Pranayama is a core part of Kundalini Yoga. The practice involves controlling your breath to enact physiological changes in your body. So, how does breathwork fit into a modern context? Here’s what you need to know and how to use pranayama in your day-to-day life.
What Science Says About Breathwork
First things first, if you’re new to the world of breathwork, you may be wondering what it’s all about. When you get started with sessions, you will see that there are many pranayama benefits you can reap. Let’s take a look at some of the science behind this technique.
1. Human Breathwork Can Be Remarkable
Can you imagine holding your breath for seven minutes? It might sound wild but the human body is more remarkable than many of us realize. Believe it or not, French freediving champion, Guillaume Nery can hold his breath for up to seven minutes and 42 seconds. This remarkable ability has allowed him to dive a record-breaking 140 meters into water without the use of any scuba diving equipment or breathing aids.
What can we learn from Nery’s story? The answer is simple. The human body is capable of completing great feats when we put our minds to it. When you start using pranayama in your life, you will realize that it has an immense impact on how you feel. One of the major benefits of breathwork is that you can change your mental and physical state easily.
2. It Can Impact the Autonomic Nervous System
Before 2011, scientists believed that it was literally impossible to impact or alter the autonomic nervous system. However, pioneer in the area of breathwork, Wim Hof, the so known ‘Ice Man’ debunked that theory completely. By demonstrating that he was able to voluntarily influence his autonomic nervous system using breathing techniques, meditation, and exposure to the cold, he changed the scientific work forever.
In 2014, scientists from Radboud University, The Netherlands delved deeper into this subject. Their groundbreaking research found that both the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be influenced by using the above techniques. The experts concluded that these techniques could be useful in treating a variety of illnesses.
3. It Can Help to Fight Depression
Pranayama can also have an impact on your mental health. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that yogic breathing could help people with depression. Participants that took part in breathing sessions were likely to have fewer depressive symptoms than those that did not. Put simply, the study suggests that using breathing techniques, such as pranayama, could improve your mental well-being.
How to Use Pranayama in Your Life
Now that you understand the pranayama benefits and what science has to say about it, let’s talk about how you can use it. Many Kundalini Yoga meditation sessions include an element of breathwork. However, it doesn’t have to start and finish there.
There are specific types of pranayama that you can use for different purposes. For example, when you’re stressed, you might try a simple breathwork for stress relief. On the other hand, you could use breathwork to strengthen your aura. The choice is yours! Start looking into the variations of pranayama today and figure out what works for you.