Top Pranayama Benefits for Mind & body as Proven by Science

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“Vayu” or “Air” is one of the most crucial elements among the five of the human body. It is the fastest moving component and is hard to control without practice. But, as the majority of health problems are connected to this element, the science of ‘pranayama” was formulated in ancient India that focuses on the art of controlled breathing for the betterment of human life. The Sanskrit word “pranayama” literally translates to The expansion of the “Pran-Vayu” or the Life-Force to new dimensions. Much research has been done on this topic & many more extensive ones are underway to determine the Pranayama benefits on the human body & life. Nowadays, modern medical science advocates various therapeutic breathing methods like Buteyko breathing technique (BBT), box breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, Papworth method, resonant breathing etc., which are nothing more than some fancy names to age-old science of Pranayama. Thus, understanding the science of Pranayama & using it the right way is destined to elevate physical & mental health & drive away any bodily ailment.

The Yogic exercise of Pranayama is a controlled breathing technique that improves Lung heath, decrease nicotine addiction, reduces stress, regulates blood pressure, removes toxins from the body & is a great tool for living a long flourishing life.

Objective & significance of controlled breathing through Pranayama Yoga

The objective of breathing is to keep us alive. But that’s just a generalized viewpoint, and yoga is all about the microscopic details of the body & soul. So, as per the Yogic system, the nature of inhaling & exhaling air determines the quality of life, happiness quotient & the level of mental & spiritual maturity of a living entity.

Breathing is something that we often take for granted. We tend to forget that it is the only thing that separates the living from the dead. But today, we want to tell you that by achieving control over breathing, you will become able to regulate not only your physical health but also the emotions and overall well-being. All this can be done by regularly practising pranayama Yoga, and just by that, you will regain complete control over your mind & body.

Always keep these things in your mind while breathing:

significance of Pranayama Yoga
  1. Take deep breaths
  2. Inhale through your nostrils instead of the mouth
  3. Fill the air into your lungs rather than the abdomen
  4. Breath Slowly with a gratitude mentality

Now, let’s understand the significance of controlled breathing by looking over the Animal kingdom. There are many different animals with different breathing frequencies and different life spans. If we connect the dots, we will find some exciting relations in this regard.

AnimalBreathing Frequency (approx.)Life-Span (approx.)
Turtle4-5 times / minute200-400 years
Snake8-10 times / minute120-150 years
Human15-16 times / minute80-100 years
Horse24-26 times / minute35-40 years
Cat28-30 times / minute18-20 years
Dog30-32 times / minute14-15 years

With this table, we can see that Life-forms with slower & calmer breathing habits tends to live more than those with faster breathing. Scientific studies have also proven that Controlled, slow breathing appears to be an effective means of maximizing HRV and preserving autonomic function, both of which have been associated with decreased mortality in pathological states and longevity in the general population.

Scientific evidence & Research :

The Importance of Air or ‘Vayu’ in Ayurveda according to Charak Samhita

As said already, the air is one of the most significant driving forces of human health, which can both elevate it or ruin it. Air element ids often termed as “Vata” in Ayurveda and are described very profoundly with all the merits & demerits. Charak Samhita is one of the oldest known books of Ayurveda, which explains the air element in the 8th Shloka of Chapter 12 in ‘Sutra Sthana’. It says:

The Importance of Air or ‘Vayu’ in Ayurveda

Vata in its normalcy maintains the whole body and its systems, working as prāna, udāna, samāna, and apāna. It is the initiator of all kinds of activities within the body, the controller and impellor of all mental functions, and the employer of all sensory faculties (helping in the enjoyment of their subjects). It joins the body tissues and brings compactness to the body, prompts speech, is the origin of touch and sound, is the root cause of auditory and tactile sense faculties, is the causative factor of joy and courage, stimulates the digestive fire, and helps in the absorption of the dośhās and ejection of the excretory products. Vata traverses all gross and subtle channels, moulds the embryo shape and is the indicator of continuity of life.

Benefits of Pranayama Yoga

Pranayama benefits are unlimited. It is bound to upgrade all the aspects of the life of any human. Despite the list of benefits of Pranayama Yoga being so extensive, we have tried to condense it to fewer points that address the most common problems that we face in today’s world. All these Pranayama benefits are backed by various studies & research done by the Government entities & some most reputed private firms as well.

