores were statistically significant (P<0.05) and changes in HUI ambulation, pain, emotion and overall score were clinically important. The content of the journals revealed patients’ improvement in breathing capacity, mobility, energy, sleep and included positive feedback such as: “increased tidal volume with slowing expiration”, “I have an overall feeling of wellbeing” and “excellent amount of energy”.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that yoga has significant potential to produce benefits. Potential benefits will be further explored in a national multisite study.