benefits of pranayamaBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How important are the benefits of pranayama? Within Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, we learn the fourth limb of Raja Yoga is pranayama. This places a high value on what some people refer to as “breathing.” Yet, pranayama is actually the systematic cultivation of prana (energy). When one practices pranayama, the ratio of breath is important for controlling the amount of energy one draws in.

The specific pranayama technique that is practiced can bring about a variety of different benefits, which improve the quality of life. The many different benefits of pranayama, which is the energy control (Yogic breathing) practiced in all forms of Yoga, could consume a small book. Those, who practice Yoga regularly, are able to appreciate these benefits to the fullest. Pranayama benefits the mind and physical body in many ways.

Pranayama and Lowered Breath Rate for Longevity

Since breathing is very controlled, in all styles of Yoga, a student learns to control his or her breath rate, which slows from an average of 15 breaths per minute to about 5 breaths per minute, or less. This reduces one’s overall breathing rate by about one third.  Within some circles of Yogic philosophy, it is believed that your life expectancy depends on the amount of breaths you take in the course of life. Therefore, the slower you breathe, the longer you will live.

Pranayama for Emotional Health

This decreased breath rate leads to a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, healthier internal organs, a relaxed body, and states of euphoria. What a trade off – and breathing is free. In fact, pranayama for drug rehabilitation is well worth a deeper study and research. Even if it does not always work, pranayama is much less expensive than standard drug rehabilitation methods; and when practiced correctly, it has no bad side effects.

Pranayama for Heart Health

Pranayama practice promotes better blood circulation. As you take in deep, controlled breaths, more oxygen enters your lungs and is transported through the blood stream to every cell in your body. Through better blood circulation, your heart health will also improve.  The heart is the hardest working of our vital organs. By some estimates, the heart beats approximately 100,000 times per day. The amount of oxygen reaching your heart is crucial in prolonging life and maintaining a healthy heart.

Pranayama improves the functions of body organs. The digestive system improves and the chances of a digestive system-related disease decreases through the practice of pranayama. The fact is: We need a certain amount of air within the digestive system to maintain a steady flow.  Pranayama decreases fatigue which will improve your mood, make you feel more energized, and your immune system is also strengthened. Due to the fact pranayama requires deep controlled breaths where you are taking in large amounts of oxygen, your internal organs are getting the appropriate amount of oxygen to function properly. This much needed oxygen helps to remove toxins from the body, which aids in the prevention of diseases.

Pranayama for Mental Health

Pranayama improves mental health. The breathing techniques require that you free your mind of negative thoughts. As you free your mind through breathing, you will alleviate stress. Pranayama prepares your mind for meditation. It will help you gain control over your mind. You will experience a feeling of inner peace and more restful sleep.

Pranayama for Holistic Health

Pranayama improves your memory and concentration levels. As we grow older, lung capacity naturally decreases. Pranayama can improve lung function as we age. It can decrease, and even reverse, some of the effects of old age – such as loss of vitality, joint pain, stiffening muscles, less flexible joints, rheumatism, headaches, backaches, sluggish diaphragm, and hardening of the arteries, which leads to poor circulation. The benefits of pranayama are too important to avoid.

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