January 22, 2024

The Benefits of Pranayama


Pranayama, or yoganic breathing practice, helps bring balance to our mind, body and spirit. It promotes relaxation and mindfulness while alleviating many physical conditions. In addition, pranayama strengthens lungs while decreasing fatigue - all hallmarks of health benefits over time! Developed over millennia by Yogic masters thousands of years ago, pranayama is proven to bring benefits both mentally and physically.

Pranayama regulates the autonomic nervous system to improve cardiovascular and respiratory health. It does this by encouraging parasympathetic activity through left nasal breathing - stimulating its "rest and digest" functions - as well as increasing nitric oxide production which relaxes blood vessels - particularly helpful for those experiencing chronic stress, anxiety or depression.

Exercise therapy may also improve quality of life for people living with cancer by decreasing fatigue and other emotional responses, with limited evidence from controlled studies suggesting both physiological and psychological advantages.

One study demonstrated how Sitali (commonly referred to as Cooling Breath) pranayama improved both fatigue levels and quality-of-life scores among cancer chemotherapy patients, through slow deep breathing that soothes the body at any time of day. Ideal for people suffering from asthma as it soothes lung function; safe for most but contraindicated for those with high/low blood pressure, heart conditions, ulcers, detached retina or glaucoma as well as pregnancy. Other pranayama exercises which may be practiced anytime include Ujjayi, Victorious Breath Hissing Breath or Ocean's Breath.

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