Science and Benefits of Pranayama

“Breath is central to Yoga because it is central to life.”
T. Krishnamacharya

The word Pranayama is originated from Sanskrit language and is composed of the two Sanskrit words ‘Prana’ and ‘ayama’. Prana indicates vital energy or life force ‘the breath’ while ayama means to draw out. In this way, Pranayama means “the extension of life force”. Pranayama is one of the most important of the yoga disciplines whose origin lies in the ancient Bharat, the present day India or Hinduism. Pranayama is linked with controlling the breath and involves several physical techniques that result in the clearing of granthis or nadi blockages in the body, both physical and emotional. Regular sustained practice of Pranayama allows the body freedom to breathe through the flow of prana – the life energy through the body.

Pranayama is essential to our daily practice and thus, must be taught all across the world both in the west and east. In a similar manner, our yoga studio “Bend it like Buddha” offers a variety of approaches to Pranayama in our 200 hour teacher training courses and other yoga courses. Soon we will be sharing these techniques in the yoga teacher training online. Pranayama lies at the heart of yoga and so is given the extreme importance in our yoga studio. The vital force called prana that is circulating through us can be channeled by means of breathing exercises and working with bandhas. Pranayama, for this reason, can be considered as a bridge between the practices of yoga – the outward and the surrendering practices leading towards the deep states of meditation. For different pranic activities in the body, there altogether are the five types of prana. They include Apana, Udana, Prana, Samana and Vyan among which Apana, the downward flowing, and Prana, the upward flowing, are considered as of great importance.

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Practicing Pranayama is linked with balancing the pranas that further results in a healthy mind and body. The different types of Pranayama have a wide range of benefits associated with them. The benefits include improving circulation of blood, concentration, relieving depression, stress, anxiety and hypertension (Hegde et al., 2012). Besides neurological problems, Pranayama further helps in curing headache, asthma, migraine and gastric problems. Our school Bend it like Buddha in praia da rocha beach, Portimao in Portugal offers several Pranayama and yoga related courses based on the fact that longevity depends on breathing rate. Lowering of breathing rate is likely to increase life expectancy. Pranayama, on the whole, is associated with better functioning of the autonomic system. By practicing Pranayama toxins are removed from the body and organs get more oxygen. Various diseases, in this way, are prevented that further results in strengthening the immune system (Vialatte et al., 2009).

The science of relaxation is a valuable gift and researches have also revealed the scientific benefit of Pranayama. Much of what Pranayama does to the human mind and body is due to its effect on the autonomic nervous system that controls the physical processes in the body including immune function, respiration and digestion etc. (Sengupta, 2012). A study involving five minute breathing practice has revealed that Pranayama lowers the heart rate, diastolic and systolic pressure (Pramanik et al., 2009). Another breathing practice, known as Brahmari or humming bee breath that sometimes involves placement of the fingers close to the eyes and the mouth and production of buzzing sound through the nose, has been observed increasing the activity of the brain. In another research, it has been highlighted that even a short period of Pranayama yoga practice results in curing hypertension (Vialatte et al., 2009). Diaphragmatic breathing is observed associated with lowering the oxidative stress and improving the antioxidant level significantly benefiting those with diabetes. Besides this, relaxed abdominal breathing has also been observed benefiting patients with non-erosive GERD, decreasing their stomach acidity and thus, improving the quality of life (Eherer et al., 2012).

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The above-discussed research studies proved to be the scientific evidence of considering Pranayama yoga as a valid therapy to improve one’s health and well-being. Pranayama at our yoga studio will help you balance the energy flow in all areas of the body evenly while improving the cognitive functions. Ask us about Bend it like Buddha online or in-person Pranayama and Breath work courses. We will be happy to share with you some effective and calming breathing techniques to improve your life and lower your stress levels significantly with daily practice.

