Pranayama is the discipline of controlling one’s breath. It’s a key component of yoga, a kind of exercise that promotes both physical and emotional well-being. “Prana” signifies life energy in Sanskrit, while “Yama” implies control.
It is the practice of breathing exercises and patterns. You deliberately inhale, expel, and hold your breath in a particular order.
It is utilised in yoga with other techniques such as physical postures (asanas) and meditation (dhyana). These practises, when combined, are responsible for many of yoga’s benefits.
However, this exercise offers its own set of advantages. These benefits stem from the therapeutic effects of breathing exercises and mindfulness.
What Is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the ancient technique of breathing regulation. You have complete control over the timing, length, and frequency of each breath and hold.
The purpose of this type of yoga is to bring your body and mind together. It also provides oxygen to your body while clearing pollutants. This is intended to give physiological healing advantages.
It includes a variety of breathing practises. Here are several examples:
- Nadishodhana: Alternate nostril breathing
- Ujjayi: Victorious breath
- Bhramari: Female honey bee humming breath
- Bastrika: Bellows breath
These breathing exercises can be done in a variety of ways. You may practice these while doing yoga positions, for example. They may also be done while meditating or on their own.
Benefits Of Pranayama According To Science And Research
The advantages of this form of Yoga have been thoroughly investigated.
According to scientific research, pranayama can enhance your health in a variety of ways. Let’s take a closer look at seven of these advantages.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Pranayama was found to lower perceived stress levels in healthy young people in a 2013 research. According to the experts, it soothes the neurological system, which enhances your stress response.
A comparable advantage was shown in a 2013 trial. People who practised pranayama were less anxious before taking a test.
The study’s authors attributed this impact to enhanced oxygen intake during pranayama. Oxygen provides energy to your important organs, such as your brain and nerves.
2. Provides Better Sleep Quality
Pranayama’s stress-relieving benefits may also aid with sleep.
When done for 5 minutes, a method known as Bhramari pranayama was demonstrated in clinical investigations to calm down breathing and heart rate. This may aid in the relaxation of your body in preparation for sleep.
A 2019 research found that this form of yoga improves sleep quality in adults with obstructive sleep apnea. Furthermore, the study discovered that pranayama practice reduced snoring and daytime tiredness, implying advantages for better quality sleeps.
3. Improves Mindfulness
Breathing comes naturally to many of us. We do it without even thinking about it.
However, during pranayama, you must be mindful of your breathing and how it feels. You can practice concentrating on the current moment rather than the past or future. This is referred to as mindfulness.
A 2017 study found that students who practised this exercise had better levels of awareness than those who did not. The same pupils also demonstrated improved emotional management. This was linked to the soothing impact of pranayama, which helps you to be more conscious.
The researchers also stated that it aids in the removal of carbon dioxide and increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood, which feeds brain cells. This may help with mindfulness by increasing attention and concentration.
4. Eliminates High Blood Pressure
When your blood pressure reaches an unsafe level, you have high blood pressure, often known as hypertension. It raises the chance of several potentially fatal health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.
Stress is a key risk factor for hypertension. Pranayama, which promotes relaxation, can assist in reducing this risk.
Participants in a 2014 research with moderate hypertension were given antihypertensive medications for six weeks. Half of the participants also got six weeks of this training. The latter group had a higher drop in blood pressure towards the conclusion of the research.
According to the study’s authors, this impact is most likely due to pranayama’s attentive breathing.
Concentrating on your breathing might assist in relaxing your anxious system. As a result, your stress response and risk of hypertension may be reduced.
5. Enhances Lung Functioning
The slow, vigorous breathing of pranayama, as a sort of breathing exercise, may strengthen your lungs.
According to one 2019 study, 6 weeks of practising pranayama for 1 hour each day might have a substantial influence on lung function. According to pulmonary test findings, the practice improved many indicators of lung function.
According to the study’s authors, this type of yoga can be an effective lung-strengthening technique for a variety of lung diseases, including:
- Allergic bronchitis
- For recovery from pneumonia and tuberculosis
6. Boosts Cognitive Performance
Pranayama, in addition to aiding your lungs, may also improve your cognitive performance.
According to a 2013 study, 12 weeks of slow or fast pranayama increased executive function, which includes working memory, cognitive flexibility, and thinking abilities.
The study also discovered that it could enhance your perceived level of stress and reaction time.
Furthermore, the study discovered that quick pranayama was connected with improved auditory memory and sensory-motor function.
These advantages, according to the researchers, are related to the stress-relieving effects of pranayama. Increased oxygen intake, which energises brain cells, is also likely to play a role.
7. Decreases Cigarette Cravings
There is evidence that yogic breathing, or pranayama, may reduce cravings in smokers attempting to stop.
A 2012 study found that just 10 minutes of yogic breathing reduced cigarette cravings in the short term.
A recent study discovered that mindfulness-based yoga breathing reduced the harmful effects of smoking cessation.
The Bottom Line
Pranayama, or breath regulation, is an important aspect of yoga. It is widely used in conjunction with yoga postures and meditation.
Pranayama’s purpose is to enhance the connection between your body and mind.
According to studies, it might help people relax and be more focused. It has also been shown to help with a variety of physical health issues, including lung function, blood pressure, and brain function.
If you’ve never done pranayama before, you should consider joining a yoga class or finding a teacher who can teach you the right technique for these breathing exercises.