By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
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). In Chinese internal martial arts, chi cultivation (pranayama) is practiced for internal healing. Advanced martial arts students go deep in their pursuit of knowledge related to taking external energy in for the purpose of cultivation. Back to Yoga, when one practices pranayama, the ratio of breath is important for controlling the amount of energy one draws in. In fact, pranayama is a stand alone science of improving the quality of one’s lifestyle. Yet, it is taken for granted, but the difference between breathing and pranayama is ratio and a science going back in time for thousands of years.
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, unless it is forced and abused.
Pranayama for Heart Health
Among the many benefits of pranayama is that the practice promotes better blood circulation. As you take in deep, controlled breaths, 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
Another of the benefits of pranayama is that regular practice improves mental health. The breathing techniques require that you free your mind of negative thoughts. As you focus on practicing pranayama, you free your mind through breathing, and 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.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Do you want to become a mindfulness meditation teacher?
To see our selection of Yoga instructor courses and continuing education courses, please visit the following link.
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011;4:49–54.
Yang K. A review of yoga programs for four leading risk factors of chronic diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007;4:487–91.
Nivethitha L, Mooventhan A, Manjunath NK. Effects of various Prāṇāyāma on cardiovascular and autonomic variables. Anc Sci Life. 2016;36:72–7.
Joshi KS. Yogic Pranayama: Breathing for Long Life and Good Health. India: Orient Paperbacks; 2006.
Hartranft C. The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation With Commentary. India: Shambhala Classics; 2003.
Khalsa SB. Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: A bibliometric analysis of published research studies. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2004;48:269–85.
Jeter PE, Slutsky J, Singh N, Khalsa SB. Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: A bibliometric analysis of published research studies from 1967 to 2013. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21:586–92.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Dobos G. Characteristics of randomized controlled trials of yoga: A bibliometric analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:328.
Sharma VK, Trakroo M, Subramaniam V, Rajajeyakumar M, Bhavanani AB, Sahai A. Effect of fast and slow pranayama on perceived stress and cardiovascular parameters in young health-care students. Int J Yoga. 2013;6:104–10.
Saxena T, Saxena M. The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity. Int J Yoga. 2009;2:22–5.
Sharma VK, Rajajeyakumar M, Velkumary S, Subramanian SK, Bhavanani AB, Madanmohan, et al. Effect of fast and slow pranayama practice on cognitive functions in healthy volunteers. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8:10–3.
de Morton NA. The PEDro scale is a valid measure of the methodological quality of clinical trials: A demographic study. Aust J Physiother. 2009;55:129–33.
Anitha A. Effectiveness and benefits of pranayama on level of anxiety among clients with myocardial infarction. Res J Pharm Biol Chem Sci. 2016;7:2857–9.
Bhatt A, Rampallivar S. Effect of pranayam on ventilatory functions in patients of bronchial asthma. J Evol Med Dent Sci. 2016;5:1453–55.
Mobini Bidgoli M, Taghadosi M, Gilasi H, Farokhian A. The effect of sukha pranayama on anxiety in patients undergoing coronary angiography: A single -blind randomized controlled trial. J Cardiovasc Thorac Res. 2016;8:170–5.
Chakrabarty J, Vidyasagar M, Fernandes D, Joisa G, Varghese P, Mayya S. Effectiveness of pranayama on cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: A randomized controlled trial. Int J Yoga. 2015;8:47–53.
Chakrabarty J, Vidyasagar MS, Fernandes D, Bhat V, Nagalakshmi, Joisa G, et al. Effectiveness of pranayama on the levels of serum protein thiols and glutathione in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: A randomized controlled trial. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013;57:225–32.
Chakrabarty J, Vidyasagar MS, Fernandes D, Mayya S. Emotional aspects and benefits of pranayama in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: A randomized controlled trial. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs. 2016;3:199–204.
Dhruva A, Miaskowski C, Abrams D, Acree M, Cooper B, Goodman S, et al. Yoga breathing for cancer chemotherapy-associated symptoms and quality of life: Results of a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2012;18:473–9.
Franzblau SH, Echevarria S, Smith M, Van Cantfort TE. A preliminary investigation of the effects of giving testimony and learning yogic breathing techniques on battered women’s feelings of depression. J Interpers Violence. 2008;23:1800–8.
Goyal R, Lata H, Walia L, Narula MK. Effect of pranayama on rate pressure product in mild hypertensives. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2014;4:67–71.
Katiyar S, Bihari S. Role of pranayama in rehabilitation of COPD patients – A randomized controlled study. Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;20:98–104.
Kochupillai V, Kumar P, Singh D, Aggarwal D, Bhardwaj N, Bhutani M, et al. Effect of rhythmic breathing (Sudarshan Kriya and pranayam) on immune functions and tobacco addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005;1056:242–52.
Mourya M, Mahajan AS, Singh NP, Jain AK. Effect of slow- and fast-breathing exercises on autonomic functions in patients with essential hypertension. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15:711–7.
Prem V, Sahoo RC, Adhikari P. Comparison of the effects of Buteyko and benefits of pranayama breathing techniques on quality of life in patients with asthma – A randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2013;27:133–41.
Singh V, Wisniewski A, Britton J, Tattersfield A. Effect of yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) on airway reactivity in subjects with asthma. Lancet. 1990;335:1381–3.
Sodhi C, Singh S, Bery A. Assessment of the quality of life in patients with bronchial asthma, before and after yoga: A randomised trial. Iran J Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014;13:55–60.
Sodhi C, Singh S, Dandona PK. A study of the effect of yoga training on pulmonary functions in patients with bronchial asthma. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009;53:169–74.
Jain N, Srivastava RD, Singhal A. The effects of right and left nostril breathing on cardiorespiratory and autonomic parameters. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005;49:469–74.
Madanmohan, Thombre DP, Balakumar B, Nambinarayanan TK, Thakur S, Krishnamurthy N, et al. Effect of yoga training on reaction time, respiratory endurance and muscle strength. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992;36:229–33.
Subbalakshmi NK, Saxena SK, Urmimala JA. Immediate effect of nadi-shodhana pranayama on some selected parameters of cardiovascular, pulmonary and higher functions of brain. Thai J Physiol Sci. 2005;18:10–6.
Karthik PS, Chandrasekhar M, Ambareesha K, Nikhil C. Effect and benefits of pranayama and suryanamaskar on pulmonary functions in medical students. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8:BC04–6.
Singh S, Malhotra V, Singh KP, Madhu SV, Tandon OP. Role of yoga in modifying certain cardiovascular functions in type 2 diabetic patients. J Assoc Physicians India. 2004;52:203–6.
Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.
See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of online yoga teacher training intensive courses.