References

  • Eherer, A.J., Netolitzky, F., Högenauer, C., Puschnig, G., Hinterleitner, T.A., Scheidl, S., Kraxner, W., Krejs, G.J. and Hoffmann, K.M., 2012. The positive effect of abdominal breathing exercise on gastroesophageal reflux disease: a randomized, controlled study. The American journal of gastroenterology, 107(3), p.372.
  • Hegde, S.V., Adhikari, P., Subbalakshmi, N.K., Nandini, M., Rao, G.M. and D’Souza, V., 2012. Diaphragmatic breathing exercise as a therapeutic intervention for control of oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 18(3), pp.151-153.
  • Pramanik, T., Sharma, H.O., Mishra, S., Mishra, A., Prajapati, R. and Singh, S., 2009. Immediate effect of slow pace bhastrika pranayama on blood pressure and heart rate. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(3), pp.293-295.
  • Sengupta, P., 2012. Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review. International journal of preventive medicine, 3(7), p.444.
  • Vialatte, F.B., Bakardjian, H., Prasad, R. and Cichocki, A., 2009. EEG paroxysmal gamma waves during Bhramari Pranayama: a yoga breathing technique. Consciousness and cognition, 18(4), pp.977-988.

The Science and Benefits of Chanting Mantras  

Mantra is also becoming more popular with spiritual practices like meditation and yoga. Considering the benefits of mantra, we chant Sanskrit mantras at our yoga studio. Our school was started as a yoga co-op by our community of yoga teachers. Bend It Like Buddha team is a yoga family that offers Yoga retreats, Ayurveda Massage courses and 200 hour teacher courses to the students at some of the most stunning locations. The word ‘Mantra’ is comprised of two different words ‘mind’ and ‘tra’.  Mantra can be considered as an instrument of the mind and probably a vibration or sound powerful enough to make a person enter into the deepest state of meditation. A mantra can be considered as a seed that results in activating the intensions or Sankalpa. Mantra, in a yoga setting, is sometimes used in silent repetition to keep the mind focused and connected to a particular state. Some of the earliest mantras were composed by Hindus in India, commonly known as Sanskrit Mantras, at least 3000 years ago. 

 

Chanting mantras is one of the ancient spiritual practices of experiencing divine love and light. Chanting is a process of gathering the divine and spiritual energies that help in the transformation of different life issues thus benefiting each and every aspect of life. Physical body issues, mental blockage, energy blockages, emotional imbalances, trauma, spiritual blockages, challenges associated with relationships along with the negative emotions. All of these issues can be healed with Mantras. The ancients believed that chanting works through carrying one’s soul vibration and frequency with light, love, compassion and forgiveness. That is, mantras help to transform the vibration and frequency of your life to  higher vibes and more loving dimension. 

 

Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages with its unique power and beauty reflecting the great importance through its precise pronunciation. Being one of the oldest languages Sanskrit carries a sacred resonance with it.

The Sanskrit vehicles of chanting are the sacred prayers called mantra which were channeled by great yogi masters thousands of years ago. 

 

At our yoga studio, Bend it like Buddha we offer Sanskrit chanting that can help you experience a life-changing journey of wellness and health. Chanting has more benefits than you might expect. Several scientific studies have been conducted to observe the meditative effects on the body. The benefits of chanting have been observed in the form of improved pulmonary function, increased mental alertness, increased environmental awareness and potential relief from depression and stress (Ferreira-Vorkapic et al., 2015). Another study has postulated that chanting mantras can enlighten and purify the heart, mind, body and soul, make oneself and others happier and healthier, spreads compassion, love, forgiveness and most importantly uplift the spiritual standing (Lynch et al., 2018).

 

In other words, chanting mantras can heal emotional, mental, physical and spiritual bodies and in this way transforms all souls to divine mindfulness (Lolla, 2018). Furthermore, mantra is empowered by faith, concentration and intention and thus is considered as a beneficial meditative practice. There;s even more; doctors and nurses have also recommend mantra for medical treatment due to the outstanding research. Psychological benefits of mantra repetition include decreased heart rate, lowered level of tension as well as a decreased rate of blood pressure (Deodhar, 2015). 

