Breathwork or Pranayama has been practised in India for centuries. Breathwork refers to a variety of breathing techniques and exercises that can be used to improve one’s physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. For this reason, we checked in with some of India’s leading health and wellness experts to learn about the benefits of incorporating a breathwork practice into our daily routine. Here’s what they had to say.
“In the breathwork practice, breathing is consciously controlled in certain patterns which are closely similar to our own. Pranayama has scientifically revealed advantages like stress reduction, improved quality of sleep, lowered blood pressure, improved cognitive function, and better control of diseases like asthma and fewer cravings while quitting substances like nicotine. Incorporating this method into your routine can improve one’s life mentally and physically,” mentions Dr Vivek Anand Padegal, senior consultant-pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.
6 health benefits of incorporating breathwork in your daily routine
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
The practice of breathwork positively impacts people’s overall health. “Breathwork has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure. Additionally, it can treat hypertension and enhance blood flow throughout the body. Deep breathing helps to enhance the delivery of oxygen to your cells. This can make you feel more awake and energised,” says Dr Rohini Patil, nutritionist, and CEO of Nutracy Lifestyle.
2. Reduces Stress
One of the primary benefits of breathwork is managing stress better. Moreover, studies suggest that breathwork can improve stress-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. “Including breathwork in your daily routine helps regulate the autonomic nervous system. This can lower heart rate, regulate blood pressure and lower the release of the stress hormone cortisol,” remarks nutritionist Lovneet Bhullar Batra.
“Breathwork or any form of mindfulness meditation protects the immune system by lowering cortisol levels in a natural way. It aids stress management, can help build strength, revitalise energy, and reduces the effects of depression or other mental illnesses,” states Vidhi Chawla, dietician, and founder of Fisico Diet Clinic.
3. Improves Overall Health
Breathwork is a popular choice among athletes since it can improve overall health. “To improve your breathing, it's also a terrific strategy to concentrate on diaphragm strengthening. Regular breathing exercises can help you gain overall strength, which will make breathing during physical activity easier,” adds Dr Rohini Patil.
“The connection I like to show with breathwork and health is improving cardiovascular endurance, and in turn, fat loss. Learning to breathe correctly while doing long cyclical forms of cardio enables us to perform for longer periods in our workouts with a higher quality output of movements. You learn to not let your lungs get fatigued too easily, and to keep a steady pace in your workouts (this works for running, rowing, biking, or even bodyweight cardio). You end up moving more and burning more,” states fitness coach Sanika Vaid.
4. Helps Overcome Depression
Abdominal breathwork helps overcome depression. “When thoracic breathwork is combined with deep inhales and exhales in equal breath, one can overcome depression, panic attacks, and sleep disorders. Problems and pressures of daily life make breath shallow and limited. With guided breathwork, one can get in a very comfortable space emotionally and can overcome several health concerns,” mentions Bijal Doshi, yoga instructor at YogDivine.