Even so, experts from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) noted that if it makes people with asthma feel better they should continue to practice it.
"Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms," Dr. Michael Foggs, an allergist and ACAAI president, explained in a news release from the organization. "If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it. At the same time, we don't advise that yoga be recommended to asthma sufferers as a treatment."
The researchers analyzed 14 previous studies involving 824 adults from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, to find out if yoga could help treat symptoms of asthma and improve the lung function and quality of life for people with the respiratory condition.
"We reviewed the available data to see if it made a difference and found only weak evidence that it does," study author Holger Cramer, director of yoga research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, said in the news release. "Yoga can't be considered a routine intervention [treatment] for patients with asthma at this time. But it can be considered an alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients interested in complementary interventions."
Experts point out that prevention strategies are key to managing asthma. People with the condition should work with their allergist to identify their asthma triggers and avoid them. Possible asthma triggers include allergens, respiratory infections and cold temperatures.
For those with unpredictable asthma that flares up at least twice a week, there are medications that can be taken long-term to keep the condition under control. Allergic asthma can also be treated with allergy shots if the allergens can't be avoided.
The findings were published in the June issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more information on asthma.