The most significant benefits of Pranayama Yoga that modern science has already proven to be true can be enlisted as :

  1. Increases Lung capacity & functionality
  2. Helps managing stress
  3. Improves attentiveness
  4. Removes toxins from the body
  5. Ameliorate digestion & abdomen health
  6. Regulates blood pressure & HTN
  7. Improves quality of sleep
  8. Minimize effects of ageing
  9. Boosts immunity & kills Tri-doshas
  10. Bring down blood-related problems
  11. Beneficial in eliminating cigarette addiction

We suggest you read the ‘Patanjali yoga sutra’ & the ‘Hath yoga pradipika’ to know the in-depth mechanism & logic behind Pranayama Yoga. Anyways let’s understand in details all the benefits that we have listed above:

Pranayama Benefits for Lung capacity & functionality

One of the most remarkable benefits of Pranayama is its effect on the respiratory system. The controlled deep breathing techniques stretches the muscles of the lungs to their full capacity & removes any blockage hindering the oxygen circulation.

A study was done on 50 participants to evaluate the effects of Pranayama and meditation on respiratory parameters published in the International Journal of Collaborative Research on Internal Medicine & Public Health. It shows that even 15 days of Pranayama practice is beneficial in improving respiratory functions even in healthy individuals irrespective of age, gender and BMI.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Ujjayi Pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama Benefits in managing stress

Sitting in a quiet environment & performing Pranayama helps to bring resonance between Mind, Body & the universe. As per Ayurveda, one should embrace the positive energy while inhalation & let go of all the negativity & stress while we Exhale.

Pranayama Helps managing stress

A study done in 2015 determines the Psychological benefits of Pranayama Yoga. It says that the regular practice of Pranayama can be pretty effective in not only overcoming anxiety and depression among the elderly but also help them in promoting mental health, which will help them develop a sort of resilience to any psychological or physical illness. Pranayama has been reported to be beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders, improving autonomic functions, relieving asthma symptoms, and reducing signs of oxidative stress.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Kapalabhati, Anuloma Viloma, Ujjayi, Bhastrika, Sitali, Sitkari, Surya Bhedana & Bhramari

Scientific evidence & Research :

  1. Effect of fast and slow Pranayama on perceived stress and cardiovascular parameters in young health-care students. – Sharma VK, Trakroo M, Subramaniam V, Rajajeyakumar M, Bhavanani AB, Sahai A. Int J Yoga. 2013 Jul;6(2):104-10. Doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.113400. PMID: 23930028; PMCID: PMC3734635.
  2. Stress management techniques for studentsK. Kassymova, N. Kosherbayeva, S. Sangilbayev, Hans Schachl. September 2018, ISBN 978-94-6252-577-1 ISSN 2352-5398

Pranayama Improves attentiveness

Yoga-based practices like Pranayama refines the mental status of the practitioner & increases self-awareness. Pranayama purifies the senses & decreases the time of response towards internal & external stimuli.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Kapalabhati, Anuloma Viloma, & Bhramari

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama removes toxins from the body

One of the major purposes of yoga breathing exercise is to supply the body with oxygen and cleanse it of carbon dioxide and other toxins.

When we exhale during the controlled breathing process of Pranayama with proper awareness, our body throws out all the toxic wastes that are bi-products of various bodily functions. More & more oxygen diffuses into the bloodstream through the lungs and helps complete the body’s complete detoxification.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Vibhaga pranayama, Kapalabhati pranayama, Nadi suddhi pranayama, and Savithri pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama Ameliorate digestion & abdomen health

Generally, most of the bodily aliments are somehow associated with the improper functioning of the digestive system. It might be gastritis, constipation or something as common as indigestion. But, these tiny looking factors impact big on our mood & overall health.

The practice of Pranayama immediately minimizes the problems of the digestive tract and improvises the absorption of nutrients. Further, it also improves the digestive fire and improvises the metabolism of the body.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Kapalabhati

Scientific evidence & Research :

  • Applied aspect of Pranayama in maintaining healthSingh V Dr, Rao PN Dr, Shailaja U Dr, Reena K Dr; From 5th World Ayurveda Congress 2012 Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. 7-10 Dec 2012. PA01.44. Anc Sci Life. 2012 Dec;32(Suppl 1): S94. PMCID: PMC3800977.

Pranayama Benefits for blood pressure & HTN

Pranayama yoga removes the obstructions of blood circulation and thus relieves the nervous system from the extra stress. This process ultimately results in bringing the blood pressure between normal limits. This form of yoga is also found to have a positive impact in cases of hypertension.

