Yoga is a 5000 year old Indian discipline of harmonising the mind and body. Millions of people practice yoga regularly and it has gained incredible popularity in the west in recent years. 30 million people in the U.S. alone practice Yoga. Pranayam is a part of Yoga which means “extending the life force”.
Here in this article, we explore the health benefits of Yoga on the respiratory system. A healthy respiratory system is vital to proper functioning of the body. Our respiratory system functions by converting oxygen to energy and giving out carbon-dioxide. With increasing pollution in the air in our modern cities and sedentary lifestyles, we see Sinus, Asthma and shortness of breath as common problems. Caring for our lungs has thus become critical.
The yogic practice of “Pranayam” specifically focuses on our respiratory health. When we practice breathing consciously, our rate of breathing drops and the amount of oxygen inhaled increases with fewer number of breaths. According to a study, after a month of practicing Yoga, the average respiratory rate in people with lung problems decreased from 13.4 to 7.6 breaths per minute. (Yoga Journal)
In another study, the rate of oxygen intake increases by upto 5 times when we practice “complete breathing” through Pranayam. This inturn increases our blood oxygen levels besides having a very calming effect on our minds. Also there is an increase in alertness and energy levels throughout the day. Some prominent pranayam exercises are Nadi Shodhan (Anulom Vilom), Kapalabhati, Ujjayi and Sitali pranayam.
Along with Pranayam, few Yogic poses such as the Bhujang asana (Cobra pose) and Adhomukha Svanasan (Downward facing dog), help in expanding the lungs and strengthening chest muscles.
Img – https://www.jackcuneo.com/blog/2014/10/4/bhujangasana-i-cobra-1-pose
Bhujang – Asana (Cobra Pose)
Adhomukha-svanasan (Downward facing dog)
Img – https://www.yogauonline.com/yoga-pose-primer/downward-facing-dog-adho-mukha-svanasana
Practicing Yoga regularly also improves blood circulation, improves our posture and has an overall invigorating effect on the mind and body. It also reduces stress, aids digestion and improves sleep.
This article is part of a series on the Health Benefits of Yoga.
Cover pic – https://www.yogabasics.com/practice/pranayama/pranayama-benefits/