How Pranayama Benefits the Brain?…


How Pranayama Benefits the Brain?



“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.– Thích Nhót Hanh.

Prime emphasis is laid upon the understanding and practice of pranayama in the study of yogic science. As one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, pranayama is a technique of regulating the breath or the vital force and aids in granting the vital energy to the body and mind. People delving into the regular and constant practice of pranayama report feelings of calmness, better sleep patterns, emotional balance, and so much more.

Intrigued by these claims, many wish to find out how pranayama benefits the brain? Here is a list of the key benefits of yogic breathing:

1. Regulates the Autonomic Nervous System: The autonomic system is closely connected with the physiological processes such as absorption, respiration, immune system, etc. The sympathetic nervous system or fight-flight-response gets activated whenever we encounter stressful situations or feel anxious. When the sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, our body and mind suffer. It lowers the blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract and increases blood pressure resulting in digestive, cardiovascular illness, and other problems. Yogic breathing techniques kick-start the parasympathetic nervous system (or the calm-connect response) which allow us to recoup from the daily stress. The slow, deep breathing, brings a sense of calmness. It also activates the reflective, responsive regions of the brain leading to conscious behavior, greater creativity, and thoughtful actions.

2. Lower Stress Levels: Pranayama is effective in lowering the production of stress-related hormones cortisol in the body. Under the stress, the whole physiological body of human suffers negatively. Yogic breathing techniques promote healthy mind-body relationship, reduces stress, which in turn lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension and slows the heart rate which favorably affects the body and mind of a person. The practice of various breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing, skull shining pranayama, etc., is a great energizer, which calm the brain and effectively release stress. Researches also state that deep yogic breathing techniques reduce anxiety, depression, and elevates the mood of a person.

3. Healthy Brain Functions: The practice and teachings of pranayama strengthen the breath awareness and expands the lung and diaphragm capacity. It also increases oxygen supply to the brain that nourishes the brain cells and helps them function at optimal level. Pranayama also promotes the growth of neurons and neural pathways to help a practitioner get out of the ruts of old thinking patterns. Creating new ways of thinking has shown a decrease in the feelings of anxiousness and depression.



4. Peaceful Mind: Our brain has to toggle restlessly between endless tasks that have been linked to decreased attention span, lower performance levels, and short-term memory. The regular practice of pranayama slows down the number of thoughts, relaxes the brain, and creates a more positive mindset. A peaceful mind awakens inner strength and confidence and helps a person deal with difficult situations in a better way.

5. Affects areas of the brain on a Microscopic level: Scientific studies reveal that yogic breathing techniques positively impact the various areas of the brain such as regulating pituitary adrenal axis, sympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress response, and even controlling areas afflicted with trauma resulting in greater psychological health and well-being of a person.

6. Enhances Physiological and Psychological health: The physical health of a person directly influences the mental health of an individual. Therefore, yogic breathing techniques foster robust health that ripples out to the mind and increases the wellness of both.

Keep practicing the science of pranayama for a healthy and sound mind and live your life to the fullest.

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Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveler in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh,…

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