Pranayama Breathing Benefits & Physiology
How This Helps
Pranayama Breathing Benefits
Centuries ago yoga originated in India, and in present day and age, an increased awareness has been observed in natural and health remedies. Individuals practicing yoga and pranayama have proven this to be an effective way of improving health as well as prevention and management of diseases. With increasing scientific study in yoga, its curative aspects are also being researched. Yoga is reported to decrease tension and anxiety, improves cognitive capabilities by triggering neurohormonal mechanisms from the reduction of sympathetic activity, and even, now-a-days, many reports indicated yoga can be beneficial for physical health of cancer patients.
Pranayama (prana = energy + yama = control) is a type of meditation technique which involves various methods of controlling the breathing, with the aim being to draw ones senses from the external world. This helps you to increase one's prana (or Kundalini energy in this case) up the heavy backbone into the eye or sixth chakra, which brings you to enlightenment. Kriya Yoga is one such technique, made well known by Paramhamsa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi.
Breath is the source of life, changing with stress levels. When confronted with danger, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow to increase oxygen content. In normal circumstances, blood supply balances around the body, supplying oxygen rich blood to all organs rejuvenating tissues and supporting oxidation process within the body.
Pranayama Meditation Steps
Retention of the breath (Kumbhak)
Pranayama Breathing Physiology
Science and Research
Breath focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have many known cognitive advantages, such as increased ability to concentrate, diminished brain wandering, improved stimulation levels, more positive emotions, diminished emotional reactivity, together with many others.
The study shows for the first time that breathing - a crucial element of mindfulness and meditation practices - right affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we're challenged, inquisitive, exercised, concentrated or emotionally stimulated, and, if generated at the perfect levels, enables the brain develop new connections, like a mind fertiliser. How we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that could enhance our attention and boost our brain health.
The analysis, carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the International Brain Health Institute in Trinity, found that participants who concentrated well while undertaking a job that demanded a great deal of attention had higher synchronisation between their breathing patterns and their focus, than those who had lousy attention. The authors consider that it may be possible to utilize breath-control practices to stabilise focus and enhance brain health.
1.Sengupta P. Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(7):444–458.
2. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda. Step Thirteen, “The Anatomy of Yoga.”
How long should one do Pranayama?
See what another Yoga expert shared on a recent webinar.