⁩Pranayama, a profound breathing yoga exercise, revolves around the gentle inhalation of air through one's nostrils, followed by a brief retention and a slow, deliberate exhalation. This rhythmic breathing pattern deeply impacts the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, utilizing a diaphragmatic or vertical approach that engages all respiratory muscles, unlike our typical breathing. 


This practice comprises three crucial phases: inhalation, exhalation, and breath retention, all performed in specific asanas. Proper alignment is key, with a straight upper body, relaxed shoulder and abdominal muscles, closed eyes, and stillness.


During inhalation, the lungs expand to their maximum, optimizing gas exchange and oxygen utilization, while intrapulmonary pressure rises. The retention phase strengthens facial, neck, and chest muscles, exerting pressure on jugular and carotid vessels for blood pressure control.

Role Of Pranayama In Yoga:

Talking about the role of pranayama in yoga, Gayatri Chona, who is a Nutritionist, wellness coach and co founder of phab said, "In yoga, pranayama is a conscious and deliberate breath (prana) control (ayama). While different types of pranayama practices give you different benefits, the most common ones include reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep quality, higher levels of mindfulness and emotional regulation, minimised risk of hypertension, and enhanced brain function."

Benefits Of Pranayama:

Talking about that benefits of pranayama in yoga, Dr Sucharita, who is a Medical Officer at CHC Healthwatch laid down the following points:

  • Pranayama yields extensive benefits for both physical and mental well-being.
  • It enhances the exchange of gases between alveoli and capillaries, augments lung vital capacity, lowers blood pressure, and eventually brings serenity to mind and body.
  • Its therapeutic prowess extends to cardio-pulmonary conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), blood pressure regulation, and even post-COVID-19 recovery, as well as addressing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

In addition to these, Gayatri Chona said, "Though the benefits of controlled breathing have been part of the yogic discourse for years, scientists too have concluded how low, deep breathing (or 'cardiac coherence exercise' as it’s coined by the western medical community) increases the activity of the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, calmness pervades the body — the heart rate slows and becomes regular, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax."

How Pranayama Benefits Body And Mind:

In this regard, Prakriti Poddar who is the Global Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at RoundGlass Living said, "Today, there’s a large body of scientific research that supports the traditional knowledge and wisdom of pranayama." She then went on to list down how this breathwork practice benefits the body and the mind: 

  • Relaxation and anxiety management: When we are stressed, we end up taking short, rapid breaths. However, longer, and deeper breaths help in dissolving stress and anxiety and inducing a state of calm. Pranayama, especially the slower ones, help transport more oxygen to the brain, which calms the nerves, removes toxins, and improves focus. For example, Nadishodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) is highly effective in relieving anxiety and stress and removing energy blockages in the body. Similarly, Bhramari pranayama (bee humming breath) can instantaneously help rid the mind of anger, frustration, and anxiety.  
  • Lowers heart rate and blood pressure: Ujjayi pranayama, in which you inhale and exhale through the nose while keeping your lips sealed, has been shown to lower the heart rate in times of stress. In a 2009 study, slow Bhastrika pranayama (bellow breathing, respiratory rate 6/min) for 5 minutes was found to significantly lower both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in addition to a slight fall in heart rate. 
  • Improves lung capacity: Both slow and rapid breathing exercises help in increasing lung capacity and improving pulmonary function. Pranayama practice leads to improvement in the expiratory power of the lungs and decreases the resistance to the airflow in them. 
  • Improves sleep: Because pranayama helps relax and calm the mind, it naturally aids good sleep. For a deep and nourishing slumber, practise Bhramari before going to bed.  
  • Sharper focus and attention: Learning and practising yogic breathing requires focus and self-awareness. Studies show that all pranayama led to better cognitive function, however fast pranayama such as Bhramari, Bhastrika and Ujjayi have additional benefits for certain executive functions and sensory-motor performance. 

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