Breathing is essential to life as it supplies oxygen to your lungs and eliminates carbon dioxide from your body. But consider it more than a life process because a daily practice of deep breathing can set you up for good health, mental peace, and longevity.
Not surprisingly, pranayama, the ancient art of breath regulation, has emerged as a widely-accepted holistic healing therapy. Essentially, pranayama is a core element of yoga and involves breathing exercises and patterns. It entails consciously inhaling, exhaling, and holding your breath in a specific sequence.
The practice is more complicated than it sounds, as you control the timing, frequency, and duration of every breath instead of inhaling and exhaling subconsciously. The goal of the practice is to connect your body and mind to create a therapeutic experience. Since the activity covers physical, mental, and emotional aspects, it works on a broader level. Let us explain the research-backed holistic benefits of pranayama.
Boosts lung function
Pranayama is slow and forceful breathing, which makes your lungs work harder and strengthens them with regular practice. Studies show that performing it every day can enhance lung function and improve pulmonary parameters over time. People struggling with conditions like asthma and allergic bronchitis can rely on the breathwork practice as an alternative to medicines. Research also establishes its efficacy in treating chronic lung conditions like pneumonia and tuberculosis. The best part is that the therapy boosts the strength of the lungs by exercising them instead of treating them with medication.
Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure can be a stealthy killer as it elevates the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. The worst part is that you may not even know the symptoms, let alone look for a solution. Pranayama lowers blood pressure by promoting relaxation. In fact, you can alleviate the condition without medicines by practicing breathwork regularly. Concentrating on your breathing helps calm your nervous system, which lowers blood pressure naturally.
Holistic therapy addresses mental health issues besides the physical woes, and pranayama covers both fronts. Controlled breathing lets you pause and assess stressful situations for a better response. The body’s fight-or-flight response gets into action when you encounter stressful thoughts. It causes breathing to become shallow and rapid. Your body also produces a surge of hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Deep breathing reverses these symptoms instantly and sends your body and mind into a neutral state. Moreover, the increased oxygen uptake during pranayama provides energy to your vital organs.
Since breathing is automatic, you hardly pay attention to inhalation and exhalation. But pranayama breathing creates awareness of these actions and increases mindfulness. Being mindful lets you focus on the present moment rather than think about the past or future. You cannot overlook the immense benefits of mindfulness as it enables you to live in the present, become a more emotionally balanced person, and have better focus and concentration. It also improves your performance and productivity at work, taking you a step closer to academic and professional success. Likewise, you get better with relationships by focusing on things that matter.
Enhances cognitive performance
Another holistic benefit of pranayama is that it enhances cognitive performance, with improved cognitive flexibility, reasoning skills, and working memory. Studies indicate its efficacy in improving the perceived level of stress and reaction time. Further, it boosts sensory-motor performance and auditory memory. The reason is the increase in oxygen availability to brain cells. They get an extra dose of energy and perform better due to regular breathing exercises. Cognitive performance delivers extensive benefits to young students, professionals, and aging adults alike.
Promotes sleep quality
Sleep deprivation is a common health issue in men and women of all ages. The worst part is that prolonged dependence on sleep medications can have grave side effects. You may even become habitual and develop a high tolerance to sleeping pills. It is better to look for holistic remedies, and pranayama shows promising benefits in this context. Slow breathing lowers stress levels and heart rate. Both factors set you up for quality sleep without medication. It can also help people struggling with insomnia due to obstructive sleep apnea because it decreases snoring and daytime sleepiness. You tend to get quality sleep as you are more comfortable with breathing.
Helps with cigarette de-addiction
Everyone knows the downsides of cigarette smoking but quitting it is a daunting challenge. Even the best measures fail to work when it comes to ditching the habit for good. You may find yourself struggling to beat the temptation. Fortunately, pranayama offers a holistic solution by lowering your cravings and promoting mindfulness. As you control your breathing patterns, you also tend to give up the temptation of smoking again. Most importantly, mindfulness-based yoga breathing enables you to handle the negative effects of smoking withdrawal.
Rejuvenates your body
A pranayama session rejuvenates your body by building physical, mental, and emotional resilience. Consider it a form of self-care and self-love that works for the whole body. You feel fit and healthy as your lungs deliver optimal performance. Lower stress makes life better in more than one way. Your digestion works better, and sleep falls in place too. You perform better at work and bond well in relationships with more control over your emotions. There couldn’t be a more effective way to boost the quality of life as you feel like a happier, healthier, and balanced person.
Pranayama sets you up for a better quality of life at all levels. You feel more energetic, calm, and controlled. The best thing about this holistic therapy is that you can master it over time and get better benefits by practicing it regularly. You only need to get the right start by learning the basics of the breathing technique, and practice does the rest. Moreover, pranayama is a versatile therapy with different forms of breathing to address diverse requirements and challenges. You can learn the ropes and find a perfect combination of techniques that works for you.