(Last Updated On: April 16, 2020)

The word Pranayama is made up of two words, ‘Prana’ and “Ayama’. ‘Prana’ means the vital life force energy and ‘Ayama’ means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayama is the practice of regulating and uplifting that life-force energy in our body. This ancient technique of regulating the breathe was usually done by yogis to gain control over their involuntary function.

Anulom Vilom Pranayama For Health benefits

Today, even science proves that doing pranayama can help you get wonderful benefits that you may have never thought of before. Pranayama strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system. It is one of the best practices to strengthen your parasympathetic nervous system. Doing so, the body, the mind, and the nervous system come into balance.

Health Benefits of Pranayama

There are many scientific and logical pieces of research that show how pranayama benefits our health. As each health problem have their own diagnosis, similarly, there are different types of Pranayama for specific health problems. 

What Pranayama Should You Do for Health Problems?

Practicing different types of Pranayama comes with its own individual benefits, which also have their own guidelines. When followed regularly and properly, you can get amazing health and mental benefits.

1. Pranayama for Respiratory Problems and Sinus

Pranayama is an active process of inhaling and exhaling air while sitting in a specific asana. During pranayama, you force your lungs to inflate and deflate which in turn plays a pivotal role in improving the elasticity and recoiling capacity of your lungs.

Similarly, the muscles which help in respiration also get energized as the intake in oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide increases. And as you are respiring with force, muscles like diaphragm, sternocleidomastoid, intercostal muscles get exercised which strengthens for further activity.

Amazingly, pranayama not only helps to improve the strength of the whole respiratory system but also helps to increase the vital capacity of lungs and decrease the chance of getting lung diseases like COPD, empyema and many more. Nevertheless, pranayama also plays a pivotal role in clearing the air passage and getting rid of the sinus problem for sure.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Breath

Scientific Research and Result

A research paper based on a study conducted on 50 adults subject was published by Shankarappa V, Prashanth P, Nachal Annamalai, Varunmalhotra to know the effect of pranayama. Additionally, Nadishuddi and Savitri Pranayama training for 1 hour daily, for 6 days a week was done.

The first phase of the recording of the pulmonary parameters was done at the beginning of their course. The second phase of the recording was done after 6 weeks of the regular pranayama practice and the results obtained were as follows.

The dynamic parameters of the lung including Pulmonary function tests showed marked improvement. At the end of the research, it was seen that the participants had a tendency to resist normal flu and this newly acquired strengthen of the lung could be used to treat various lung diseases like asthma, allergic bronchitis, occupational diseases and recoveries after pneumonia and tuberculosis.

2. Prayanama for Weight Loss

You don’t have to do much to increase your weight but when it comes to losing a few of those fatty pounds, it is one of the toughest jobs that you will ever have to work on. Nonetheless, there is a powerful Pranayama which will help to lose weight and burn those excessive fats, when done regularly.

This Pranayama technique helps to speed up your metabolism by directly acting on the thyroids. According to the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Vishuddha chakra is present in the thyroid region and proper flow of prana through the Sushumna Nadi in the chakra helps in the proper functioning of the neighboring organ.

Similarly, due to activation of the Vishuddha chakra, the thyroid is directly impacted which improves metabolism. Having a good metabolism is what helped you have a slim body during your teens, and it is what that will also help you lose your excess weight and get back in shape again.

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Pranayama To Do:

  • Kapalbhati Pranayama

Scientific Research and Result

A study was published in the International Journal of Yoga, Physiotherapy and Physical Education, titled Pranayam on obesity of affected individuals and Dr.Subhash S Dadhe was the author.

In this study, A total of 50 people were randomly selected after declaring them as medically fit for this study. They were divided into two groups of 25 each, one being the study group and others being the control group. The study group participated in the regular pranayama activities for 6 weeks.

There was a significant decrease in the Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist-Hip ratio of the participants. Thus, suggesting that people who regularly practice Pranayama could achieve desired weight loss, despite having a sedentary lifestyle.

3. Pranayama for Anti-Aging and Glowing Skin

With aging, we grow wrinkles on our face, weakness in our bones, stiffness in muscles and slowness in recalling memory stored in our brain. Well, all these are very natural; however, this aging process is growing due to stress and lifestyle, thus it can be slowed down.

Practicing pranayama not only helps you improve the functioning of your lungs but also helps you rejuvenate your whole system from both inside and outside. It helps to improve the uniform oxygenation in all parts of the body including your skin.

With the improvement in cutaneous circulation, the epidermal tissue of your skin gets required oxygen and proper removal of waste byproduct. Similarly, the formation of free radicals is controlled which in turn makes your skin healthy, fresh and bright.

Moreover, regular pranayama also aids to increase the replication of stem cells, due to which repair of dead and damaged tissue occurs quickly. This phenomenon applies in all the tissue of the body including bone formation and neuron protection. It is believed that the controlled breathing technique is responsible for the stimulation of cells in the hypothalamus region which decreases the aging process and increases the formation of stem cells. Therefore, slowing down your anti-aging process all in all.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Bhramari Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Breath
  • Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana
Scientific Research and Result

An article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine by Apar Avinash Saoji, B.R.Raghavendra, and N.K.Manjunath explains the effects of yogic breathe regulation in many parts of the body including the skin.

