Pranayama is the ancient Indian practice of regulating breath. It is given supreme importance in the Hindu scriptures. It’s a Sanskrit compound word in which, “prana” means life and “ayama” means control. It’s a powerful practice that can transform one’s life. There are various types of Pranayama, and their long-term benefits are immense!
The benefits of pranayama have been extensively researched. The following are some of the scientifically accepted benefits.
It reduces stress
Studies have found that pranayama reduces perceived stress levels in people. This effect is linked to the increased oxygen uptake during the practice of pranayama. People who practice pranayama are also found to experience less anxiety. It also helps overcome negative feelings.
It enhances the quality of sleep
A study showed Bhramari pranayama slows down breathing and heart rate. This helps calm one’s body for sleep. Pranayama is also found to improve sleep quality in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
It improves mindfulness
Practisng pranayama makes one observe and be conscious of one’s breath. A study found that students who practised pranayama displayed higher levels of mindfulness and better levels of emotional regulation than those who didn’t.
It reduces high blood pressure
Pranayama is found to have a greater effect than antihypertensive drugs on people with mild hypertension. Pranayama helps calm the nervous system and promotes relaxation.
It improves lung function
It helps strengthen the lungs. It’s a very useful tool for people suffering from asthma, allergic bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
It enhances brain function
A found that pranayama improves working memory, concentration, cognitive flexibility, and reasoning skills. Some studies have also shown that fast pranayama helps improve auditory and sensory-motor skills.
Relief from psychosomatic conditions
Pranayama is also said to grant relief from certain psychosomatic disorders like migraine headaches, ulcers, and psoriasis.
According to Ayurveda, praṇayama purifies the principal channels of energy called nadis and nourishes the whole body. It induces tranquility, quietens the mind and helps to improve concentration. The various types of pranayama have more specific benefits.
Here’s a short video by The Yoga Institute, teaching you this wonderful exercise.