 

Chanting vibrations with concentration enable to reduce the adrenaline level and cortisol and reducing the level of stress. Besides this, sound seed vibrations have a significant impact on improving the efficiency of the spinal cord. Meditation not only improves concentration but also strengthens the control on reacting to emotions, at the same time, helps withdetoxification. Chanting these sound seeds along with a constant deep breathing process improves blood circulation by providing more oxygen to the body thus restoring youthfulness both externally and internally. Moreover, the other health benefits include filtering out negativity, getting enough sleep and nurturing throat and thyroid glands (Lolla, 2018). Moreover, chanting mantras helps clear the throat chakra.

 

Farrah in Goa with Yoga Alliance 300 RYT certificate in Vinyasa flow

Kirtan is the repetition of mantras in a rhythmic manner seeking to bridge the spiritual world with the physical world. It is important to note that chanting is more powerful in a group of people like in Kirtan. Chanting unifies the entire group on a spiritual level and in this way, ties each and every person in the group all together to the divine, both as individuals and as a group. The benefits of mantra repetition are multiplied by the number of people practising chanting. Chanting out in the form of a group helps in the purification of the blocks much faster along with the further amplification of health benefits. In this way, the higher frequency vibrations work well in a group. 

At our yoga studio, our Sanskrit chanting along with sound journeys has deeply touched others and helped to restore and transform in surprising yet miraculous ways. So, what are you waiting for? You are warmly welcomed to participate inthe Bend it like Buddha Yoga Journey…

 

References

  • Deodhar, S., 2015. Make in India: Re-chanting the Mantra with a Difference.
  • Ferreira-Vorkapic, C., Feitoza, J.M., Marchioro, M., Simões, J., Kozasa, E. and Telles, S., 2015. Are there benefits from teaching yoga at schools? A systematic review of randomized control trials of yoga-based interventions. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015.
  • Lolla, A., 2018. Mantras Help the General Psychological Well-Being of College Students: A Pilot Study. Journal of religion and health, 57(1), pp.110-119.
  • Lynch, J., Prihodova, L., Dunne, P.J., McMahon, G., Carroll, A., Walsh, C. and White, B., 2018. Impact of mantra meditation on health and wellbeing: A systematic review protocol. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 18, pp.30-33.

 

 

How does Yin benefit our Yoga practice?

Yin is a style of yoga that we absolutely love at Bend it like Buddha school to help balance out an active Ashtanga or Vinyasa practice. To some of the more active and dynamic yoga styles today, Yin Yoga can be considered as a complementary yoga practice. Yin Yoga is an art more than an exact science which was introduced by Master Paulie Zink who is the sole protégé of Chinese martial arts. Paulie, himself, was taught Taoist arts comprising of flexible training, physical conditioning and energy cultivation along with some of the distinct Kung-fu styles by his master Cho Chat Ling (Yin Yoga – Founder Paulie Zink, 2019). Yin Yoga, in other words, is a unique style of Taoist yoga introduced by Master Zink that has originated from the philosophy, spiritual traditions and ancient Taoist health practices in China. The art of Yin Yoga has been drawn upon the Chinese doctrine of elements- water, wood, fire, metal and earth. Yin and Yang used as Chinese principles harmonised with the rhythm and the flow of nature (Eliot, 2018). 

 

The martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink started teaching Yin Yoga to the western world in the late 1970s. This unique form of Yoga was taught in Europe and across North America. Now our very own yoga studio Bend it like Buddha in Praia da Rocha beach, Portimao-Portugal offers Yin class styles. As well as the other training courses such as 200-hour teacher training along with the other such yoga instructor programs and teacher certifications.

Yin Yoga is a meditative approach having more passive posture mainly on the floor. The majority of these postures are held between 3-5 minutes on each side. In one class perhaps only 7-10 poses will be practiced. Several advantages have been observed associated with Yin Yoga such as energy regulation in the body and lowering the level of stress. Besides this, Yin Yoga will give students a calming and balancing sense in the body and mind, increase mobility, help with migraines and stress, better lubrication and protection of joints together with offering more flexibility in the joints as well as connective tissues (Chang, Liao and Wang, 2013). 

