Yesterday when my spondylitis pain kicked into my upper back and neck, I skipped yoga in the morning as I did not have the energy. The throbbing pain elevated to my head and caused me migraine for several hours. In the evening I finally gave up and thought of putting my breathing techniques into test. I am so glad I did so otherwise I would not have been so confident as today about pranayama (deep breathing techniques). I performed pranayama for 25 minutes and guess what just half an hour later, all the spondylitis pain including my migraine disappeared! This made me so excited to know that I have control over my body via my breathing and I felt like I conquered the world. You are breathing right now without even realizing it, so why not train your body to breathe mindfully so that you can transform your mind and body while gaining so many health benefits. So I wanted to write this post and share all the wonderful benefits of pranayama that you deserve to know and have been missing out, if you have not made this a part of your routine yet. The benefits of deep breathing are endless and the list goes on, hence I would like to list the top 5 benefits of deep breathing exercises but before you get started with deep breathing make sure you check out the daily yoga routine for beginners so that you know how to prepare yourself for deep breathing exercises.
1. Control stress and exhilarate your mood
Prana is the vital source of energy in the universe that exists around us and sustain us. By controlling our breathing, we can have control over the energy (prana) in our body. When we have control over the universal energy in our body, then we have better control over our mind. You must have noticed the miracle of deep breathing and perhaps been told by many to practice deep breathing when you are stressed out. Hence it is safe to say that deep breathing is the only technique to control emotions. Therefore you can easily control your mind and emotions by deep breathing. Think about a time, when you were stressed or anxious, how did your body respond? Your heart beat changed from slow to rapid and you started breathing quickly, and guess what you have very little control over yourself as now your body has taken the “fight or flight” response. This means your body will prepare itself to face the problem or simply avoid it.
This repeated response to stressful situation will cause your body to develop a habit of rapid breathing and hence will effect your emotions and lead to a habit of taking stress. So lets reverse the process,Why let stress take control over your breathing when your breathing can control stress. Next time when you are stressed, practice pranayama (deep breathing techniques) and focus on your breathing, you will notice the calming effect on your body. Pranayama will help your body get into the habit of slow breathing. This will not only calm you down but will lead to endless health benefits.
2. Shed pounds within a month
Did you know that deep breathing helps you maintain appropriate weight? Imagine just sitting and deep breathing for 20 minutes a day and loosing inches as much as 20 pounds within a month without any diet plan, without spending on expensive workout equipments or clothes, gym membership, no time wasted commuting anywhere. Now that’s a pretty cheap investment just 20 minutes a day without burning yourself out of vigorous exercises. Now how does this work? So Deep breathing does so many things at once, it increases the absorption of nutrients by the cells, increases metabolism, enhances the digestion process and increases the intake of oxygen that breaks down fat molecules. Deep breathing will not only reduce overall body weight specially in the belly fat but will also strengthen muscles.
3. Controls high blood pressure and cardio diseases
When we are stressed, the increase in the heart beat causes the blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure adversely effects every part of our body; the kidney, eyes, increase in blood sugar levels, brain (stroke, headaches, confusion) and lastly it accounts for a major risk for heart disease. It would be silly to say that avoid stress and it is not possible either. But we can help our body prepare to cope better with stress by introducing stress management technique via deep breathing. Deep breathing slows down our heart beat and hence causes the blood pressure to drop or remain stable.
4. Look and feel younger with a longer life span
As has been researched by Benson the author of the book “Relaxation Revolution” that breathing exercises can alter the way the genes response. Benson says “here you use the mind to change the body, and the genes we’re changing were the very genes acting in an opposite fashion when people are under stress”. Have you noticed most yogis have a toned body and beautiful skin? The secret lies in deep breathing. You have this tool too that is free of cost and is the most effective anti-aging tool to give you the healthiest and beautiful skin that no anti-aging creams or skin care treatments can buy you. Another study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health proves that deep breathing reduces the rate at which cells age. Telomeres cells are responsible for providing longevity and youthful appearance, so the longer the lifespan of telomeres, the slower the aging process. However, exposure to stress and depression has been linked directly to reduce the length of telomeres whereas mindfulness breathing obstructs the pathways of stress and increase the length of telomeres. This means that you will not only look younger in appearance but will live longer too.
5. No more muscle pain and migraines
All throughout the post I have been talking about stress how it effects every part and organ of our body. Undoubtedly, stress is the cause for muscle pain too. All the stress is accumulated in the shoulders, neck and back, this built up over time starts bothering us with severe pain in these areas. Deep breathing also increases our tolerance to pain, I have noticed how this applies to my upper back pain. The days I perform deep breathing, I feel so relaxed but when I skip deep breathing exercises for a few days I notice that the unpleasant pain reappears.
The most important deep breathing exercises that you must practice everyday are
- Anulom Vilom
- Bhramari Pranayama
- Bahya Pranayama
These have been briefly explained in the earlier post, yoga for diabetes cure .
I hope you found this post helpful. Please leave your comments or suggestions below and I will be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.
Following sources have been used