The anti-oxidant, cellular and tissue effects of pranayama that improve skin health and prevent premature aging e.g. facial lines, wrinkles, freckles, dark spots, etc. Similarly, it was seen that there was a positive effect in the central nervous system as well.

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama

4. Pranayama for Immunity

Regular practice of pranayama techniques and various yoga asanas can increase our immunity and take our body to its best potentials. Moreover, as the lymphatic system of the body improves, antibody proliferation can occur quickly due to which minute infection can easily be resisted by the body’s immune system.

The removal of waste at the cellular level also increases due to the proper functioning of the lymphatic system due to which the bacterias cannot proliferate easily and the body can function well.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Kapalbhati Pranayam
  • Bhramari Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Scientific Research and Result

Yoga and immune system functioning: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health was a research done to see the effects of yoga and pranayama over the immune system.

The regular practice of yogic breathing techniques regulates pro-inflammatory markers which help to increase anti-body like IgA, IgM, and IgG.  Thus, when practiced properly and for a longer duration, it helps to boost immunity by achieving consistent effects on circulating markers.

5. Pranayama for Central Nervous System (The Brain)

Our brain is already a masterpiece but we still haven’t utilized its total capability. What if we could boost your brain to its full (or higher) potentials. Regular practice of pranayama increases our life force energy and thus, with higher energy, we can definitely achieve a higher potential.

One of the best effects of pranayama is in preserving the grey matter of the brain. Grey matter is the content in the brain that consists of many neurons and which are responsible for your memory but as we age neurons die and grey matter decreases. On the other hand, if you do pranayama regularly, chances are, your stem cell will function well and the death of neurons won’t speed up.

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Similarly, as pranayama helps to calm us by improving the parasympathetic supply over sympathetic activity, acetylcholine is released in a huge amount which has a positive effect on the brain. It helps to improve memory, arousal, attention span and most importantly, helps in motivation to do any task.

To top it all off, pranayama plays an essential role in reducing the risk of nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis and even meningioma and other brain cancer. As yogic breathing techniques helps to oxygenate overall parts of the brain and improve the blood circulation which in turn helps to provide food and nutrient, and also take out all the metabolic waste products.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Surya Bhedna Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana

Scientific Research and Result

The research on “Effect of Fast and Slow Pranayama Practice on Cognitive Functions In Healthy Volunteers” was done and published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. Here 84 participants of age group 18-25 years were recruited for slow and fast pranayama; moreover, they had to do pranayama for 12 weeks.

It was seen that both (slow & fast) types of pranayama improve cognitive functions. The fast pranayama e.g Kapalabhati, Bhastrika were shown to enhance sensory-motor performance, including manipulation in auditory working memory. While slow pranayama were beneficial for stress reduction and for improving cognitive functions.

6. Pranayama For Cardiovascular Diseases

Pranayama calms a person and when a person is in a calm state of mind, the heart rate drops down to a normal rate. Therefore, due to the parasympathetic activation and also proper pulmonary circulation, the heart pumps at a required speed which is sufficient enough to keep the vital physiology of the body.

Moreover, pranayama does not let the free radical to accumulate in the body due to this fact, destruction of blood vessel slows down as a result of which vascular diseases like atherosclerosis, plague formation, stiffening of the vessel are prevented.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Sukha Pranayama
  • Pranava Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Breath

Scientific Research and Result

A 6-week long study titled ” Effect of pranayama on rate pressure product in mild hypertensives ” was done on both males and females of age group 20-50 years having mild hypertension. They were subjected to pranayama along with regular intake of anti-hypertensive medication.

It was amazingly seen that pranayama had reduced BP significantly compared to medication alone. Moreover, in those patients who were more prone to develop heart attack due to their cholesterol level in the body and the condition of blood vessels, it was found that their health condition had significantly improved and the blood pressure was surprisingly under much control.

7. Pranayama for Balancing Hormones

The main reason why some people have extreme mood fluctuation is mostly due to the hormonal condition. When our dopamine level is high, we tend to feel elated and extremely positive. However, when its level is low we become depressed with all kinds of thought running all over our brain. If this goes on excessively, it even leads to a tendency to go into bipolar disorder.

Therefore, doing pranayama regularly helps to bring the hypothalamus and the pineal gland under control which in turn regulates a proper hormonal cycle in the body and in turn prevents mood fluctuation.

Moreover, even for females who have a very irregular menstruation cycle, doing pranayama regularly could give much need positive results.

Pranayama To Do:

  • Kapalabhati Pranayama
  • Supta Baddha Konasana and Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Breath

In Conclusion

If we could notice, there were some Pranayama such as, Kapalabhati Pranayama, Bhastrika Pranayama, Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and Ujjayi Breath that were mentioned in multiple sections. It is because there are some very powerful techniques that numerous benefits than even the ones mentioned above.

Practicing Pranayama has many benefits for our physical, mental and even our spiritual well being. Therefore, having it listed in our daily routine is one of the wisest decisions you can make!

References: FITSRI | GOQii | NCBI | ScienceDirect | JCDR | BeBeautiful