Yoga is an ancient discipline, born thousands of years ago in India with the aim to restore and maintain balance and health of mind, body and emotions. We are witnessing a great spread of yoga all over the world and this thanks to the numerous scientific researches that are demonstrating its effectiveness as an aid to control stress and chronic inflammation in the body, which, as we have seen in several posts, can cause in the long run cardiovascular or autoimmune diseases, depression and even tumors. Yoga consists of physical exercises, which are the asanas or yoga positions, and exercises that focus on the breath, the pranayama, the topic of today. Pranayama are techniques that help to control the regularity of breathing and result really beneficial for both mind and body. In fact, as demonstrated by scientific studies, the exercises pranayama improve respiratory function, by decreasing the frequency of breathing and strengthening the muscles involved in breathing (Sengupta, Int J Prev Med, Jul 2012), moreover, help to control the anxiety, that we can experience every day without a specific reason or before an important exam, may clear the nasal cavities and lower blood pressure, help to fight headaches and pains, increase energy and vitality and show a beneficial effect even in case of asthma, as demonstrated by a study published in 1990 in the prestigious journal Lancet (Nemati et al, Int J Yoga, Jan-Jun 2013 - Ankad et al, Heart Views, Apr-Jun 2011 - Singh et al, Lancet, Jun 1990). The word Pranayma comes from Sanskrit and is the result of the union of the words prana, vital energy, and ayama, expansion, and translated means expansion of vital energy, an energy that circulates in the nadis, or energy channels, considered similar to meridians of traditional Chinese medicine treated in several videos, Stretching of the meridians in the Yoga section. As mentioned, pranayama are different techniques, among all these exercises one of the best known and also most effective is the alternate nostril breathing, Nadi shodhana pranayama. This technique requires to close the nostrils alternately while breathing. Bend the index and middle fingers of the right hand on the palm, close then with the thumb the right nostril and inhale for 4 seconds, then open the right nostril and close with the ring finger the left nostril, proceed by exhaling for 8 seconds. Then, keep closed the left nostril and inhale with the right nostril for 4 seconds, close with the thumb the right nostril and open the left one, exhale for 8 seconds and so on. This breathing, besides being very useful to free the nasal cavities, has also an important effect on the nervous system. In particular, based on a scientific study, alternate nostril breathing promotes and strengthens the parasympathetic system that works by improving the health of the cardiovascular system, lowers heart rate and pressure, calms and counteracts stress (Sinha et al, J Clin Diagn Res, May 2013).
Pranayama are breathing techniques of yoga that have important benefits on the mind, by calming and removing the anxiety, and on the body, for example help to normalize the breath, are useful in case of asthma, lower blood pressure and counteract headaches and migraines.