It is further proven by a 2009 study which says that Pranayama increases frequency and duration of inhibitory neural impulses by activating pulmonary stretch receptors during above tidal volume inhalation as in Hering Bruer reflex, which brings about withdrawal of sympathetic tone in the skeletal muscle blood vessels, leading to widespread vasodilatation, thus causing a decrease in peripheral resistance and thus decreasing the diastolic blood pressure.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Bhastrika & Sukha Pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

  1. Immediate Effect of Sukha Pranayama on Cardiovascular Variables in Patients of HypertensionAnanda Balayogi Bhavanani, Zeena Sanjay, Madanmohan;  Int J Yoga Therapy 1 October 2011; 21 (1): 73–76.

Pranayama Benefits quality of sleep

Pranayama Improves quality of sleep

Practicing controlled breathing techniques like Pranayama on a regular basis calms the mind and thus helps in a peaceful sleep. Moreover, it also clears up the nasal & respiratory tract, which lowers the chances of snoring.

A 2019 study done in this regard concludes that Oropharyngeal exercises and Pranayama are effective in reducing snoring and daytime sleepiness. Pranayama is also found effective in improving the quality of sleep in patients suffering from OSAS.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Anulom-Vilom Pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama Benefits to Minimize effects of ageing

The effect of a stress-free mind & disease-free body is evident to make you look more dynamic & younger. But, the impact of Pranayama yoga is much more than what we most commonly observe.

On a more genetic level, it has been observed that asana, Pranayama, and meditation can help maintain genomic integrity and are of crucial importance to human health and lifestyle disorders. Many scientific studies stress the effectiveness of asana, Pranayama, and meditation in maintaining telomere and telomerase, which plays a significant role in oxidative DNA damage and cellular ageing.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Bhastrika & Bhramari pranayama with shanmukhi mudra

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama Boosts immunity & kills Tri-doshas

In Ayurveda, the cause of most of the bodily diseases is said to be the imbalance of Vata, Pitta or Kapha, which are collectively addressed as the ‘Tri-doshas’. Although there are medicines for each imbalance, but the practice of Pranayama is something that surpasses all these. Whatever may be the misbalancing element, regular pranayama practice can easily balance them out.

Pranayama increases the might of your body to fight against infectious diseases & germs. A happy mind & rejuvenated body can work more easily and effectively against any problem.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Anulom-Vilom, Bhramari

Scientific evidence & Research :

  • Pranayama Boost ImmunityS, Maheswari. 2021.  International Research Journal of Tamil 3 (2):11-17. https://doi.org/10.34256/irjt2122.

Pranayama Benefits for blood-related problems

Pranayama benefits the quality of the blood by increasing the quantity of RBC. Red Blood Cells (RBCs) are the most numerous blood cells that give blood its characteristic colour & carry oxygen from the lungs to all body parts through haemoglobin.

A study done in 2015 shows a significant increase in the amount of RBC with Systematic 6 weeks of Sectional Breathing Pranayama Practice. Another research also shows that Pranayama significantly increases oxygen diffusion in the blood, which is vital for good health.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama: Nadi-Suddhi Pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

Pranayama Benefits in eliminating cigarette addiction

eliminating cigarette addiction

The practice of Pranayama yoga is an excellent choice for people who are trying to quit the habit of smoking. It not only reduces the cravings but is also helpful in coping-up with the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine addiction.

Most beneficial Type of Pranayama : Anulom-Vilom Pranayama

Scientific evidence & Research :

  1. The acute effects of yogic breathing exercises on craving and withdrawal symptoms in abstaining smokers. – Shahab, L., Sarkar, B.K. & West, R. Psychopharmacology 225, 875–882 (2013).

Pranayama In Bhagavad Gita

The mention of pranayama yoga comes in the 29th & 30th shloka of 4th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita. In these two shlokas Lord Krishna about pranayama Yoga & its benefits.

Pranayama In Bhagavad Gita

Meaning of the shloka:

Still others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming breath, while some offer the incoming breath into the outgoing breath. Some arduously practice pranayama and restrain the incoming and outgoing breaths, purely absorbed in the regulation of the life-energy. Yet others curtail their food intake and offer the breath into the life-energy as sacrifice. All these knowers of sacrifice are cleansed of their impurities as a result of such performances.

Supporting scientific studies & Research References on Pranayama Benefits:

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