Breathing is a fundamental part of our existence, but the way we breathe can have a significant impact on our physical and mental well-being. Pranayama, a breathing yoga exercise, takes this concept to a whole new level. It involves a rhythmic pattern of inhalation, exhalation, and breath retention, performed in specific asanas. Unlike our typical breathing, Pranayama engages all respiratory muscles and deeply affects the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
During the practice of Pranayama, proper alignment is crucial. The upper body should be straight, shoulder and abdominal muscles relaxed, eyes closed, and stillness maintained. This mindful approach allows for maximum benefits.
The role of Pranayama in yoga is twofold. Firstly, it is a conscious and deliberate control of breath (prana). Secondly, it offers a range of benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep quality, heightened mindfulness and emotional regulation, minimized risk of hypertension, and enhanced brain function.
The benefits of Pranayama extend beyond the realm of yoga. It yields extensive physical and mental benefits. It optimizes gas exchange and oxygen utilization, increases lung vital capacity, lowers blood pressure, and brings serenity to mind and body. Moreover, Pranayama shows therapeutic potential in addressing cardio-pulmonary conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can also aid in post-COVID-19 recovery and has positive effects on mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Scientists have also recognized the benefits of controlled breathing. Low, deep breathing, also known as cardiac coherence exercise, stimulates the vagus nerve, resulting in a state of calmness in the body. This leads to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
Pranayama offers multiple benefits to the body and mind. It promotes relaxation and anxiety management by allowing longer, deeper breaths and transporting more oxygen to the brain. It lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health. Additionally, it increases lung capacity and improves pulmonary function. Pranayama can aid in achieving a restful sleep state and sharpen focus and attention.
In conclusion, Pranayama is a powerful tool for enhancing physical and mental well-being. Its practice can bring about profound positive changes in our lives. Whether you are a yoga enthusiast or looking for techniques to manage stress and improve overall health, incorporating Pranayama into your routine can be highly beneficial.
– Gayatri Chona, Nutritionist and co-founder of phab
– Dr. Sucharita, Medical Officer at CHC Healthwatch
– Prakriti Poddar, Global Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at RoundGlass Living