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7 Health benefits of Pranayama | Breathing yoga

May 19, 2020

“Just Breathe”, one says these words to themselves or somebody else who needs to take a step back or a pause in order to settle down. Breathing is an uncontrolled process that one does every day without even thinking about it. These two words also elucidate the fact that concentrating on one’s timing and trot of breathing has beneficial effects on their mind as well as their body.
 

How does breathing benefit in reducing stress?

Every being on the planet earth is rigged with a thing called the “acute stress response” system also known as “fight or flight response”. The most amusing thing about this response system is that it is usually brought about by events that pose no urgent survival risks.
In today’s world, the modern person is far away from the organic phenomenon of eat-or-get eaten, that other living beings confront every day. The circumstances that cause one’s stress response may be unpleasant, but most of them will not kill them. Since one’s acute stress response system cannot differentiate between the menace of a wild animal and the threat posed by a performance review; they have to discover other ways in order to comfort their stress response system.
Fortunately, a person’s body is equipped with an innate stress-calming system: their breathing. Regular and deep breathing calms one’s nerves by conveying that the intimidating circumstance has passed.
 

What is yoga breathing or Pranayam?

Yoga breathing or pranayama is a combination of two different Sanskrit word “parana” and “yama”, which directly translates to controlling the life force. Practicing pranayama or  yoga breathing helps one to increase their body awareness and energy along with reduced respiratory rate which reduces stress and grants a foundation for relaxing.
Training to extend and control one’s breathing benefits them in many aspects such as stamina, concentration, stress, and the like. Using pranayama or yoga breathing for energy imparts one the boost they need. Furthermore, practicing yoga breathing or pranayama promotes higher oxidation of blood along with an increase in the anti-inflammatory molecule namely Nitric Oxide (NO).

See Also Pranayama Activities to Heal Your Sleep Disorders


Health benefits of pranayama

  1. Asthma relief: Practicing yoga breathing or pranayama facilitates one with a slow respiratory rate along with stress relief, which is very profitable for individuals with breathing problems like asthma. These practices help one to cope and manage symptoms of asthma to some extent which enables them to have small improvements in their quality of life.

  2. Stress management: Sometimes certain situations that do not present any risk to one’s survival give rise to problems such as health issues, lack of sleep, and the like. Using yoga breathing or pranayama for stress management in such situations helps them to relax and calm their mind and body.

  3. Weight loss: Practicing pranayama or yoga for weight-loss aids one by preventing their expenditure on weight-loss plans, workouts and equipment. These practices elevate metabolism and promote massage of the abdominal area, which helps one in losing weight without any costly expenses.

  4. Stable heart rate: Breathing promotes the generation of anti-inflammatory molecules called nitric oxide (NO). This molecule is responsible for the management of contraction of blood vessels and it also promotes the proper flow of blood. Furthermore, it also lowers the pressure on the pulmonary artery which helps to stabilize the heart rate of an individual and relieves inflammatory disorder of the airways.

  5.  Improve digestion: yoga breathing or pranayama helps one with digestive issues (yoga poses for indigestion), as certain breathing exercises help stimulate the digestive organs which relieve them of their distress.

  6. Brain activity: The amount of oxygen supplied to one’s brain depends on the pace of their breathing. Practicing Pranayam or yoga breathing for brain activity is really beneficial because an individual with a slow respiratory rate is more focused and calm whereas, a person breathing rapidly or panting is susceptible to fear and anxiety. Therefore, if desirable, one can diminish fear and anxiety via controlling or slowing down their breathing.

  7. Energy levels: Using pranayama or yoga breathing energy boosts is considered really useful as it increases the oxygen levels in the blood which imparts one with the sensation of refreshment, thus resulting in increased concentration and energy.

    See Also Pranayama Activities to Heal Your Sleep Disorders


Pranayama for Beginners

  1. Natural breath: The natural breath is the one that an individual takes when they are not trying to change anything or when they are just simply breathing without doing anything else. For about a time period of 5 minutes close your eyes and just strictly monitor your natural breath, without attempting to breathe, because it conveys one’s emotional, mental, and physical state. It is best to perform this exercise before or after any event or workout, as it helps one in focusing their mind and body. It can be used at any-time and at anyplace to promote stress relief and relaxation.

  2. Kapalabhati: this pranayama activity precisely means “skull shining breath”. Start by taking some clearing breaths to focus (in a seated position), then profoundly inhale from your nostrils along with enlarging your belly. Now, exhale sharply and press your belly button towards your spine. Repeat this process 25-30 times at a constant pace. This exercise is extremely useful for tightening the abdominal muscles and clearing out airways, it also gives you a boost of energy.

  3. Simah pranayama: It is also known as the “lion’s breath”. In a seated position, exhale with your mouth open and tongue sticking out while making a “haa” noise from the back of larynx. Stretch your eyes (toward your third eye) along with the rest of the facial muscles while exhaling. Inhale profoundly without stretching any of the face muscles. Repeat this process for 10-15 rounds or 2 minutes. The benefits of this exercise include improved circulation throughout the body, relieved facial tension, and activated throat chakra.

    See Also Pranayama Activities to Heal Your Sleep Disorders


Pranayama exercises

  1. Anulom vilom: Begin in a seated lotus position, close your left nostril (with any finger comfortable) and smoothly inhale from your right nostril. Now, close your right nostril (with any finger comfortable) and exhale from your left nostril. Switch sides and repeat this process for 15-20 minutes for promising results. This exercise cures constipation (yoga for constipation), increases energy, balances hormones, and cleans the sinuses.

  2. Sukasan: While being in a seated (crossed legs) position, stretch your arms over your head and hold for a few seconds while breathing slowly. Lower your arms and repeat. This method of pranayam helps one to focus on their breath and clear out toxic thoughts. It is very useful for dealing with asthma.

  3. Forward bend: Start in a standing position, legs hips-span apart. Slowly start bending your upper body forward until your forehead touches your knees (bend your keens to ease any lower back pain). Close your eyes and take 4 deep breaths with your body hanging and arms at your heels. Repeat is you feel the need to do it again. This pose enables ease in breathing via opening up one’s chest and it also promotes stretching of lower back muscles.

  4. Surya namaskar: Suryanamaskar or sun salutation is a twelve-step exercise. Each of the postures promotes toning of body muscles and if performed with accuracy it also provides stress relief and weight loss.

  5. Cobra pose: Begin in a seated position on a chair with your feet on the ground, grab the back of the chair, and start leaning forward while straightening your elbows and pulling your should back. While holding this posture breathe in and out slowly. Repeat as many times as you like. This posture stretches one’s chest and neck muscles, relieving tension from these areas.

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