The ancient practice of Pranayama is a type of breathing exercise that has been used for centuries to clear the mind and calm the body. It is a powerful tool that can help us achieve better health and immunity.
In the last blog post, we talked about enhancing our immune system with yoga in tough times, especially for people in countries that are facing the second wave of covid-19. We also talked about a few pranayama exercises that have proven to be very effective when it comes to immunity. Today we will talk about the Science of Pranayama and a tailored list of Pranayamas which will boost your health and immunity.
The Science of Pranayama
Studies have shown that practicing pranayama for 20 to 90 days significantly improved pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, and respiratory functions in both male and female participants.
Pranayama can reduce blood pressure and calm the heart. This increases the lifespan of the blood vessels. Hence, long-term regular practice of pranayama can help prevent diseases such as stroke, migraines, and Parkinson's.
Pranayama is not just a breath regulation exercise, it also has a spiritual aspect to it as it involves “conscious breathing”. Conscious breathing or mindfulness has numerous benefits of its own such as creating emotional stability, reducing stress and anxiety, creating a relaxed state and easing depression, and there’s more.
Pranayama’s Effect on the Nervous System
Conscious breathing stimulates the Parasympathetic nervous system through the Vagus nerve. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body's rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. It basically undoes the work of the sympathetic nervous system after a stressful situation. The Vagus nerve runs from the base of the brain to the abdomen and is responsible for managing nervous system responses and reducing heart rate.
The vagus nerve releases acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in increasing calm and focus. Hence, by performing pranayama, you stimulate the vagus nerve, which releases acetylcholine, which directly lowers anxiety levels. This also promotes feelings of connectedness and positive emotion.
Other benefits of pranayama include stopping grey cells from diminishing with age, improving one’s memory and focus, immune functions, metabolic activity, and insulin secretion.
Pranayamas To Perform For Immunity Boost
1. Ujjayi Breathing
Essentially Ujjayi is an advanced form of breath control that can help you to achieve a deep meditative state when done properly. Ujjayi Breathing is known by many names including ocean breathing, snake breathing, whispering breathing, snoring breathing, and ujjayi pranayama. We also have a dedicated blog post about ujjayi breathing.
Kapalbhati or Breath of Fire is one of the most important pranayamas in hatha yoga. It helps us exhales the toxins in our body thus enhancing our health. It strengthens our cells, tissues, glands, and organs. Additionally, it improves blood circulation and digestion.
3. Nadi Shodhan
Nadi Shodhan is popularly known as “Anulom Vilom”. The word Anulom means 'with the grain', and Vilom, 'against the grain '. It follows that this is an exercise that involves breathing through the opposite nostrils, one nostril at a time. It is known for relieving stress and anxiety, improving respiratory and cardiovascular health, and overall sense of well-being.
Brahmri is also known as “Bee breathe” uses the combination of sound and breathe to calm the mind. It may also be pleasurable and relaxing to many. Many benefits of Brahmri have been reported including reduction of stress and anxiety, anger, frustration, and blood pressure. It is also beneficial for your throat and can provide a good sonorous voice.
To learn the ancient practice of Pranayama from an expert teacher and practice yoga with the aim to boost health and immunity, don't forget to take a look at our schedule for live yoga classes and join in!