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.