Patients with LAM, a rare cystic lung disease in women, experience dyspnea, fatigue, and limitations in ability to exercise. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a critical part of the disease management. A clinical study in Beijing confirmed the benefits of traditional hatha yoga for LAM patients. During the 24 weeks of the study, 13 patients in a yoga group received 90-minute training sessions per week in addition to home exercises (at least twice a week, no less than 15 minutes each), while a “no yoga” control group consisted of another 13 patients. Compared with the control group, the yoga group achieved an additional 37 meters in its six-minute walking test. Improvements were demonstrated in anaerobic threshold and peak work load, in exercise cardiopulmonary tests. There were no adverse events found during the study.
The program has been labeled as “LAM yoga”. Ms Yuxia Liu, a participant of the study, said LAM yoga is an elegant and strenuous exercise. She has been overly cautious with exercise after her diagnosis of LAM, out of concern for a recurrence of a pneumothorax. After an extended period without exercise, she found she lost the capacity to exercise because of obvious exertional dyspnea. LAM yoga gave her the confidence and capability to exercise again by not only improving her capacity, but also making her more positive and optimistic in life. Her quality of life improved dramatically after she joined the LAM yoga program.
The LAM yoga training program has been specifically designed for its patients. Ms Yi Zu, an experienced yoga instructor who led the program, believes that the human body has a strong self-healing potential. Yoga establishes a link of respiration, soul, and body, and inspires the recovery process. With long-term training, many patients can experience previously unbelievable changes.
As treatment resources are extremely limited for rare diseases such as LAM, treatments such as yoga can provide a real benefit to patients’ physical and mental health.