 

Another highly discussed benefit of Yin Yoga is the release of fascia throughout the body. During Farrah Furtado’s Breath to Breath sessions space is held to release the fascia through movement, sound and breath work. Several types of research have been conducted determining the benefits of fascia release. The fascia network is more like a network that scaffolds throughout the entire body (Eliot, 2018). The network of the connective tissues weaves through our entire body encasing the muscles, joints, vessels and bones. It has been said that all of our past memory and history is locked as a memory in fascia and thus, many times our past anger, confusions, sadness, anxiety lie here. Yoga and stretching is considered as an effective way of releasing stress, anxiety and other such negative things affecting the body. The emotions want to be liberated from the body otherwise being stuck there may create body pain. Yin Yoga is an effective way of releasing fascia and relaxing the body and mind (Ajimsha et al., 2015).

 

The idea of fascia holding past memories is a controversial topic in clinical exploration and western medicine. Tozzi (2014) has postulated this release of memory as accompanied by some sort of sensory experience. Another research conducted by Cubick et al. (2011), has highlighted that a manual therapeutic technique called Myofascial  release fiscal restrictions (MFR)  showing improvement in fatigue, pain, cervical and thus the entire quality of life. In another studyconducted by Ajimsha et al. (2015), it has been stated that release ( such as in breath work or yoga stretching) is the best way to work with fascia and is beneficial for both our mind, health and well-being. 

 

Practicing myofascial release means working with fascia to rehydrate the connective tissues, the muscles and ligaments. Moreover, Yin Yoga postures is an effective manner of releasing blockages and difficult memories. A kind of obstruction is created when the fascia is damaged. In our Yin Yoga classes, intensive breath work and stretching fascia with binaural healing music and sacred sounds such as the Tibetan bowls we will share some light on a new way on how to target the fascia, release blocks and emotions. During Yin in our sacred space at Bend it like Buddha studio, Praia da Rocha, Portimao Algarve our instructors will share these myofascia release techniques to help you feel better, heal yourself through your own miraculous body and start your healing process to renewed health. 

 

References

 

  • Ajimsha, M.S., Al-Mudahka, N.R. and Al-Madzhar, J.A., 2015. Effectiveness of myofascial release: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 19(1), pp.102-112.
  • Chang, J.H., Liao, Y.S. and Wang, T.Y., 2013. A Progressive Staged Digital Yoga Game to Stimulate the Interest of Elders. International Journal of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and e-Learning, 3(3), p.209.
  • Cubick, E.E., Quezada, V.Y., Schumer, A.D. and Davis, C.M., 2011. Sustained release myofascial release as treatment for a patient with complications of rheumatoid arthritis and collagenous colitis: a case report. International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork, 4(3), p.1.
  • Eliot, T., 2018. A Journey Into Yin Yoga. Human Kinetics.
  • Tozzi, P., 2014. Does fascia hold memories?.
  • Yin Yoga – Founder Paulie Zink. (2019). Biography – Yin Yoga – Founder Paulie Zink. [online] Available at: http://www.pauliezink.com/biography/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2019].

Kundalini Yoga Nidra

Have you ever seen the world with an expansive vision? The enlightenment of understanding can come from feeling whole and complete and at the same time sensing how others are interpreting the world around them. This expansive vision can come through from a Kundalini awakening.

Kundalini awakening is a process of experiencing specific energy that is associated with the resolution of all of the issues, conditioning patterns, emotional trauma, pain ect… Over the last few years, there are more transcendental experiences which yoga students have been experiencing.

Here is a Yoga Nidra meditation I recorded which you can practice at night before you fall asleep or during the day to help you feel energized. It is up to you and your intention of what you would like to receive from this meditative practice.

Kundalini Yoga Nidra

Most important be totally aware in the present moment, let go and follow the guided instructions. Enjoy!

Thank you to my brother Loose Lion ( Aka Jerome Truman) for the awesome binaural beats and sound medicine 🙂 xx

Meditation recorded by ~
L. Farrah Furtado